RBI liable to disclose information about banks under RTI Act: Supreme Court

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Who: RBI liable to disclose information about banks
What: Ruled by Supreme Court
When: 16 December 2015

The Supreme Court on 16 December 2015 held that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is liable to disclose information about the banks and financial institutions for their action against the loan defaulters including industrialists under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

The Court further ruled that RBI has statutory duty to uphold public interest and not the interest of individual banks. It has no legal duty to maximise the benefit of any public sector or private sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of trust between them.

It also added that RBI does not place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the financial institutions as the reports of inspections, statements of bank and information related to business obtained by the RBI are not under pretext of confidence or trust.

The bench made the remark while dismissing pleas filed by RBI and other private and nationalised banks against the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) order to SBI and other banks for disclosure of information under the RTI Act.

The ruling was made by a bench headed by M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan.

Background
The Bench gave the ruling against the petition filed by PP Kapoor, who had asked about the details of the loans taken by the industrialists that have not been repaid and he had asked about the names of the top defaulters who have not repaid their loans to public sector banks.

However, the RBI resisted the disclosure of the information claiming exemption under Section 8(1) (angel) and 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act on the ground that disclosure would affect the economic interest of the country.

In November 2011, the CIC found these arguments made by RBI to be totally misconceived in facts and in law and held that the disclosure is in public interest.

Section 2(F) of RTI Act, 2005
The Section 2(F) of the RTI Act, 2005 clearly provides that the inspection reports, documents, etc fall under the purview of Information which is obtained by the public authority (RBI) from a private body (Banks and financial institutions).