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Mousumi Sen (Owner)     04 November 2015

Bank wants to break sub-judiced locker

My mother's bank locker in a government Bank is being contested in a partition suit amongst the heirs as one of the movable properties slated for division in an appropriate manner.

This Bank however has recently sent a letter addressed to my deceased parents which was accepted by me that they would break this locker unless their locker rental dues are cleared. Now I do not want to pay all dues by myself as there is today no communication between the heirs. Further the Bank has already been advised that all dues will be cleared in a fit manner by the court itself when it issues its directions to open the locker.

Unfortunately the courts are presently closed until Nov 15th in my state and then also the next date is some time later. Further presently there is no judge and we have to wait until a new judge is appointed.

My questions are:

1. Can the Bank break this sub-judiced locker even after being notified?

2. What are the guarantees that bank employees will not usurp some of the jewellery inside the locker when it is brokeni.e. what is the procedure for breaking a locker?

3. What can I do now to stop the Bank from breaking open the locker besides paying all rental dues by myself at this stage?



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 16 Replies

siddhartha sinha   04 November 2015

Yes bank can break open the locker. This is a contract. Did you inform of your mothers unfortunate death to the bank or is it after your reply thaf they are getting to know? Do not worry no one will take away any belingings as locker break open is under strict guidelines. Either the hirer/his representative/police/a locally reputed person is present with two officers while opening. Further a detailed inventory list is to be made of the contents found after break open. These contents are to be given to nominee or in absence of nominee the legal heirs.
1 Like

siddhartha sinha   04 November 2015

If bank trusted you with a locker expecting that you would not keep dangerous and prohibited items, you must also trust bank officials that they wont take your belongings.

SIVARAMAPRASAD KAPPAGANTU (Retired Manager)     04 November 2015

1. Can the Bank break this sub-judiced locker even after being notified?

REPLY: Yes. From your query, it is evident that you have not even informed the Bank about the demise of your Parents in whose name the locker is held in the bank. Apparently, I think you have not made arrangement for payment Locker rent.  So when the dues mount bank sends notice for break open. Thats exactly what has happened.  Please go to bank and discuss with the Officials and provide them all the required papers and pay the rent arrears. The locker shall not be broke open. Bank shall give claim forms and you may submit the same.

2. What are the guarantees that bank employees will not usurp some of the jewellery inside the locker when it is brokeni.e. what is the procedure for breaking a locker?

REPLY: This is too much of an allegation against Bank Officials. How you can simply presume that a Bank shall break open the locker and take away the contents! Its surprising. Banks have enough strict guidelines according to which, break open of a locker does not happen without outside Witnesses.

 

3. What can I do now to stop the Bank from breaking open the locker besides paying all rental dues by myself at this stage?

REPLY: If you post questions in a forum without going to the Bank concerned and informing about the facts, you are only wasting your time.  Bank shall not break open the locker if they know the facts about the decease of the locker holder and legal heirs keep paying the rent and there are no arrears. My sincere advice to you is to go and meet the Bank Officials and resolve the issue by cooperating with them.

G.L.N. Prasad (Retired employee.)     04 November 2015

Just enclose copies of all Death certificate, partition suit documents (Plaint) wherein the locker was specifically stated and ask them not to break the locker till court deides.  This is just a formality. If there is a nomination, that nominee may be present and he is also responsible for payment of rent.

The payment of lease rent is not heavy.  I suggest you to pay the amount with a letter asking them to keep in a deposit and collect arrears depending on the court order.  Who ever gets the locker rights may pay the arrears of rent, and then they will refund your amount.

It is not fair to penalize a Bank and another needy customer who is awaiting for a locker, for your family disputes.

 

siddhartha sinha   04 November 2015

With utmost regards to expers mr prasad and mr shivramprasad i believe it will be unfair for bank to accept rent after it has been informed that lessee is dead. The contract should legally now be ended due to death of party.

Mousumi Sen (Owner)     04 November 2015

This Bank was submitted all documents in 2010 when I personally visited their premises. However the Branch Manager was totally uncoopertive and did not give me even a signed/stamped receipt of the documents received. He said that he will do nothing until all dues are cleared. I could not fulfill his wishes on my own and the Bank also did not come to court. The rents that have accumulated over the years are now quite a sizable bit and will keep on accruing until the court issues its directions.

 

So, this time time around I am no more visiting their premises but I am sending all documents once again through registered post. I will also send these documents to other people connected with the Bank besides the Branch Manager.

 

I also advised the Bank then that if there is a problem then they should approach the court where this locker is subjudiced and request it to offload all contents to the court itself and clear their dues by order from the court. This is because in court all lawyers of the heirs are present and they can all pay their share of the rent there. It is totally unfair to put all burden of rent on me as I only have a partial interest in the locker. Alternatively if the Bank can contact all heirs by themselves and ask them to pay the proportionate rent directly to Bank then I have no problem.

 

So, my main question was that what are the legal implications if the Bank inspite of everything breaks this subjudiced locker?

 

The reason for my fear/distrust of losing items is that everyday we hear about things going on which theoritically should not have occured. There is one other area of concern and that is one of the heirs is forcibly holding the keys to this locker and he is famous for getting his way by whatever means he deems necessary.

 

Thanks for all of your replies.

SIVARAMAPRASAD KAPPAGANTU (Retired Manager)     04 November 2015

OK your question is whether the Bank shall break open a locker which is under litigation in a court and so Sub-Judice.

 

However, the fact is whether the Bank knows that the matter is Sub-Judice. It appears from the details, bank is not officially aware although you have called on the Branch and tried to give the papers earlier.  You may personally go to the Bank and insist on talking only to the Branch in Charge and no less. Explain to him all the events and give the documents and insist for an acknowledgement.

 

If still you face hostility or uncooperative attitude, you can escalate the matter to their immediate next authority, which may be Zonal or Regional Office which will surely bring in results.

 

To answer your question briefly, when the matter related to Locker is Sub-Judice, Bank cannot breat it open.  However, rent is continued to be paid uptodate.

1 Like

Kumar Doab (FIN)     04 November 2015

Narrate all repreesntations to current BM,Circle Manager, Zonal Manager,MD,Chairman...........

The RBI has issued Master Circular on Customer Services and you may pursue it.

Is the bank made a party in court and has the court issued summons to bank and granted Injunction?

 

 

1 Like

G.L.N. Prasad (Retired employee.)     04 November 2015

Appraise the matter to court through your advocate through a petition and obtain stay order from Court to Bank against breaking open the locker.

1 Like

siddhartha sinha   04 November 2015

The bank will not in the first place allot the locker to any of the heirs/heiressess if it waits till the end of this litigation.. It will only hand over the contents.Unless specifically ordered by the competent court , bank has full right to break open the locker due to non payment of rent. But however, it is wrong for the manager to ask for dues knowing that the lessee has expired.

Mousumi Sen (Owner)     04 November 2015

Replying to Kumar Doab's query, the Bank has not directly been made a party to the partition suit. Only the contents of this Locker are listed in the list of movable items for partition by court. The movable item list has not upto now come up for hearing in the court. So in that sense there is no direct injunction from court. Only locker contents are subjudiced. There are no nominees to this Locker.

However it has been also submitted in the plaint that one of the heirs is in forcible possession of the keys to this Locker from our side and so when the matter come up we will request the court to make relevant enquiries that the sanctity of the Locker has been preserved. However if the Bank breaks the Locker now then the usefulness of that measure might be under question.

 

Replying to G.L.N. Prasad's suggestion, I wish I could do that but as stated earlier right now the court is in vacation and secondly we are waiting for a new judge to take his post.

 

In my reply to the Bank I am including my estimated value of the contents and if the Bank breaks the locker in my absence then I am writing that the Bank is accepting my estimates.

SIVARAMAPRASAD KAPPAGANTU (Retired Manager)     04 November 2015

"...one of the heirs is in forcible possession of the keys to this Locker..."

This is dangerous, as one of the claimants is already in posession of the Locker Keys, may be I am reaping may be (only apprehension) immediately after your parents demise, the locker was operated and locker is emptied.  Whether this fact was verified. How the contents of the locker are known and became a part of the suit when nobody could open the locker.

 

Better implead the Bank also as party.

1 Like

Mousumi Sen (Owner)     04 November 2015

Mr. S Kappagantu I fear that too. I also fear if there is any collusion between any Bank employee and this heir resulting in compromising the Locker. Theoritically this heir should not be given access by Bank. But who knows?

 

In the past I have information that this heir also went to the Bank and paid some of its fees. Has the Bank allowed any special privileges to this heir for paying the fees specially when he also has the key to locker? What is the correct way to find these out? What are the measures that can be brought against this heir and this Bank if irreglarity is discovered later? Because it is impossible to prove the contents but I have my estimates.

 

Also in a partition suit between heirs can you implead the Bank as a party without any proof of misconduct? I proceeded as per the advice of my advocate. He did not suggest any such measure.

Kumar Doab (FIN)     04 November 2015

Since there is no  nomination bank may not concur to handover the articles in locker to one claimant only until or unless each one agrees to the level of satisfaction of Bank.

 

No one is aloowed to operate the locker of the deceased locker holder until or unless various formalities are completed.

 

You may go thru:

 

RBI Master Circular on Customer Services; Clause 19,20 and onwards................and also the  Bank's internal policies drafted in line with RBI guidelines that should be provided witout any cost to claimants and are available in branch and on website.

 

Right now Bank is only concerned with rent and you need to escalate the matter to top brass.

 

Consult our counsels (Since the demand is made from you by BM) if Ad-Interim relief amounting to injunction (with immediate effect) can be obtained from local DCDRF.....................or civil court....................or say RBI -Customer Support Cell.........................or even thru intervention of say police..............or bank can be deterred thru say press conference........etc

 

Explore the possibilities.

 

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