The RBI on August 18, 2021, issued revised instructions on safe deposit locker / safe custody article facilities provided by banks (‘Revised Instructions’), after considering amongst other things the judgment of the Supreme Court in Amitabha Dasgupta v. United Bank of India. The Revised Instructions are effective from January 1, 2022 (except otherwise specified) and are applicable to both new and existing safe deposit lockers and the safe custody of articles facility with banks. Banks have been instructed to put into place a comprehensive revised board approved policy and standard operating procedures on safe deposit lockers / safe custody of articles basis the Revised Instructions.
Some of the salient features of the Revised Instructions are:
i. If the locker-hirer neither operates the locker nor pays the rent, banks can obtain a term deposit from the locker-hirer on certain terms. If the rent has not been paid by customers for three years in a row, banks can also break open any locker after following the procedure prescribed in the Revised Instructions. If a locker remains inoperative for a period of seven years and the locker-hirer cannot be located, even if rent is being paid regularly, banks can transfer the contents of the locker to the hirer’s nominees or legal heirs or dispose of the articles in a transparent manner; and
ii. The Revised Instructions outline the liability of banks in case of natural calamities, fire, theft, burglary, dacoity, robbery, building collapse or in case of fraud committed by employees of the bank etc., and require banks to put into place a detailed board approved policy outlining their responsibility for any loss or damage to the contents of the lockers due to their negligence.
 2021 SCC OnLine SC 124.