The Legal Lock



Analyzing the Banking laws in India

By: Gurmehar Randhwa



For several decades, India’s traditional banking system has worked to credit the demands of the country’s economy. The renowned Kautilya Arthashastra, which dates back to the 4th century BC, has allusions to creditors and loans.

Similarly, there is also a mention of “Interest on commodities loaned” (PRAYOG PRATYADANAM) being recognized for governmental revenue.

Therefore, it shows that lending practices were not entirely unknown in medieval society, and principles such as ‘priority of claims of creditors’ and ‘commodity lending’ were well-established commercial procedures.

“The objective of ensuring credit to the government ad to strategically, important sectors. Subsequently, quantitative targets were imposed on these banks to expand their networks in rural areas.”1

However, all through the contemporary age, the foundation of commercial banking in India goes back to the eighteenth century, when the Bank of Calcutta had been constituted in June 1806, which was later renamed as the “Bank of Bengal” in January 1809, primarily to support General Wellesley’s operations.

It was accompanied by establishing the “Bank of Madras” as a joint-stock company in July 1843, via the reorganization and consolidation of four banks, namely “the Madras Bank, the Carnatic Bank, the Bank of Madras, and the Asiatic Bank.”

These banks pioneered an essential role in the financial advances, such as adopting a joint-stock structure, the imposition of limited responsibility on stockholders, and the solicitation of deposits from the general public.

“Rural and urban co-operatives banks have a relatively small share in the banking system. However, given their geographic and demographic outreach, they play a key role in providing access to financial services to low and middle-income households in both rural and urban areas.”2

The Rises of Banking Legislative Regulation within India

The legislative structure was relatively fragmented in the early stages of corporate banking in India, and the Presidency Banks were controlled and monitored by their Royal Charter, the East India Company, and the Government of India.

Even though the Corporate Laws were adopted in India in 1850, they did not extend to banking institutions. The financial crisis of 1913, on the other hand, revealed several vulnerabilities in the Indian banking system, such as institutions’ low share of liquid assets and related lending practices, which resulted in substantial bank collapses.

The Indian Central Banking Enquiry Committee’s (1929-31) conclusions on bank failures paved the way for banking regulatory laws in the nation.

Although the RBI had been empowered with authorities to restrict the amount and pricing of banking investment in the economy via comprehensive credit control tools from its establishment as a component of its savings and insurance mission, and it was not until 1949 that perhaps a full legislation, relevant solely to the banking sector, emerged.

Earlier to 1949, bank corporations, like some other businesses, had been controlled by the Indian Companies Act, 1913, which was a full re-enactment of the older company law of 1850. On the other hand, the Act mentioned above had a few clauses that were particularly pertinent to banking institutions.

A few ad hoc basis acts of parliament address critical regulatory elements, such as the Banking Companies (Inspection) Ordinance, 1946, and the Banking Companies (Restriction of Branches) Act, 1946. Against this backdrop, in March 1949, the Banking Companies Act, 1949, was created, which was still relevant to banking companies; the Act was modified into the Banking Regulation Act in March 1966.

The Reserve Bank was given responsibilities for licensing banking institutions, subsidiary growth, liquidity of its assets, administration and operational methods, merger, restoration, and dissolution under the Act.

Significant revisions have been made to numerous parts of Acts from period to period, with both the goal of enlarging or amplifying the RBI’s duties or imparting discretion to the relevant provisions, following the implications of banking sector advances.

In today’s society, the RBI has covered much ground in gradually strengthening our regulatory emphasis to guarantee a secure and healthy banking system that is equivalent to the finest in the world.

Thus, the RBI gradually matriculated from the framework of on-site Yearly Appraisal of Banks in the 1970s to the scheme of Annual Financial Review in the 1980s, then to the Annual Financial Inspection of stand-alone banks in the 1990s, and finally to the project organization of leading financial institutions to confront supervising concern regarding a group-wide grounds.

Lastly, the Council for Financial Supervision, established in 1994 under the Chairmanship of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, has been a driving force in ensuring the transformation of the banking system’s regulatory and supervisory machinery.

While the multifaceted regulatory and supervisory actions are appropriately reflected in the significantly improved prudential parameters of the Indian banking industry, whether it be the proportion of NPAs or solvency position ratios, there is little space for complacency.

Banking Legal Framework

Six statutes currently govern commercial banks: the Banking Regulation Act of 1949, the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertaking) Act of 1970/1980, the State Bank of India Act of 1955, the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act of 1959, the Industrial Development Bank (Transfer of Undertaking and Repeal) Act of 2003, and the Companies Act of 2013.

These legislations have embedded clauses that, among other things, make amalgamation difficult. “Banks are being forced by governments and regulators to do stuff they do not want to do a raft of regulations are being introduced, designed to protect citizens and businesses from loses, and aid governments and law enforcers.”3

A study issued in 2004 by Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) titled “Consolidation in the Indian Banking System: Legal, Regulatory, and Other Issues” recommended, among many other things, introducing commercial banks underneath the Companies Act (corporatization of banks) to guarantee that lawful dispensation for consolidations and conglomerations in the banking industry is comparable to those of merger and acquisitions.

In addition, the Committee on Fuller Capital Account Convertibility recommended that all commercial banks be registered under a single Act, the Companies Act, and regulated under the Banking Regulation Act to provide a fair contest.

Considering the circumstances, it is worthwhile to consider if, regardless of the manner of formation, all financial institutions can indeed be placed underneath the terms of the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 and the Companies Act of 2013.

According to the Banking Industry Regulatory Structural adjustment Committee’s recommendation, a draught Financial Markets Code, a single cohesive and internally consistent draught legislation that substitutes a significant portion of the present Indian legal framework controlling banking should be developed.

Furthermore, the Commission advocates institutional autonomy and competitiveness in the legislative structure, where accountability criteria for financial entities are independent of the banking firm’s organizational shape or management.

Tax Laws That Apply To Banking Operations

Corporations, institutions, and banking firms, like every functional area, must verify those specific relevant requirements of the numerous tax laws (Income Tax Act, Finance Act, etc.) are followed in order to calculate and file tax returns, professional tax, goods, and services tax, and so on.

Aside from the position of operator and recipient of operations, banks are taxed on accumulated interest to clients following government guidelines, such as TDS on interest payable on fixed deposits, NRO deposits, etc.

In light of the preceding, businesses should verify that:

  • (i)In light of the preceding, businesses should verify that:
  • (ii) calculated payments are always paid to the appropriate authorities by the deadline. This is a critical period preceding, and institutions may face action and punishment if they fail to comply or provide incorrect computation.
  • (iii) Banks are also expected to preserve detailed records of collection of taxes and payment.
  • (iv) In contrast to the preceding, bankers must notify the facts to such regulators over a specific time range. Quarterly reporting, along with half-year and/or annual declarations, would be required.
  • (v) At the moment of payroll to workers, banks usually subtract appropriate tax and provide the appropriate TDS certifications on form 16 to be sent to employees. TDS on form 16A should be provided to providers for additional contributions such as payments to contractors, etc. Those TDS (16 and 16A forms) should serve as proof of tax deducted and a record.
  • Allow workers and service providers/professionals to obtain tax refunds.


The global growth of the financial system is a one-of-a-kind contribution to humanity. The development of legal control of the Indian banking system and throughout the world is being debated to enhance the banking industry.

Following that, the financial services framework and relevant theoretical were designed to create this industry in the interest of the public. The voyage of tiny banks and their experiences in the Indian environment is also extensively examined to understand this banking system better.

The basic concepts concerning incorporation, the formation of the Central Board, the activities of the Central Board, disqualifications, and so on were thoroughly reviewed. This section is vital to understand the applicability of special regulations about businesses that banks may not engage in.

The specific conditions under which a bank may or may not trade with others are further specified in the Act’s numerous clauses.


  1. S. Nehru, Economic Reforms In India: Achievements and challenges,321, MJP publishers, 2013
  2. Duvvuri Subbarao, Banking Structure in India – Looking Ahead by Looking Back, 13, RBI Monthly Bulletin, 2013.
  3. Chris Skinner, The Future of Banking: In a Globalized World,1, ( John Wiley & Sons, 2007)