Bank LockersBank lockers come in different shapes and sizes, which can be taken by customers depending on their requirement. The lockers are generally categorized as small, medium, large and extra large and their annual rent ranges approximately between Rs 1500 to Rs 15,000. For using the facility of lockers, a person has to pay an annual rent which will vary depending on the size of the locker, the city (metro, urban, or rural).
Banks provide safety of an excellent nature to the valuables by offering lockers to their constituent's n rental basis. The relationship between the Bank and the hirer is that of a licenser and licensee.
Procedure followed by banks
Nomination in Safe Deposit LockersNomination facilities are available only in the case of individual depositors and not in respect of persons jointly depositing articles for sage custody. Section 45ZE of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 does not preclude a minor from being a nominee for obtaining delivery of the contents of a locker. However, the responsibility of the banks in such cases is to ensure that when the content of a locker were sought to be removed on behalf of the minor nominee i.e; articles were handed over to a person who, in law, was competent to receive the articles on behalf of the minor.
Access to the safe deposit lockers to Survivor(s)/Nominee(s)/Legal heir(s)For dealing with the requests from the nominee(s) of the deceased locker-hirer/(where such a nomination had been made) or by the survivor(s) of the deceased(where the locker was accessible under the survivorship clause)), for access to the contents of the banks are advised to adopt generally the foregoing approach, mutatis mutandis, as indicated for the deposit accounts.
Detailed guidelines in this regard are as follows:-If the sole locker hirer nominates a person, banks should give to such nominee access of the locker and liberty to remove the contents of the locker in the event of the death of the sole locker hirer. In case the locker was hired jointly with the instructions to operate it under joint signatures, and the locker hirer(s) nominates person(s), in the event of death of any of the locker hirers, the bank should give access of the locker and the liberty to remove the contents jointly to the survivor(s) and the nominee(s). In case the locker was hired jointly with survivorship clause and the hirers instructed that the access of the locker should be given over to "either or survivor", "anyone or survivor" or "former or survivor" or according to any other survivorship clause, banks should follow the mandate in the event of the death of one ot more of the locker-hirers.
Precautions taken by banks before handing over the contents
Banks should make it clear to the survivor(s)/ nominee(s) that access to locker/ safe custody articles is given to them only as a trustee of the legal heirs of the deceased locker hirer i.e., such access given to him shall not affect the right or claim which any person may have against the survivor(s)/ nominee(s) to whom the access is given. Banks should note that since the access given to the survivor(s)/ nominee(s), subject to the foregoing conditions, would constitute a full discharge of the banks' liability, insistence on production of legal representation is superfluous and unwarranted and only serves to cause entirely avoidable inconvenience to the survivor(s)/ nominee(s) and would, therefore, invite serious supervisory disapproval. In such case, therefore, while giving access to the survivor(s)/ nominee(s) of the deceased locker hirer/ depositor of the safe custody articles, the banks should desist from insisting on production of succession certificate, letter of administration or probate, etc., or obtain any bond of indemnity or surety from the survivor(s)/ nominee(s). Further, in case the nominee(s)/ survivor(s)/ legal heir(s) wishes to continue with the locker, banks may enter into a fresh contract with nominee(s)/ survivor(s)/ legal heir(s) and also adhere KYC norms in respect of the nominee(s)/ legal heir(s). Just like we have a saving bank account and fixed deposits to keep our money safely, we have "Safe Bank Lockers" to store our physical belongings like jewelry and various kind of important documents like Will, Property Papers and other valuable items which you feel should not be kept at home. There are always 2 keys for the locker; one key is with Bank and the other with the locker holder. The locker can only be opened when both the keys are used at the same time. Generally bank official applies the key and then leaves the locker room and only after he/she leaves, you should open the locker door and do what you wanted to do. The banks use very high quality, strong lockers (generally Godrej). So overall, this all makes sure that your locker is very safe. Lockers are to be allotted on first come , first serve basis (as per rules) and in-case the lockers are exhausted, the bank is supposed to keep a waiting list of customers who have applied for the lockers and have to inform them when the lockers are free in the same order of application. If bank says that they do not have any lockers left at the moment, you can ask them for the "Waiting Register".
Things you have to follow
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The author has written an exhaustive article on the subject matter which is very informative and likely to be useful to many readers. I would like to share few more facts/tips associated with the bank lockers -
1. Lockers can be leased out to blind persons also.
2. At the time of hiring a locker, the banks may ask for certain security deposit in the form of FDR from the lessee.
3. Lockers can be operated during specified timings only displayed in the branch.
4. Lessee(s) in drunken state are not allowed to operate lockers.
5. Hirers may consider in their own interest to insure any item of value deposited in the safe Deposit Locker with the bank. The bank has no responsibility or liability of any kind in respect of the contents of the lockers.
6. Smoking is not allowed in the ‘Vault’.
Soon the banks are introducing the maximum number of free visits to operate their lockers. The customers might have to bear the cost for permitting visits more than the prescribed free visits. Moreover RBI has also asked the banks to engrave Bank and Branch Code on the Locker Keys of the customers. During search operations by Police, CBI and/or Income Tax authorities the engraved codes on keys found during search operations will lead the raid teams to trace the bank and branch name of the person whose premises is raided for having accumulated wealth more than the known sources of income of the individual.
Bank lockers used to be a precious item till a couple of years ago. One should have the luck to get a locker to hire from a bank. Knowing the scarcity and demand bank managers used to tie up some compulsory business quantum when someone request for a locker. It used to be a certain amount of fixed deposit. Bank Managers used this as a cross-selling method and enhance business.
But that situation has changed much. I got a locker from a local bank in my place very easily on my first visit itself. (There was a guess that it is because of the raid fear people got after demonetization).
So those who do not have safe deposit lockers may now try to have one. Then it will be better to know the procedure beforehand.
This article gives a good idea of such formalities. However as banks are going more and more digital, the procedure also undergo some changes. Hence you may get an update from the concerned bank.
The relationship between a banker and a locker hirer is that of a lessor and lessee. That is bank leases out some space to you and you take the space on lease. The duties and liabilities are governed that way.
Terminating the locker is terminating the contracts and all the persons who signed the original documents have to sign the termination statement (pre-printed in the same document) also.