The Reserve Bank of India had, in May 2015, advised all public-sector and selected private and foreign banks to appoint Internal Ombudsman (IO) as an independent authority to review complaints that were partially or wholly rejected by the respective banks. The IO mechanism was set up with a view to strengthen the internal grievance redressal system of banks and to ensure that the complaints of the customers are redressed at the level of the bank itself by an authority placed at the highest level of bank’s grievance redressal mechanism so as to minimize the need for the customers to approach other fora for redressal.
As a part of this customer-centric approach, to enhance the independence of the IO while simultaneously strengthening the monitoring system over the functioning of the IO mechanism, RBI has reviewed the arrangement and issued revised directions under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in the form of ‘Internal Ombudsman Scheme, 2018’. The Scheme covers, inter-alia, appointment/tenure, roles and responsibilities, procedural guidelines and oversight mechanism for the IO.
All Scheduled Commercial Banks in India having more than ten banking outlets (excluding Regional Rural Banks), are required to appoint IO in their banks. The IO shall, inter alia, examine customer complaints which are in the nature of deficiency in service on the part of the bank, (including those on the grounds of complaints listed in Clause 8 of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006) that are partly or wholly rejected by the bank. The implementation of IO Scheme, 2018 will be monitored by the bank’s internal audit mechanism apart from regulatory oversight by RBI.
What is the Banking Ombudsman Scheme?
The Banking Ombudsman Scheme is an expeditious and inexpensive forum for bank customers for resolution of complaints relating to certain services rendered by banks. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme is introduced under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 by RBI with effect from 1995. Presently the Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2006 (As amended upto July 1, 2017) is in operation.
Which are the banks covered under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006?
All Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Scheduled Primary Co-operative Banks are covered under the Scheme.
21 Banking Ombudsman centres:
Currently, there are 21 Banking Ombudsman centres operating in the country. The 21 centres are located in different cities viz. Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Mumbai (I), Mumbai (II), New Delhi (I), New Delhi (II), Patna, Thiruvananthapuram, Dehradun, Ranchi, Raipur, and Jammu.