Post offices in the next few months may be expected to inform a large number of people, who have forgotten about their deposits, about the unclaimed money in around 2.49 crore accounts across the country. Many people like 62-year-old housewife Krishna, who had forgotten about Indira Vikas Patra deposit in a post office in Gurgaon will benefit by the move.
Information watchdog, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the postal department to take proactive steps to refund unclaimed money to legitimate claimants or their heirs. Public funds to the tune of Rs. 1,164 crore are lying unclaimed under the Indira Vikas Patra.
Another Rs. 752 crore is in the dormant saving post office accounts.
The CIC issued the order in an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal against the postal department for refusing information regarding dormant accounts.
He had sought details about 100 top unclaimed accounts in post offices but the department expressed its inability to provide information saying it was lying with individual post offices.
Agarwal, however, contended that the information was important as unclaimed balances were prone to fraud.
He cited the instance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issuing guidelines to banks to transfer dormant balances to the government of India account after a period of 10 years.
Such a mechanism is being done in the case of unpaid dividends which are required to be transferred to the government after 3 years.
Agarwal suggested that post offices adopt similar practice.
Agreeing with him, information commissioner Basant Seth said that the ministry of corporate affairs and the RBI have issued appropriate guidelines for monitoring and taking proactive steps to refund unclaimed balances.