It is not uncommon to come across incidents of bank robberies committed in broad daylight. Reports of armed goons storming into banks to rob lakhs have triggered panic amid customers and forced loads of them to either shut their accounts or surrender their lockers. It is about time that you reconsidered bank locker as the safest place to hoard valuables and cash in India. To make matters worse, banks are not obligated to entertain claims if your valuables or cash is stolen or lost during such occasions.
Relationship between the locker holder and the bank
The locker holder is aware of the location, logistics and ambience of the locker and he/she acquires the locker in spite of any apparent deficiencies. Therefore, the bank does not take any responsibility for loss of valuables from the bank locker for whatever reason. Banks deem them not liable if any operation is not completed or for any malfunction on behalf of the bank if the action is hindered, delayed or prevented by means of a ‘Force Majeure’ incident. The ‘force majeure’ signifies incidents that occur due to any reason beyond rational control of the banks.
Considering this rule, banks have constantly warded off claims of locker theft on the basis that the relationship between the locker holder and the bank is similar to between that of a tenant and the landlord. As a result, banks cannot be held responsible for the contents in the locker. Oddly, the Reserve Bank of India does not make a definite recommendation on the issue implicating banks to be held liable to pay damages to customers in incidences of robbery of locker contents. However, following rising incidences of bank heists, the apex bank has informed all banks to implement appropriate care to safeguard lockers and suggested the banks to review the working system for manoeuvring safe locker operation at their branches on a regular basis and take required actions.
Other incidences where people report loss of valuables
Excluding bank robberies and natural calamities, there are several other incidences where locker theft has been reported. There may be chances when customers realize that some of the contents from their lockers are missing. In view of the prevailing norms, experts state that as the banks are oblivious to the contents of the locker and that the lockers can be operated only when the customer uses his/her key together with the master key held with the bank, thus, the bank cannot be held responsible in case of a suspected loss of valuables.
How to ensure safety of your bank locker in India?
It is recommended that customers must go through the documents cautiously while hiring a locker. Making a record of all valuables that you intend to store in the locker will help in computing the cost of the contents. Make sure you operate the locker once the bank worker, who escorts you to the locker, leaves the area. Always lock the vault properly before leaving the vault area. Check that the bank provides the CCTV camera facility so that accused can be traced in case of a theft.