Dr K.C. Chakravarthy, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India speaking at Kochi on 9th February 2013 he stated that if the people in this country are not able to get access to basic banking services even after the regulatory guidelines, we would have to think about enactment of legal provisions for making banking a fundamental right”. He also stated “..across the globe, the provision of a basic banking account for the consumer is considered a right. As I have already mentioned, RBI has issued guidelines advising banks to offer a ‘Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account’ without any minimum balance and provision of basic services without any charges (subject to limitations of operations), thus, conferring a right to every citizen to have a bank account. The mandate is already there and it is for the bank employees to ensure that they open the accounts of everyone who approaches them and not tell them to go to some other bank or branch.”
Unfortunately Dr Chakravarthy’s views donot seem to be part of the RBI policy at least as reflected in the discussion paper on “Disincentivisation of Cheques”.
This discussion paper contains several provisions which hurt the basic aspects of banking service as we know today and mainly affects Bank customers who operate in the physical world. The paper essentially wants to discourage use of physical banking instruments such as cheque or cash and move the customers to the E Banking environment.
The discussion paper is meant to be responded to by the public before February 28, 2013. But it is ironic that the publication that is meant for non Internet Bank users is available for perusal only on the Internet. How does RBI expect a non Internet user to find out the discussion paper and respond?
Even for a casual visitor of Internet, it is not possible to easily locate this discussion paper which is hidden in an URL http://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PublicationReport/Pdfs/DPDC300113_F.pdf
It is therefore necessary for RBI to first publish this discussion paper as a notice to public in the News papers and also put it up as a notice in all Bank branches and make copies available on demand at all Bank branches.
The current move of RBI to post the document on the website will only elicit attention and response from those persons who are internet savvy and therefore have no problems in using Internet Banking service. The message is not meant for them. It has to actually reach non Internet users and any decision taken on the basis of this internet notification will not be a due process of implementing the change.
I request the Supreme Court to take note of this attempt at clever manipulation of public opinion being indulged by some vested interests in RBI.