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Explained: The integrated ombudsman scheme launched by RBI –

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 12 launched the integrated ombudsman scheme. The integrated ombudsman scheme strengthens the grievance redress mechanism for consumers of different regulated entities like Banks, NBFCs and payments system operators.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said, “The existing ombudsman schemes are being integrated into a single scheme which will offer the benefit of a single platform to customers for getting speedy resolution of their grievances.”

This integrated scheme will reinforce confidence and trust in the financial system, Das added.

Here’s all you need to know about the scheme:

Q. What is the integrated ombudsman scheme?

The integrated ombudsman scheme amalgamates three ombudsman scheme of RBI  – banking ombudsman scheme of 2006, ombudsman scheme for NBFCs of 2018 and ombudsman scheme of digital transactions of 2019.

The unified ombudsman scheme will provide redress of customer complaints involving deficiency in services rendered by RBI regulated entities viz. banks, NBFCs and pre-paid instrument players if the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the customers or not replied within a period of 30 days.

The new scheme also includes non-scheduled primary co-operative banks with a deposit size of Rs 50 crore and above. The integrated scheme makes it a “One Nation One Ombudsman’ approach and jurisdiction neutral.

Q. Why was this required?

The first ombudsman scheme was rolled out in the 1990s.

According to Anjana Potti, Partner, J Sagar Associates (JSA), the system was always viewed askance by consumers. One of the primary concerns was the lack of maintainable grounds on which the consumer could challenge the actions of a regulated entity at the ombudsman or a rejection of the complaint on technical grounds, resulting in a preference for the consumer court notwithstanding the extended timelines for redressal, she said.

The move to integrate the systems (banking, NBFC, and digital payments) and expand the grounds for complaints may see a positive response from consumers, Anjana said.

Q. What are some of the features of the scheme?

According to RBI, it will no longer be necessary for the complainant to identify under which scheme he/she file complaint with the ombudsman. The scheme includes a wider definition of deficiency of services which ensures complaints will not go unaddressed or rejected simply on account of “not covered under the grounds listed in the scheme”.

The scheme is jurisdiction neutral and a centralised receipt and processing centre has been set-up in Chandigarh for initial handling of complaints in any language.

RBI says the regulated entity will not have any right to appeal in cases where an award is issued by the ombudsman against it for not furnishing satisfactory and timely information.

Q. Who would be the final appellate authority?

RBI’s Executive Director-in charge of Consumer Education and Protection Department would be the Appellate Authority under the integrated scheme.

Q. How to file a complaint against any RBI regulated entity under the new scheme?

Customer can file their complaints/grievance on the complaint management system - Further, complaints can also be filed through e-mail or physical letter sent to the ‘centralised receipt and processing centre’ set-up in Chandigarh.

Additionally, a call centre with a toll-free number – 14448 can be used to file a complaint and is being operationalised in Hindi, English and eight regional languages.

RBI says the scope to cover other Indian languages will be done in due course.​