V.S. Palaniappan

Coimbatore: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a recent circular has directed all commercial banks to accept cheques across the counter and issue acknowledgements on the pay-in-slip in addition to the cheque drop box facility.

In as early as 2004 the RBI had issued a circular directing the banks not to dispense with the practice of accepting cheques across the counter and issuing acknowledgements. The banks were told that cheque drop-box facilities could be there in addition to acceptance of cheques across the counter in lieu of acknowledgements on pay-in-slips. RBI made it clear that no bank should refuse to accept a cheque at the counter or to issue an acknowledgement.

The circular came in the wake of complaints from customers who were in need of a pay-in-slip with an acknowledgement to vouch to the remittance. The banks insisted on dropping the cheques into the box. There were cases of customers landing into disputes and litigations in the absence of counterfoils of pay-in-slips. Even the banks that insisted on dropping the instruments into the drop-box were asking for acknowledgements for the remittance whenever an instrument got misplaced resulting in the transaction not reflecting in the accounts of either parties.

RBI in its earlier circular also said the drop boxes could exist for the convenience of those visiting the branches after business hours or at the ATM kiosks for those not being able to visit the branch. But when a customer could reach out to the counter, the banks should not refuse to accept the cheques and deny acknowledgements. In its latest circular, RBI Chief General Manager (in-charge) Prashant Saran pointed out the banking ombudsmen had received complaints that many bank branches were not accepting cheques across the counters and were compelling customers to drop the cheques in the drop box. Banks were therefore advised to strictly adhere to the instructions and ensure that customers were not compelled to drop cheques into the drop-box. RBI has also instructed the banks to make the customer aware of both the options i.e., remittance across the counter with an acknowledgement as well as the cheque drop box facility.

Hence, RBI had told the banks to display boards on the drop box indicating the availability of both the facility to tender the instruments across the counter in lieu of an acknowledgement and the drop box. The board at the drop box should state that "Customers could also give the cheques at the counter and obtain acknowledgment on the pay-in-slip". The above message should be displayed in English, Hindi and the regional language of the respective State.