Context: Development of a Centralised Web portal for the Public to Search Unclaimed Deposits
Need of DEA
- The deposits remaining unclaimed for 10 years in a bank are transferred to the “Depositor Education and Awareness” (DEA) Fund maintained by the Reserve Bank of India.
- Depositors’ protection being an overarching objective, RBI has been taking various measures to ensure that newer deposits do not turn unclaimed and existing unclaimed deposits are returned to the rightful owners or beneficiaries after following due procedure. On the second aspect, banks display the list of unclaimed deposits on their website.
- In order to improve and widen the access of depositors / beneficiaries to such data, RBI has decided to develop a web portal to enable search across multiple banks for possible unclaimed deposits based on user inputs. The search results will be enhanced by use of certain AI tools.
The Depositor Education and Awareness Fund Scheme
- The fund was created by RBI as per Section 26A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
- The amounts to be credited to the Fund by banks shall be deposited in the specified account maintained with the RBI.
- The amounts to be credited to the Fund shall be the credit balance in any deposit account maintained with banks which have not been operated upon for ten years or more, or any amount remaining unclaimed for ten years or more, which include:-
- Savings bank deposit accounts
- Fixed or term deposit accounts
- Cumulative/recurring deposit accounts
- Current deposit accounts
- Other deposit accounts in any form or with any name
- Cash credit accounts
- Loan accounts after due appropriation by the banks
- Margin money against issue of Letter of Credit/Guarantee etc., or any security deposit
- Outstanding telegraphic transfers, mail transfers, demand drafts, pay orders, bankers cheques, sundry deposit accounts, vostro accounts, inter-bank clearing adjustments, unadjusted National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) credit balances and other such transitory accounts, unreconciled credit balances on account of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transactions, etc.
- Undrawn balance amounts remaining in any prepaid card issued by banks but not amounts outstanding against travellers cheques or other similar instruments, which have no maturity period
- Rupee proceeds of foreign currency deposits held by banks after conversion of foreign currency to rupees in accordance with extant foreign exchange regulations and
- Such other amounts as may be specified by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
- Any amount payable in foreign currency under an instrument or a transaction, that has remained unclaimed for ten years or more, shall at the time of transfer to the Fund be converted into Indian Rupees at the exchange rate prevailing on that date and in the event of a claim, the Fund shall be liable to refund only the Indian Rupees received by the Fund with respect to such instrument or transaction.
- The Fund shall be utilised for promotion of depositors’ interests and for such other purposes which may be necessary for promotion of depositors’ interest as may be specified by the RBI. All expenditure incurred for the promotion of depositors’ education, awareness, interests and other purposes that may be specified by the RBI under Section 26A (4) of the Act, shall be charged to the Fund.
Committee to Administer the Fund
- There shall be a Committee to administer and manage the Fund in accordance with the Scheme which shall consist of an ex-officio Chairperson (a Deputy Governor of RBI, nominated by Governor) and not more than six members as decided by the RBI.
- The Committee may from time to time lay down a list of activities, the criteria and procedure, etc. for incurring expenditure and achieving the objectives of the Fund.
- The Committee shall administer the Fund and shall exercise all powers on behalf of the Fund, including incurring of all expenditure that may be charged to the Fund, and keeping the corpus of the Fund invested.
- The expenses of the Committee and other expenses for administration of the Fund shall be charged to the Fund as decided by the Committee.
- For facilitating the RBI for determination of the rate of interest payable by the Fund to the depositors, the Committee shall provide to the Reserve Bank such information on the income and expenditure of the Fund as may be required.
- For the promotion of depositors’ interests, the Committee may register/recognise from time to time various institutions, organisations or associations, engaged in activities relating to depositor awareness and education, including those proposing to conduct programmes for depositors of banks, organising seminars and symposia for depositors and undertaking projects and research activities relating to these areas.
- Institutions, organisations or associations registered/recognized by the Committee may be considered for grant of funds as a grant-in-aid either as one time measure or in stages or by way of reimbursement, depending upon the nature of the activity proposed.
Refunds and Interest
- In case of demand from a customer/ depositor whose unclaimed amount/deposit had been transferred to the Fund, banks shall repay the customer/depositor, along with interest if applicable, and lodge a claim for refund from the Fund for an equivalent amount paid to the customer/depositor.
- The interest payable, if any, from the Fund on a claim shall accrue only from the date on which the balance in an account was transferred to the Fund to the date of payment to the customer/depositor. No interest shall be payable in respect of amounts refunded from the Fund, in respect of which no interest was payable by the bank to its customer/depositor.
- Rate of interest, if any, payable on the principal amount transferred to the Fund shall be specified by the RBI from time to time.