“Why is RBI fighting tooth and nail to defend defaulters?”
Central Information Commission (CIC): A Bench comprising of Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu issued a show-cause notice to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel holding him as deemed Public Information Officer (PIO) responsible for non-disclosure of a list of wilful defaulters of big bad loans worth crores of rupees.
A Jaipur-based RTI activist sought information from respondent about wilful defaulters of bank loans of Rs 50 crores and above, names of guarantors, details of sanction of loans, default and details of NPA accounts, and cost and investment of the projects for employment generating schemes initiated by the Central Government between 2005 and 2018 along with the list of failed projects. The CPIO dismissed the request stating that the information was not maintained in the form sought. Aggrieved by the said order, a first appeal was preferred wherein the reply of CPIO was upheld. The said circumstances necessitated the instant second appeal.
The Commission observed that RBI is a statutory regulatory authority whose function is to oversee the functioning of banks and the country’s banking sector. It is supposed to uphold public interest and not the interest of individual banks. Thus, RBI ought to act with transparency and not hide information that might embarrass individual banks. Financial institutions are obliged to provide all information to RBI and such information cannot be considered to be shared in the capacity of a fiduciary relationship. RBI was held to be duty bound to comply with provisions of RTI Act and disclose the information sought by the appellant.
Commission issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor asking him to explain as to why maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed on him for wilful defiance of RTI provisions. It also directed RBI to disclose bad debt details of defaulters worth more than Rs 1000 crore at the beginning, Rs 500 crore or less at a later stage within five days and collect such information from the banks in due course to update their voluntary disclosures from time to time as a practice under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act. [Sandeep Singh Jadoun v. PIO, DGEAT, CIC/DGEAT/A/2018/117567, decided on 02-11-2018]