Several banks are yet to comply with the Reserve Bank of India norm to furnish details of accounts which have been remaining inoperative for a decade. The RBI had asked all public sector and scheduled commercial banks to provide the details of dormant accounts online by June 30 last year.
As on December 31, 2011, a total amount exceeding Rs.2, 481 crore was lying as unclaimed deposits in 1.1 million accounts of various banks in the country, according to the RBI. On a modest estimate, at least Rs.100 crore could be remaining idle in banks operating in Kerala.
RBI officials said the apex bank had not extended the deadline, but a circular was issued as a follow-up to all banks to review the position by September 30, 2012. Most banks have complied with the norms, an official said.
State Bank of Travancore, one of the major public sector banks operating in Kerala, maintained that the process of furnishing the account details was underway. The delay was on account of the large number of inoperative accounts, a senior official of the bank said. The bank has initiated steps to trace accounts holding low balance and follow-up measures have been initiated.
“The RBI directive has prompted Union Bank of India to contact many dormant account holders and about 40-50 per cent of them have been reactivated,” a top official of the bank said. Some of the accounts are operated by government departments and involve litigations. The total amount of unclaimed deposits is being mentioned in the balance sheets regularly, he said.
Federal Bank and South Indian Bank, scheduled commercial banks based in Kerala, are among banks which have already published the details of the dead accounts in their websites. Federal Bank had over 82,000 inoperative accounts holding Rs.13.9 crore as deposits, as on December 31, 2010. South Indian Bank has over 1,4600 dormant accounts with Rs. 84 lakh; Dhanlaxmi Bank had 54,247 inoperative accounts with Rs.1.19 crore; Catholic Syrian Bank had over 1.79 lakh dormant accounts with Rs.4.15 crore. State Bank of Travancore had over 63,900 inoperative accounts with Rs.8.16 crore in them, as on December 31, 2010, according to information available from RBI.
Carelessness, migration, death of the account holder and failure of the legal successors to submit evidence are among reasons behind the existence of inoperative accounts. The RBI wanted the banks to adopt a customer-friendly policy with a view to helping the account holders or their successors to revive the accounts.