Unclaimed funds: SC notice to Centre on plea seeking creation of centralised online database
SC sought response from Centre and others on a plea seeking directions to create a centralised database providing information about bank accounts, insurance, etc. held by deceased account holders
The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre 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 S A Nazeer and J K Maheshwari issued notices to the Ministry of Finance, Reserve Bank of India, SEBI and others on a petition filed by journalist Sucheta Dalal.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared for Dalal in the apex court.
The plea has also sought a direction to establish a procedure for dealing with claims of legal heirs qua bank deposits, insurance, post office funds etc., that eliminates unnecessary litigation.
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 31 March, 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 said.
The petition stated 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.
Further, it should be mandatory for banks to inform RBI about the inoperative or dormant bank accounts. This exercise should be repeated after an interval of 9-12 months.
The need for a centralised database providing information of deceased account holders also becomes extremely essential when seen in the context of the already existing time consuming and cumbersome process that legal heirs have to go through while making claims after death of an individual, the plea said.
The plea has sought directions to ensure that unclaimed funds of the public that get transferred to government owned funds viz. the Depositor's Education and Awareness Fund etc on grounds that the same were not claimed by legal heirs/nominees, are made available to said legal heirs/nominees by providing information of holders of inoperative/dormant accounts on a centralised online database.