The Reserve Bank of India introduced Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021 on 12th November, 2021. This scheme amalgamates the existing three Ombudsman schemes of RBI namely, (i) the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006; (ii) the Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018; and (iii) the Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions, 2019. The Scheme, framed by the Reserve Bank in exercise of the powers conferred on it under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (10 of 1949), Section 45L of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (2 of 1934), and Section 18 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (51 of 2007), will provide cost-free redress of customer complaints involving deficiency in services rendered by a “Regulated Entity” such as a bank or a Non-Banking Financial Company or a System Participant as defined in the Scheme.

Notable features of the RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021: 

1. It will no longer be necessary for a complainant to identify under which scheme he or she should file a complaint with the Ombudsman.

2. The Scheme defines ‘deficiency in service’ as the ground for filing a complaint, with a specified list of exclusions. Therefore, the complaints would no longer be rejected merely on grounds of “not covered under the grounds listed in the scheme”.

3. The Scheme has done away with the jurisdiction of each ombudsman office making it a “One Nation One Ombudsman’ approach.

4. A Centralised Receipt and Processing Centre has been set up at RBI, Chandigarh for receipt and initial processing of physical and email complaints.

5. The responsibility of representing the Regulated Entity and furnishing information in respect of complaints filed by customers against the Regulated Entity would be that of the Principal Nodal Officer in the rank of a General Manager in a Public Sector Bank or equivalent.

6. The Regulated Entity will not have the right to appeal in cases where an Award is issued by the ombudsman against it for not furnishing satisfactory and timely information/documents.

7. The new scheme also includes non-scheduled primary co-operative banks with a deposit size of Rs 50 crore and above.

8. The Executive Director-in charge of Consumer Education and Protection Department of RBI would be the Appellate Authority under the Scheme.

One Nation One Ombudsman RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021

Coverage of RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021: 

The RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021 covers the customers of –

  • all Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks, Scheduled Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks and Non-Scheduled Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks with deposits size of Rupees 50 crore and above as on the date of the audited balance sheet of the previous financial year;
  • all Non-Banking Financial Companies (excluding Housing Finance Companies) which (a) are authorised to accept deposits; or (b) have customer interface, with an assets size of Rupees 100 crore and above as on the date of the audited balance sheet of the previous financial year;
  • all System Participants as defined under the Scheme.

Grounds of Complaint under RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021 

Clause 9 of the Scheme provides that any customer aggrieved by an act or omission of a Regulated Entity resulting in deficiency in service may file a complaint under the Scheme personally or through an authorised representative.

Grounds for non-maintainability of a Complaint under RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021

According to clause 10 of the scheme, there are following grounds for non maintainability of a complaint –

♦ No Complaint for deficiency in service shall lie against the Entity in matters involving:

(a) commercial judgment/commercial decision of a Regulated Entity;

(b) a dispute between a vendor and a Regulated Entity relating to an outsourcing contract;

(c) a grievance not addressed to the Ombudsman directly;

(d) general grievances against Management or Executives of a Regulated Entity;

(e) a dispute in which action is initiated by a Regulated Entity in compliance with the orders of a statutory or law enforcing authority;

(f) a service not within the regulatory purview of the Reserve Bank;

(g) a dispute between Regulated Entities; and

(h) a dispute involving the employee-employer relationship of a Regulated Entity.

♦ A complaint under the Scheme shall not lie unless:

(a) the complainant had, before making a complaint under the Scheme, made a written complaint to the Regulated Entity concerned and –

(i) the complaint was rejected wholly or partly by the Regulated Entity, and the complainant is not satisfied with the reply; or the complainant had not received any reply within 30 days after the Regulated Entity received the complaint; and

(ii) the complaint is made to the Ombudsman within one year after the complainant has received the reply from the Regulated Entity to the complaint or, where no reply is received, within one year and 30 days from the date of the complaint.

(b) the complaint is not in respect of the same cause of action which is already-

(i) pending before an Ombudsman or settled or dealt with on merits, by an Ombudsman, whether or not received from the same complainant or along with one or more complainants, or one or more of the parties concerned;

(ii) pending before any Court, Tribunal or Arbitrator or any other Forum or Authority; or, settled or dealt with on merits, by any Court, Tribunal or Arbitrator or any other Forum or Authority, whether or not received from the same complainant or along with one or more of the complainants/parties concerned;

(c) the complaint is not abusive or frivolous or vexatious in nature;

(d) the complaint to the Regulated Entity was made before the expiry of the period of limitation prescribed under the Limitation Act, 1963, for such claims;

(e) the complainant provides complete information as specified in clause 11 of the Scheme;

(f) the complaint is lodged by the complainant personally or through an authorised representative other than an advocate unless the advocate is the aggrieved person.

Procedure for filing a Complaint under RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021

Customers can file their complaints/ grievances on the complaint management system https://cms.rbi.org.in. Further, complaints can also be filed through e-mail at [email protected] or in physical mode at the ‘Centralised Receipt and Processing Centre’ (CRPC) set up at RBI, 4th Floor, Sector 17, Chandigarh – 160017. Additionally, a call centre with a toll-free number – 14448 can be used to file a complaint and is being operationalised in Hindi, English and nine regional languages (Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Odia, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu).

Rejection of a Complaint under RBI Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021

Clause 16 of the scheme provides following grounds for rejection of complaint by ombudsman-

(1) The Deputy Ombudsman or the Ombudsman may reject a complaint at any stage if it appears that the complaint made:

(a) is non-maintainable under clause 10; or

(b) is in the nature of offering suggestions or seeking guidance or explanation.

(2) The Ombudsman may reject a complaint at any stage if:

(a) in his opinion there is no deficiency in service; or

(b) the compensation sought for the consequential loss is beyond the power of the Ombudsman to award the compensation as indicated in clause 8(2); or

(c) the complaint is not pursued by the complainant with reasonable diligence; or

(d) the complaint is without any sufficient cause; or

(e) the complaint requires consideration of elaborate documentary and oral evidence and the proceedings before the Ombudsman are not appropriate for adjudication of such complaint; or

(f) in the opinion of the Ombudsman there is no financial loss or damage, or inconvenience caused to the complainant.

Conclusion: 

There is no doubt that with greater coverage, consistency in resolution and faster redressal, Integrated Ombudsman Scheme will be proven as a game changer. In the launch ceremony of RBI Integrated Ombudsman and Retail Direct schemes, the RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, has rightly observed, “The integrated ombudsman scheme will reinforce trust and confidence in the financial system. The launching of these two citizen-centric initiatives today will provide further impetus to our journey towards a more inclusive and responsive financial system.”

Author Bio

Qualification: Student- Others
Company: Department of Law, University of Calcutta
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Member Since: 26 Jun 2022 | Total Posts: 1

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