The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and others on a plea seeking directions to create a centralised database providing information about bank accounts, insurance, post office funds etc. held by deceased account holders.
A bench of Justices SA Nazeer and JK Maheshwari sought responses from the Ministry of Finance, Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and others on a petition.
The plea filed by journalist Sucheta Dalal asked the court to pass a direction for the establishment of a procedure for dealing with claims of legal heirs qua bank deposits, insurance, post office funds etc. that eliminates unnecessary litigation. The plea stated that unclaimed funds of the public that get transferred to government-owned funds like the Depositor’s Education and Awareness Fund (DEAF), Investor’s Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) and Senior Citizen’s Welfare Fund (SCWF) on the ground that the legal heirs or nominees did not claim the same, should be made available to the legal heirs or nominees by providing information of holders of inoperative or dormant accounts on a centralised online database.
There is an urgent need to develop a centralised online database under the control of RBI that will provide information about the deceased account holder including such details as the name, address and last date of transaction by the deceased account holder, stated the plea. “It is submitted that the Depositors’ Education and Awareness Fund (DEAF) had Rs. 39,264.25 crore at the end of March 2021, up from Rs 33,114 crore on March 31, 2020 and a sharp rise from Rs. 18,381 crore at the end of March 2019. Further, the amount lying with the Investor Education Protection Fund started at Rs. 400 crore in 1999, was 10 times higher at Rs 4,100 crore at the end of March 2020,” the plea submitted.
The plea stated that it should be mandatory for banks to inform RBI about the inoperative or dormant bank accounts and this exercise should be repeated after an interval of 9-12 months.