RBI’s cash rule for wedding: Engagement, marriages called off post de-monetisation

New Delhi: News of a wedding being called off here on account of the cash crunch following the recent demonetisation of high value currency notes starkly highlights some irrational conditions imposed by the RBI on withdrawal of Rs 2.5 lakh in cash permitted for marriage expenses.

An eight-month-long engagement was called off here on Wednesday, two days before the wedding.

“The groom’s family was demanding a high-end car, diamond jewellery and cash. We couldn’t raise enough cash to fulfill their demands owing to the notes-ban and they called-off the marriage,” Tilak Raj Singh, an uncle of the bride, told IANS.

The distressed woman’s father, a businessman in Delhi, could manage to raise only Rs 2.5 lakh due to the restraints following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday imposed stiff conditions for withdrawal of up to Rs 2.5 lakh in cash from bank accounts for weddings, saying the money can be withdrawn only from the credit balance as on the day demonetisation was announced on November 8.

“A maximum of Rs 2,50,000 is allowed to be withdrawn from bank deposit accounts till December 30, 2016, out of the balances at credit in the account as of close of business on November 8, 2016,” the RBI notification said.

“Withdrawals can be made by either of the parents or the person getting married (only one of them will be permitted to withdraw),” it said.

Moreover, there should be “a detailed list of persons to whom the cash withdrawn is proposed to be paid, together with a declaration from such persons that they do not have a bank account. The list should indicate the purpose for which the proposed payments are being made,” the notification added.

Families that have weddings planned during this period were reluctant to go on record with their problems post-demonetisation. The parents of a prospective groom spoke to IANS on the matter.

“We have been hearing scary stories related to marriages and such other occasions due to dearth of cash. The government should have implemented proper replenishment schemes keeping in mind that the Indian economy is largely cash-based… around 85 per cent of transactions are done in cash,” said the groom’s father Abhijit Sinha.

“Also, the local vendors carry out almost 90 per cent of their dealings in cash… how are they supposed to carry out their business,” he wondered.

“The bank people were very helpful, but the rules are pathetic. For instance, how do I give a ‘tentative expense detail’ of the wedding,” asked the groom’s mother Sharmila Sinha.

“Another thing that it asks for is to certify that no other person in the groom’s or bride’s family is withdrawing cash for the same wedding from your bank or any other bank… Isn’t that bizarre,” she said.

“Besides, how are we supposed to meet all the wedding expenses within Rs 2.5 lakh,” she added.

The issue of the curious conditions posed by RBI was also put to the bankers in Kolkata.

“We will follow the RBI’s instruction and take the credit balance of the account as on November 8, even if customers have higher credit balance at the time of withdrawal,” State Bank of India’s Chief General Manager (Kolkata Circle) Partha Pratim Sengupta told IANS.

“There has been complete chaos going on for the last two weeks. From the point of practicality, banks should consider the updated credit balance at the withdrawal but this has not been allowed,” Bank Employees Federation of India General Secretary Pradip Kumar Biswas told IANS.

Asked about the plight of parents required to meet such stiff compliance terms for cash withdrawal, UCO Bank’s Kolkata Zone Nodal Officer Samir Kumar Dey said: “I would not make any comment. You see and judge.”

“Bank branches will ask for the lists of the persons to whom the cash withdrawn will be paid and bank will seek declarations from such persons that they do not have a bank account,” he added.