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Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

25th April, 2024 Economy

Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

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  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed Kotak Mahindra Bank to halt the onboarding of new customers through online and mobile banking channels.
  • Additionally, the RBI has barred the bank from issuing fresh credit cards, effective immediately.
  • This was done under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

The Banking Regulation Act, 1949


  • The Banking Regulation Act, 1949 is a key legislation in India that regulates all banking firms in the country.
  • Originally known as the Banking Companies Act 1949, it was renamed the Banking Regulation Act 1949 in 1966.
  • The Act came into force on 16 March 1949, and its name was changed on 1 March 1966.
  • It became applicable in Jammu and Kashmir from 1956.
  • The Act was amended in 1965 to include cooperative banks and introduce other changes.

Key Provisions

  • The Act provides a framework for the supervision and regulation of commercial banking in India.
  • It supplements the Companies Act, 1956, which governs the incorporation, regulation, and winding up of companies.
  • The Act excludes certain entities like the Primary Agricultural Credit Society and cooperative land mortgage banks from its purview.

Powers Granted to RBI

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is empowered to license banks under the Act.
  • The RBI has the authority to regulate the shareholding and voting rights of shareholders in banks.
  • It supervises the appointment of the boards and management of banks.
  • The RBI regulates the operations of banks to ensure compliance with the Act.
  • The Act allows the RBI to issue instructions for audits of banks.
  • It empowers the RBI to control moratoriums, mergers, and liquidations of banks.
  • The RBI can issue directives in the public interest and on banking policy.
  • The Act also provides for the imposition of penalties for non-compliance with its provisions.

Amendment in 1965

  • The Act was amended in 1965 to bring cooperative banks under its purview.
  • Section 56 was added to the Act to include cooperative banks.
  • Cooperative banks, which operate within a single state, are formed and run by the state government.
  • However, RBI controls the licensing and regulates the business operations of these banks.

Features of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

  • Restrictions on Non-banking Companies: Forbidden from receiving money deposits payable on demand.
  • Risk Reduction: Prohibits trading by banking companies to reduce non-banking risks.
  • Capital Standards: Mandates maintaining minimum capital standards.
  • Regulation of Share Acquisition: Regulates the acquisition of shares of banking companies.
  • Central Government's Power: Empowered to make schemes for banks.
  • Liquidation Proceedings: Provides provisions regarding liquidation proceedings for banking companies.

Important Provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

  • Definitions: Includes definitions for terms like banking, banking company, branch office, etc.
  • Business Scope: Specifies the business activities that banking companies can undertake.
  • Prohibition of Trading: Prohibits banking companies from directly or indirectly dealing in buying or selling goods.
  • Management Standards: Sets standards for the management of banking companies.
  • Minimum Paid-up Capital and Reserves: Specifies minimum capital and reserves requirements for banking companies.
  • Licensing of Banking Companies: Requires banking companies to obtain a license from RBI to operate in India.
  • Branch Opening: Mandates prior approval from RBI for opening new branches or transferring existing branches.
  • Accounts and Balance-sheet: Requires banking companies to prepare and maintain accounts and balance sheets.
  • Inspection: Allows RBI to inspect banking companies and their documents.
  • Power of RBI to Issue Directions: Grants RBI the power to issue directions to banking companies.
  • Restrictions on Certain Activities: Imposes restrictions on certain activities of banking companies.
  • Powers and Functions of RBI: Specifies the powers and functions of RBI regarding banking companies.
  • Suspension of Business: Allows banking companies to apply for a moratorium in case of temporary inability to meet obligations.
  • Acquisition of Undertakings: Outlines the process for the Central Government to acquire the undertakings of banking companies.
  • Payment of Dividends: Regulates the payment of dividends by banking companies.
  • Reserve Fund: Requires banking companies to form a reserve fund and transfer profits to it.
  • Power of Central Government in Respect of Liquidation: Grants powers to the Central Government regarding the liquidation of banking companies.

Shortcomings of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

  • Limited scope on public sector banks.
  • Insufficient amendments to address stressed assets.
  • Lack of strict provisions for non-performing assets.

Amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

  • Banking Laws (Application To Co-operative Societies) Act, 1965: Added Section 56 and applied to co-operative societies with modifications.
  • Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2020 (Act 39 of 2020): Introduced changes related to cooperative societies, including limitations on business activities and provisions for protecting depositors.

2020 Amendment

  • In 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman introduced a bill to amend the Act.
  • The amendment aimed to bring all cooperative banks under the supervision of the RBI.
  • It brought 1,482 urban and 58 multi-state cooperative banks under the RBI's supervision.
  • The amendment granted the RBI the ability to reconstruct or merge banks without imposing moratoriums.
  • The bill was passed by parliament, further strengthening the regulatory framework for cooperative banks in India.

What is the significance of Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act?

  • Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 grants the RBI the authority to issue directions to banks and take action to prevent banking companies from conducting their affairs in a manner that is harmful to depositors' interests or prejudicial to the interests of the banking company.
  • Under the act, the RBI can also impose restrictions on banks to ensure better governance and control.
  • Section 56 of the act, on the other hand, is specifically applicable to cooperative societies.

Important Sections in Banking Regulation Act 1949

Section Number



Use of words “bank”, “banker”, “banking” or “banking company”.


Power of Reserve Bank to appoint chairman of the Board of directors appointed on a whole-time basis or a managing director of a banking company.


Requirement as to minimum paid-up capital and reserves.


Regulation of paid-up capital, subscribed capital and authorised capital and voting rights of shareholders.


Restrictions as to payment of dividend.


Reserve Fund.


Cash reserve.


Restrictions on loans and advances.


Power of Reserve Bank to control advances by banking companies.


Rates of interest charged by banking companies not to be subject to scrutiny by courts.


Licensing of banking companies.


Prohibits banks from opening a new place of business(branches) in India or abroad, change of premises otherwise than within the same city, change otherwise than within the town or village, without prior approval of RBI.


Statutory Liquidity Ratio.


Every banking company to submit an annual return to RBI in respect of all accounts in India which have not been operated upon for 10 years.


Accounts and balance-sheet.


Power of the Reserve Bank to give directions.


Power of Reserve Bank to remove managerial and other persons from office.


Power of Reserve Bank to appoint additional directors.


Power of Central Government to acquire undertakings of banking companies in certain cases.


Power of the Central Government to make scheme.


Reserve Bank to be official liquidator.




Power of Reserve Bank to impose penalty.


Special provisions for private banking companies.


Restriction on acceptance of deposits withdrawable by cheque.


Change of name by a banking company.


Application of certain provisions to the State Bank of India and other notified banks.


Power of Central Government to make rules.


Act to apply to co-operative societies subject to modifications.

The important sections in the Banking Regulation Act 1949 related to RBI's Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) include:

  • Section 36AA: Power of Reserve Bank to remove managerial persons from office.
  • Section 36ACA: Power of Reserve Bank to supersede the Board or recommend supersession of the Board.


  • In conclusion, the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, serves as a crucial framework for regulating banking companies in India. The Act imposes restrictions on banks to prevent fraud and safeguard depositors' interests.
  • It also outlines procedures for winding up banking companies and addresses aspects of acquisition and mergers.
  • Overall, the Act has facilitated the structured growth of banking companies, addressing gaps that existed before its enactment in 1949.


Q. Explain the importance of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, in regulating banking companies in India. How do the Act's restrictions prevent fraud and protect depositors' interests? Evaluate its effectiveness in ensuring the stability of the banking sector.