The RBI has promised to present the Damodaran Committee report to the Karnataka High Court even as Mr Damodaran has failed to provide his “transmittal” as the chairman of the Committee
Under the threat of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) governor being summoned by the Karnataka High Court, the apex bank will release the report by the M Damodaran committee on customer service—without the transmittance of Mr Damodaran himself.
Moneylife has been repeatedly reporting on how the report (despite being ready) was not being released by the Committee head, Mr Damodaran (please scroll down for the previous articles) for reasons best known to him.
Some members have informally informed Moneylife that the report was not released as it did not have transmittance of Mr Damodaran. But even Committee members were unaware, as also RBI officials, were completely in the dark as to why the release of the report was not being green-signalled by Mr Damodaran.
However, the report will now see the light of day thanks to an accidental happening. Apparently, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the penalty levied on account holders by banks for not maintaining a minimum balance in their accounts, the Karnataka High Court was being repeatedly told that all the banking service related issues would soon to reviewed, after the Damodaran Committee submits its report. After a few such hearings, the Court impatiently wanted to know when would the committee report be released. A division bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice HG Ramesh came down heavily on the apex bank for not submitting the report, even after the Court had granted many adjournments for submitting the same. In fact, the High Court warned that it would not hesitate to summon the governor of the RBI, if the report was not placed before the next date of hearing.
According to a report dated 6th July in The Hindu, the RBI has informed the Karnataka High Court that the report of the Damodaran Committee has finally been submitted on 4th July—sans Mr Damodaran's "transmittal". The Court has granted four weeks to the RBI to submit its report before it.
Until recently, it was reliably learnt that the report was not released because it did not have transmittance of Mr Damodaran who has been mysteriously reluctant to write the letter (transmittal) which would have formally meant handing over the independent committee's report to the RBI.
Recently, while replying to a Right to Information (RTI) application which inquired about the status of the report, the RBI said that the report is "yet to be transmitted." (See: RBI flip-flops on customer service report ). The RTI Act was evoked by Mumbai-based activist Nagesh Kini, with the RBI, to find out the status of the report, as it was over a year now that several people have submitted their recommendations to the Committee—but there is no sign of the report being finalised.
In its reply to Mr Kini's RTI application, the central bank had said that a "timeframe of four months from the date of the first meeting of the committee was set for submission of the report." This was extended by three months. Considering this, the report should have been out in the public domain by now. It's been over 12 months since the first meeting was held on 15 June 2010, but the report has been released only on 4th July.
The Committee was constituted in June last year to review the system of customer service and grievance redressal by banks. It was expected to undertake a strict review of the existing system of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme and customer service in banks, including the approach, attitude and fair treatment to customers in the retail, small and pensioner segments.
Moneylife sent a message to Mr Damodaran, but no reply has been received till the time of writing this story.
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