The MICR clearing platform has been phased out now. It has been replaced by the new CTS clearing platform. The images of the cheques are presented for verification purpose instead of the physical instruments. Thus the time spent in the travel of a physical cheque from one bank to another has been saved. A customer can now obtain the credit for the cheque presented by him the next day, earlier he had to wait for three days when of MICR clearing was in process.

However, the new CTS platform also has its limitations. Not all the scanned images are of good or at least acceptable quality. So the physical cheque needs to be provided to the verifying officer to enable him to take good decision. Thus Paper to follow session has been introduced by the NPCI to solve this issue.

In order to avoid the frauds occurring in CTS clearing, the cheques with a value of Rs 2,00,000/- and above were segregated as high value cheques. The banks check for ultraviolet signature on these cheques, to confirm the originality. Also the banks obtain confirmation from the customers regarding the issue of such cheques.

CTS Clearing process: A cheque is submitted by the customer to that branch of his bank where he has an account and wants to deposit the money mentioned in the cheque. This branch forwards the cheque to that branch where the scanning of cheques is done i.e Clearing house, City Back Office etc. Here the cheque is scanned and forwarded to NPCI. NPCI forwards the cheque to the concerned bank which holds the amount mentioned on the cheque, to verify the cheque and release it for the purpose of deposit in that customer’s account, who presented the cheque.

High Value Confirmation: During this process the high value customers of the Branches of Indian PSB’s get calls from the branch, on the numbers provided by them to the bank while opening the account, inquiring whether the customer has issued the said cheque, after mentioning the details of that cheque like cheque number, amount asking them to confirm the payee name. These customers are also contacted by the Clearing house of this bank for the same reason. Since these customers present many high value cheques on a daily basis, they get called frequently. Thus their daily routine gets disturbed. They start thinking about leaving the bank and migrating to another bank to obtain peace of mind.

Meanwhile the other customers sign cheques below limit for high value confirmation. They sign cheques for Rs 1,99,999/- or Rs 1,99,900/- etc. to avoid calls from the bank.

The newly appointed Probationary Officers i.e. junior officers pass the cheques of the same value as those being passed by their seniors, but the salary obtained by the seniors is higher as compared to the junior officers. Also the seniors pass less number of cheques as compared to the junior officers, hence they take lesser risk as compared.

The seniors are obviously trusted because they have more experience, so they should have taken the risk and passed all the high value cheques. But instead of doing that,  they try to avoid the risk and do not give the high value cheques the special attention they need. The junior officers are new so they cannot complain about this work avoidance routine followed by their seniors. Moreover where can they complain? The Branch Manager himself is involved in protecting the seniors because they are of the same age, the management will not listen to a junior officer and the Union would not entertain, because the unions are headed by the old men and not young ones.

The CTS clearing has lead to exploitation of the newly appointed Probationary Officers in Indian PSB’s because they are the ones who verify these cheques. They do not know about their rights and duties and hence they do not raise questions about the same via. their Unions.  A peaceful atmosphere is therefore maintained with the help of the HR department. These officers are forced to pass 800 cheques in a single Inward Clearing session. In addition they are also forced to pass cheques in Outward Clearing session and also do data entry if required. If an officer who entered the data for a particular cheque in Outward Clearing verifies the same, what is the purpose of introduction of the checker maker concept?

These new officers work for more than ten hours on a daily basis at the City Back Office of an Indian Public Sector bank in Pune. The conditions may be better or worse in other clearing houses. Only your comments can let us know.

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