State Bank of India (SBI) is yet to return Rs 164 crore of undue fee charged from the account holders of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) towards digital payments during April 2017 and December 2019, a report said.
"On directions from the government, SBI has returned just about Rs 90 crore, thereby withholding the bigger chunk of at least Rs 164 crore with itself," said the report prepared by IIT-Mumbai.
It said that from April 2017 to September 2020, SBI had collected over Rs 254 crore towards at least 14 crore UPI/ RuPay transactions by charging Rs 17.70 per transaction on BSBDA (Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account) customers under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).
Queries sent to the country's largest lender on return of charges levied on debit transactions done by such account holders during the said period of 33 months did not elicit any response.
Since June 1, 2017, unlike any other bank in India, the report said, SBI charged Rs 17.70 for every debit transaction beyond four a month.
Debit transaction means any withdrawal transaction that includes cash withdrawal, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), Real-time Gross Settlement (RTGS) pre-authorised standing instruction, cheque, etc.
This has adversely impacted the BSBDA customers of SBI who, on the call of the government and RBI, embraced digital means of financial transactions.
"Due to this attitude of SBI and subsequent to RBI remaining noncommittal, in mid-August 2020, the Finance Ministry was approached for addressing the concern.
"The Ministry was prompt in their actions and the CBDT by end-August 2020, advised SBI to refund the charges collected since January 1, 2020, on transactions carried out using the prescribed digital payment modes," it said.
On August 30, 2020, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) advised banks to refund the charges collected since January 1, 2020, on transactions carried out using the prescribed digital payment modes that include the UPI and the RuPay debit card, and not to impose charges on future transactions carried out through such modes.
In adherence to the CBDT directive, as late as February 17, 2021, SBI initiated a refund of Rs 17.70 for the UPI and RuPay debit card digital transactions to the BSBDA customers, the report prepared by Ashish Das, Professor of Statistics said.
Levying of charges on BSBDA is guided by September 2013 RBI guidelines. As per the direction, these account holders are 'allowed more than four withdrawals' in a month, at the bank's discretion provided the bank does not charge for the same.
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