DEALING WITH INCIDENTS OF FREQUENT DISHONOUR OF CHEQUES AND FAILED ECS (DEBIT)
STATE BANK OF INDIA
POLICY FOR DEALING WITH INCIDENTS OF FREQUENT DISHONOUR OF CHEQUES AND FAILED ECS (ELECTRONIC CLEARING SERVICE)
A. PROCEDURE FOR DEALING WITH INCIDENTS OF FREQUENT DISHONOUR OF CHEQUES OF VALUE LESS THAN RS.1 CRORE
(i) Returning time for dishonoured cheques
The dishounoured instruments are required to be returned / dispatched to the customer promptly without delay, in any case within 24 hours of dishonour.
(ii) Procedure for return/dispatch of dishonoured cheques
a) The payee branch should return dishonoured cheques presented through clearing houses strictly as per the return discipline prescribed for respective clearing house in terms of Uniform Regulations and Rules for Bankers' Clearing Houses. The collecting branch on receipt of such dishonoured cheques should dispatch it immediately to the payees / holders within 24 hours of receipt of the instruments.
b) In relation to cheques presented directly to the payee branch across the counter for settlement of transaction by way of transfer between two accounts of the same branch / inter branch, branch should return such dishonoured cheques to the payees/ holders same day/or next day, in case of dishonour due to insufficiency of fund .
c) Cheques dishonoured for want of funds in respect of all accounts should be returned along with a memo indicating therein the reason for dishonour as "insufficient funds".
(iii) Dealing with incidents of frequent dishonor
a) With a view to enforce financial discipline among the customers, branch should introduce a condition for operation of (SB/CA) account with cheque facility that in the event of dishonour of a cheque of value of less than rupees one crore drawn on a particular account of the drawer on 4 occasions during the financial year for want of sufficient funds in the account, no fresh cheque book would be issued and branch may close the account after issuing 30 days-notice to the customer on subsequent dishonour.
b) The branch may consider closing current account with the prior approval at its discretion, and proper notice to the customer recording the reason of closure of account. However, in respect of advances accounts such as cash credit account, overdraft account, the need for continuance or otherwise of these credit facilities and the cheque facility relating to these accounts should be reviewed by appropriate authority, i.e., the sanctioning authority.
c) For the purposes of introduction of the condition mentioned at (a) and (b) above in relation to operation of the existing accounts, branch may, at the time of issuing new cheque book, obtain a letter from the constituents regarding acceptance of the new condition for operation of account. The condition may also be incorporated in the Account Opening Forms as declaration from the constituent.
d) If a cheque is dishonoured for a 3rd time during a financial year in respect of cheques mentioned in para (a) above on a particular account of the drawer during the financial year, branch should issue a cautionary advice to the concerned constituent drawing his attention to aforesaid conditions and consequential stoppage of cheque facility in the event of cheque being dishonoured on next occasion on the same account during the financial year
e) If an account is having cheque book facility and ECS mandate is also registered, then the incidents of dishonour will be taken into account both for dishonour of cheque and failed ECS for computing the number of dishonour of cheques/failed ECSs.
f) Branch may consider for closing the account after serving 30 days-notice to the customer in the event of subsequent dishonour of cheque/ ECS mandate in the account.
B. DISHONOUNR OF ECS: SECTION 25 OF THE PAYMENT AND SETTLEMENT SYSTEM ACT:2007
i) ECS (Debit) is a scheme under which an account holder with a bank can authorize an ECS user to recover an amount at a prescribed frequency or otherwise by raising a debit in his account. The ECS user has to collect an authorization which is called ECS mandate for raising such debits. These mandates have to be endorsed by the bank branch maintaining the account.
ii) As per Section 25 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, where an electronic funds transfer initiated by a person from an account maintained by him cannot be executed on the ground that the amount of money standing to the credit of that account is insufficient to honour the transfer instruction or that it exceeds the amount arranged to be paid from that account by an agreement made with a bank, there is provision to prosecute such person as per above act.
iii) Procedure for handling failed ECS
a) If a Destination Branch (refer to the bank branches where the Destination Account holders maintain their bank account from which ECS utility payments are debited.) not in a position to debit a particular transaction for insufficiency of funds, it should report the same with a Return Memo to the Service Branch/Main Branch on the same day with the details of failed ECS, in any case not later than 24 hours of the returned /undebited ECS processed in the Clearing House.
b) On receipt of the undebited ECS from all concerned branches/ banks, the Service Branch of the Destination Bank would flag off or mark off the relevant debit items in the tape or floppy as unpaid.
c) It would be the responsibility of the Sponsor Bank (Branch) (refer to the bank/branch which had agreed to act as the agent of the User company (utility-companies, insurance/corporations/Collection Service Provider/ Govt. departments, or any institution receiving/collecting payments from a large number of branches/ credit banker etc.) to advise the User regarding failed ECS debit.
d) If a User makes use of ECS mechanism for receiving payment to the same set of beneficiaries every quarter/month or at more frequent intervals, and there is frequent return of debit ECS, thus in such case, after return of the ECS, the Sponsor Bank has the responsibility to intimate the User in addition to the Destination Account Holders regarding termination of ECS mandate.
e) In case of failed ECS due to insufficiency of funds, a communication from the Destination branch is to be sent to the customer (Destination Account Holder) intimating him that in case of failed ECS for 4 times in a financial year or otherwise, the branch at its sole discretion may advise the sponsor bank/branch for cancellation of all mandates given for the particular account in case of SB/CA, whereas for Cash Credit accounts, a review may be put to the sanctioning authority in the matter. The branch should also send the caution memo after 3rd ECS failure in a financial year to the concerned User of ECS for whom the ECS was registered
f) The above conditions are to be incorporated in the ECS mandate which will be signed by the Destination Account Holders.
g) If an account is having cheque book facility in addition to ECS mandate, then the incidents of dishonour will be taken into account for both dishonour of cheques and failed ECS for computing the number of dishonour of cheques/ECS mandate.
h) Branch may consider for closing of account after serving 30 days-notice to the customer after subsequent ECS failure, even though the account is not having any cheque book facility and only ECS has been registered.
i) The controller of the branch has to ensure compliance of above procedure so that no laxity is allowed in delayed reporting of such failed ECS and in case of any event of findings of such circumstances, the internal guidelines for dealing with staff accountability would apply.
j) Prior information / documentary proof of failed ECS should be provided, if requisitioned by any court/consumer forum
For the purpose of adducing evidence to prove the fact of dishonour of cheque on behalf of a complainant (i.e. payee / holder of a dishonoured cheque) in any proceeding relating to dishonoured cheque before a court, consumer forum or any other competent authority, branch should extend full co-operation, and should furnish him/her documentary proof of fact of dishonour of cheque(s).