The Reserve Bank of India has widened the scope of its Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2006, to include deficiencies arising out of internet banking. Under the amended Scheme, a customer would also be able to lodge a complaint against the bank for its non-adherence to the provisions of the fair practices code for lenders or the Code of Bank's Commitment to Customers issued by the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI). The BCSBI is an independent and autonomous watchdog set up by the Reserve Bank to monitor and ensure that the codes and standards adopted by the banks for rendering banking services are adhered to in true spirit.
As per the amended Scheme, the Banking Ombudsman can award compensation not exceeding Rupees one lakh to the complainant in the case of complaints arising out of credit card operations, taking into account the loss of the complainant's time, expenses incurred by him as also, harassment and mental anguish suffered. Further, non-observance of the Reserve Bank's guidelines on engagement of recovery agents by banks has also been brought specifically under the purview of the Scheme.
Any customer who has a grievance against a bank can complain to the Banking Ombudsman in whose jurisdiction the branch of the bank complained against is located. Some banks have centralised certain transactions, like housing loans, credit cards, etc. If there are complaints regarding such transactions, complaints would have to be made to the Banking Ombudsman in the State in which the bank customer receives the bill.
In addition, the Reserve Bank has simplified the format for lodging complaint to the Banking Ombudsman. Though the complainant need not lodge his complaint in a specific format, the Scheme now provides for an easy-to-fill format for lodging complaints, in case complainants prefer to use it. The jurisdictions of the Banking Ombudsman at Kanpur, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram have been rationalised to include/exclude certain areas taking into account the geographical proximity of those areas to the Office of the Banking Ombudsman.
The amended Scheme however, does not include certain banking transactions, such as, failure to honour bank guarantee or letter of credit, etc. Complaints on these areas of banking services are insignificant in number.
For wider dissemination, the Reserve Bank has asked all banks to place a copy of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme on their website. The amended Scheme is also available on the Reserve Bank's website at www.bankingombudsman.rbi.org.in