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Date Posted: 21:21:01 08/30/07 Thu
Author: Javed
Subject: BANK LOCKERS AND OTHER SECURITY DEPOSITS

BANK LOCKERS AND SECURITY DEPOSIT
By Javed - 15 September 2006

I have for long struggled on this subject with even not a single inch headway. Now I am old, a chronic diabetic having hardly 10% eye vision. Keep in view that the readership of accountancy.com.pk though is very limited but is a real serious one, I am putting the matter here hoping perhaps some one may now take up the ball from me.

For allotment of a bank locker a good amount of security deposit is taken. This amount remains with the Bank for decades spread over 30 to 60 years. During all this period the purchasing value of this amount keeps shrinking and in fact after 20 or 30 years when locker is surrendered it becomes a “laughable” amount as refunded. When I got locker in 1983 I deposited Rs. 500 as security. Though I do not see surrendering it in the near future but suppose if I surrender it today the Rs. 500 refund would hardly fetch me one and a half kilo mutton whereas in 1983 when I deposited this Rs. 500 it could had fetched 6 kgs mutton. In the meantime however banks keep enjoying interest on this deposit as well as keep increasing locker fees.

About 12 years back someone raised the issue of continued increase in locker rental with the then Federal Ombudsman. A very fine decision based on natural logics was made. The Federal Ombudsman observed that a bank locker was not any service rather it was just an additional incentive offered to only some of its account holders/clients. The Bank submitted a Revision Appeal on the ground that it had to incur expenses on lockers maintenance hence this periodical increase in rentals. This was not a sound argument. Against this argument I can submit a more strong and very convincing argument. However the Federal Ombudsman accepted this revision appeal and reverted his earlier decision. But this reversion was not as qualified as was the observation that the locker was not a service but an additional incentive. The revised decision did not, as far I know, mentioned if now the Ombudsman viewed the locker a service and not an incentive.

As the banking Mohtasib was established last year I raised this issue with a new hope. However nothing happened except, as far as my memories if are not misguiding me that I was asked to raise any specific issue against a bank if I had.

I had all these long years been struggling that the security deposits with Banks, electricity, phone and gas companies when refunded should be refunded with interest for the period the security deposit remained with the company as technically and legally the interest accrued on this amount belongs to the depositor. This is in consonance to the principles of natural justice that the interest or gains gained on whose amount should belong to whom who is owner of that amount.

The fact is the Bank has nothing to incur on maintenance of lockers. The locker cabinet which consists of 50 lockers is one off expense. Once it is purchased there is no recurring expense on it as no maintenance of locker cabinet is needed. Lockers remain locked, the bank cannot open hence there is no question of any maintenance except for normal usual dust removing by the cleaner of the bank as he daily does the cleaning of staff tables. No special locker dealing staff is recruited. One of the normal staff is assigned to deal with locker clients.

The PTCL had charged Rs. 450/- as security deposit from me. Recognising my civic right I struggled for many years that PTCL must return me my security deposit deposited in shape of Defence Saving Certificates as those were long expired and were in that shape no use both to me and to PTCL. My contention was the PTCL may take fresh Defence Certificates from me or take cash fresh security but it did not agree. I struggled hard and finally I succeeded. On my those Certificates of worth Rs. 450/-, I got Rs. 13,000 on encashment of those Certificates. Perhaps I am the only one in Pakistan who recognizing his this right struggled hard and got his right.

My contention, argument and proposal had been that these companies should refund the security deposit with full interest or alternatively give an option to the clients to deposit Defence Saving Certificates as Security Deposit pledged in the name of concerned bank, phone, electricity or gas company. The rules of Defence Savings Certificates as approved by the Government say these certificates can also be deposited as security.

Since I am old and now not able to follow the matter any more, I wonder if any serious conscientious citizen/reader would take the issue in his hand and start struggling.

Please note during all these years I addressed this issue to many so called NGOs or consumer concerned organization never ever to get any response. Now after posting this on this accountancy.com.pk I am simultaneously emailing this to the following:

Consumer protection commission of Pakistan,
Helpline Karachi.
Concerned Citizens Association Karachi.
Consumer Protection Association
The Reformers
The Lawyers for Human Rights.
The Network Islamabad

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