RBI 2 reply RTI query, give banking info, for natnl interest. Balance secrecy & public good. SC

In a classic judgement the Hon Apex court has decreed that IF necessary, and in the interest of public good, the information collected by RBI from commercial banks is to be shared with the public. This landmark judgement goes on to describe what is a fiduciary relationship, whether RBI is in a fiduciary relationship at all times with commercial banks ? , what is power of the citizen to obtain info, the balance between confidentiality and greater public good etc !!

A must read for those willing to extract info from banks and other RTI enthusiasts

some key excerpts from the Apex court’s judgement

“…..60.   RBI is supposed to uphold public interest  and  not  the  interest  of individual banks.  RBI is clearly not in  any  fiduciary  relationship  with any bank.  RBI has no legal duty to  maximize  the  benefit  of  any  public sector or private sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of  ‘trust’ between them.  RBI has a statutory  duty  to  uphold  the  interest  of  the public at large, the depositors,  the  country’s  economy  and  the  banking sector.  Thus, RBI ought to act with transparency and not  hide  information that might embarrass individual banks.  It is duty bound to comply with  the provisions of the RTI  Act  and  disclose  the  information  sought  by  the respondents herein…..”

61.   The  baseless  and  unsubstantiated  argument  of  the  RBI  that  the disclosure would hurt the  economic  interest  of  the  country  is  totally misconceived. In the impugned order, the CIC has given  several  reasons  to state why the disclosure of the information sought by the respondents  would hugely serve public interest,  and  non-disclosure  would  be  significantly detrimental to public interest and not in the economic  interest  of  India. RBI’s argument that if people, who are sovereign,  are  made  aware  of  the irregularities being committed by the  banks  then  the  country’s  economic security  would  be  endangered,  is  not  only  absurd   but   is   equally misconceived and baseless.

62.  The exemption contained  in  Section  8(1)(e)  applies  to  exceptional cases and only with regard to  certain  pieces  of  information,  for  which disclosure is unwarranted or undesirable. If information is  available  with a regulatory agency not in fiduciary relationship, there  is  no  reason  to withhold the disclosure of the same. However, where information is  required by mandate of law to be provided to an authority, it  cannot  be  said  that such information is being provided in a fiduciary relationship.  As  in  the instant case, the Financial institutions have an obligation to  provide  all the information  to  the  RBI  and  such  an  information  shared  under  an obligation/ duty cannot be considered to come under  the  purview  of  being shared in fiduciary relationship.  One  of  the  main  characteristic  of  a Fiduciary relationship is “Trust and Confidence”.  Something  that  RBI  and the Banks lack between them.

63.   In the present case, we have to weigh between the public interest  and fiduciary relationship (which is  being  shared  between  the  RBI  and  the Banks). Since, RTI Act is enacted to empower the common people, the test  to determine limits of Section 8 of RTI Act is whether  giving  information  to the general public would be detrimental to the  economic  interests  of  the country? To what extent the public should be allowed to get information?

64.   In the context of above questions, it  had  long  since  come  to  our attention that the Public Information Officers (PIO) under the guise of  one of the exceptions given under Section 8 of RTI Act, have evaded the  general public from getting their hands on the rightful information  that  they  are entitled to.

65.   And in this case the RBI and the Banks have  sidestepped  the  General public’s demand  to  give  the  requisite  information  on  the  pretext  of “Fiduciary relationship” and “Economic Interest”. This attitude of  the  RBI will only attract more suspicion and disbelief in them. RBI as a  regulatory authority should work to make the Banks accountable to their actions.

66.   Furthermore, the RTI Act under Section 2(f) 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……….”

************************************************************

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 91 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 707 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ……..Petitioner(s)
versus
Jayantilal N. Mistry                         …..Respondent(s)

With

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 92 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 708 of 2012)

I.C.I.C.I Bank Limited                  …….. Petitioner(s)
versus
S.S. Vohra and others                   ………Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 93 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 711 of 2012)

National Bank for Agriculture
and Rural Development                   ………Petitioner(s)
versus
Kishan Lal Mittal                            ………Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 94 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 712 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ……….Petitioner(s)
versus
P.P. Kapoor                             ……….Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 95 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 713 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ……….Petitioner(s)
versus
Subhas Chandra Agrawal                  ……….Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 96 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 715 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ……….Petitioner(s)
versus
Raja M. Shanmugam                       ……….Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 97 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 716 of 2012)

National Bank for Agriculture
and Rural Development                   ……….Petitioner(s)
versus
Sanjay Sitaram Kurhade                  ……….Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 98 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 717 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ……….Petitioner(s)
versus
K.P. Muralidharan Nair                         ………..Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 99 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 718 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ……….Petitioner(s)
versus
Ashwini Dixit                                ………..Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 100 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 709 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ………Petitioner(s)
versus
A.Venugopal and another                      ………Respondent(s)

TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 101 OF 2015
(Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 714 of 2012)

Reserve Bank of India                   ………Petitioner(s)
versus
Dr. Mohan K. Patil and others                ………Respondent(s)

JUDGMENT

M.Y. EQBAL, J.

The main issue that arises for our consideration in these  transferred cases is as to whether all the information sought for  under  the  Right  to Information Act, 2005 can be denied by the Reserve Bank of India  and  other Banks to the public at large on the ground of economic interest,  commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship with other Bank on the one hand  and  the public interest on the other.   If  the  answer  to  above  question  is  in negative, then upto what extent the information can be  provided  under  the 2005 Act.

2.    It has been contended by the RBI that it carries  out  inspections  of banks and  financial  institutions  on  regular  basis  and  the  inspection reports prepared  by  it  contain  a  wide  range  of  information  that  is collected in a fiduciary capacity.  The facts in brief of the Transfer  Case No.91 of 2015 are that during May-June, 2010  the  statutory  inspection  of Makarpura Industrial Estate Cooperative  Bank  Ltd.  was  conducted  by  RBI under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Thereafter,  in  October  2010,  the Respondent sought following information from the CPIO of RBI under  the  Act of 2005, reply to which is tabulated hereunder:

|Sr. No.|Information sought         |Reply                         |
|1.     |Procedure  Rules and       |RBI is conducting inspections |
|       |Regulations of Inspection  |under Section 35 of the B.R.  |
|       |being carried out on       |Act 1949 (AACS) at prescribed |
|       |Co-operative Banks         |intervals.                    |
|2.     |Last RBI investigation and |The Information sought is     |
|       |audit report carried out by|maintained by the bank in a   |
|       |Shri Santosh Kumar during  |fiduciary capacity and was    |
|       |23rd April, 2010 to 6th    |obtained by Reserve Bank      |
|       |May, 2010 sent to Registrar|during the course of          |
|       |of the Cooperative of the  |inspection of the bank and    |
|       |Gujarat State, Gandhinagar |hence cannot be given to the  |
|       |on Makarpura Industrial    |outsiders. Moreover,          |
|       |Estate Co-op Bank Ltd Reg. |disclosure of such information|
|       |No.2808                    |may harm the interest of the  |
|       |                           |bank & banking system.  Such  |
|       |                           |information is also exempt    |
|       |                           |from disclosure under Section |
|       |                           |8(1) (a) & (e) of the RTI Act,|
|       |                           |2005.                         |
|3.     |Last 20 years inspection   |Same as at (2) above          |
|       |(carried  out with name of |                              |
|       |inspector) report on  above|                              |
|       |bank and action taken      |                              |
|       |report.                    |                              |
|4.     |(i) Reports on all         |Same as at (2) above          |
|       |co-operative banks gone on |This information is not       |
|       |liquidation                |available with the Department |
|       |(ii) action taken against  |                              |
|       |all Directors and Managers |                              |
|       |for recovery of public     |                              |
|       |funds and powers utilized  |                              |
|       |by RBI and analysis and    |                              |
|       |procedure adopted.         |                              |
|5.     |Name of remaining          | No specific information has  |
|       |co-operative banks under   |been sought                   |
|       |your observations against  |                              |
|       |irregularities and action  |                              |
|       |taken reports              |                              |
|6.     |Period required to take    |No specific information has   |
|       |action and implementations |been sought                   |

3.    On 30.3.2011, the First Appellate Authority disposed of the appeal  of the respondent agreeing with the reply given by CPIO  in  query  No.2,  3  & first part of 4, relying on the decision of the Full Bench of CIC passed  in the case of Ravin Ranchochodlal  Patel  and  another  vs.  Reserve  Bank  of India.   Thereafter,  in  the  second  appeal  preferred  by  the  aggrieved respondent, the Central Information Commission by the impugned  order  dated 01.11.2011, directed RBI to  provide  information  as  per  records  to  the Respondent in relation to queries Nos.2 to 6 before  30.11.2011.   Aggrieved by the decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC), petitioner  RBI moved the Delhi High Court by way of a Writ Petition inter alia praying  for quashing of the aforesaid order of the CIC. The High  Court,  while  issuing notice, stayed the operation of the aforesaid order.

4.     Similarly, in Transfer Case No. 92 of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought following information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005,  reply  to which is tabulated hereunder:

|Sr.  |Information sought         |Reply                         |
|No.  |                           |                              |
|1.   |The Hon’ble FM made a      |In the absence of the specific|
|     |written statement on the   |details, we are not able to   |
|     |Floor of the House which   |provide any information.      |
|     |inter alia must have been  |                              |
|     |made after verifying the   |                              |
|     |records from RBI and the   |                              |
|     |Bank must have the copy of |                              |
|     |the facts as reported by   |                              |
|     |FM.  Please supply copy of |                              |
|     |the note sent to FM        |                              |
|2.   |The Hon’ble FM  made a     |We do not have this           |
|     |statement that some of the |information.                  |
|     |banks like SBI, ICICI Bank |                              |
|     |Ltd, Bank of Baroda, Dena  |                              |
|     |Bank, HSBC Bank etc. were  |                              |
|     |issued letter of           |                              |
|     |displeasure for violating  |                              |
|     |FEMA guidelines for opening|                              |
|     |of accounts where as some  |                              |
|     |other banks were even fined|                              |
|     |Rupees one crore for such  |                              |
|     |violations.  Please give me|                              |
|     |the names of the banks with|                              |
|     |details of violations      |                              |
|     |committed by them.         |                              |
|3.   |‘Advisory Note’ issued to  |An Advisory Letter had been   |
|     |ICICI Bank for account     |issued to the bank in         |
|     |opened by some fraudsters  |December, 2007 for the bank’s |
|     |at its Patna Branch        |Patna branch having failed to |
|     |Information sought about   |(a) comply with the RBI       |
|     |“exact nature of           |guidelines on customer        |
|     |irregularities committed by|identification,               |
|     |the bank under “FEMA”. Also|opening/operating customer    |
|     |give list of other         |accounts, (b) the bank not    |
|     |illegalities committed by  |having followed the normal    |
|     |IBL and other details of   |banker’s prudence while       |
|     |offences committed by IBL  |opening an account in         |
|     |through various branches in|question.                     |
|     |India and abroad along with|As regards the list of        |
|     |action taken by the        |supervisory action taken by   |
|     |Regulator including the    |us, it may be stated that the |
|     |names and designations of  |query is too general and not  |
|     |his officials branch name, |specific.  Further, we may    |
|     |type of offence committed  |state that Supervisory actions|
|     |etc.  The exact nature of  |taken were based on the       |
|     |offences committed by Patna|scrutiny conducted under      |
|     |Branch of the bank and     |Section 35 of the Banking     |
|     |other branches of the bank |Regulation (BR) Act.  The     |
|     |and names of his officials |information in the scrutiny   |
|     |involved, type of offence  |report is held in fiduciary   |
|     |committed by them and      |capacity and the disclosure of|
|     |punishment awarded by      |which can affect the economic |
|     |concerned authority, names |interest of the country and   |
|     |and designation of the     |also affect the commercial    |
|     |designated authority, who  |confidence  of the bank.  And |
|     |investigated the above case|such information is also      |
|     |and his findings and       |exempt from disclosure under  |
|     |punishment awarded.”       |Section 8(1)(a)(d) & (e) of   |
|     |                           |the RTI Act (extracts         |
|     |                           |enclosed). We, therefore, are |
|     |                           |unable to accede to your      |
|     |                           |request.                      |
|4.   |Exact nature of            |In this regard, self explicit |
|     |irregularities committed by|print out taken from the      |
|     |ICICI Bank in Hong Kong    |website of Securities and     |
|     |                           |Futures Commission, Hong Kong |
|     |                           |is enclosed.                  |
|5.   |ICICI Bank’s Moscow Branch |We do not have the            |
|     |involved in money          |information.                  |
|     |laundering act.            |                              |
|6.   |Imposition of fine on ICICI|We do not have any information|
|     |Bank under Section 13 of   |to furnish in this regard.    |
|     |the PMLA for loss of       |                              |
|     |documents in floods .      |                              |
|7.   |Copy of the Warning or     |As regards your request for   |
|     |‘Advisory Note’ issued     |copies/details of advisory    |
|     |twice issued to the bank in|letters to ICICI Bank, we may |
|     |the last two years and     |state that such information is|
|     |reasons recorded therein.  |exempt from disclosure under  |
|     |Name and designation of the|Section 8(1)(a)(d) and (e) of |
|     |authority who conducted    |the RTI Act.  The scrutiny of |
|     |this check and his decision|records of the ICICI Bank is  |
|     |to issue an advisory note  |conducted by our Department of|
|     |only instead of penalties  |Banking Supervision (DBS). The|
|     |to be imposed under the    |Chief General Manager-in      |
|     |Act.                       |charge of the DBS, Centre     |
|     |                           |Office Reserve Bank of India  |
|     |                           |is Shri S. Karuppasamy.       |

 

5.    In this matter, it has been alleged by the  petitioner  RBI  that  the respondent is aggrieved on account of his application form for  three-in-one account with the Bank and  ICICI  Securities  Limited  (ISEC)  lost  in  the floods in July, 2005 and because of non-submission  of  required  documents, the  Trading  account  with  ISEC  was  suspended,  for   which   respondent approached the District Consumer  Forum,  which  rejected  the  respondent’s allegations of tempering of records  and  dismissed  the  complaint  of  the respondent.   His  appeal  was  also  dismissed  by  the  State  Commission. Respondent then moved an application under the Act  of  2005  pertaining  to the suspension of operation of his said trading account.   As  the  consumer complaint as well as  the  abovementioned  application  did  not  yield  any result for the respondent, he made an application under the Act  before  the CPIO, SEBI, appeal to which went up to the CIC, the Division Bench of  which disposed of his appeal upholding the decision of the CPIO and the  Appellate Authority of SEBI.  Thereafter, in August 2009, respondent once  again  made the present application under the Act seeking aforesaid information.   Being aggrieved by the order of the appellate authority, respondent  moved  second appeal before the CIC, who by the impugned order directed the  CPIO  of  RBI to furnish information pertaining to Advisory  Notes  as  requested  by  the respondent within 15 working days.  Hence, RBI approached Bombay High  Court by way of writ petition.

6.    In Transfer Case No. 93  of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following information from the  CPIO  of  National  Bank  for  Agriculture  and  Rural Development under the Act of 2005, reply to which is tabulated hereunder:-

 

|Sl.  |Information Sought           |Reply                          |
|No.  |                             |                               |
|1.   |Copies of inspection reports |Furnishing of information is   |
|     |of Apex Co-operative Banks of|exempt under Section 8(1)(a) of|
|     |various States/Mumbai DCCB   |the RTI Act.                   |
|     |from 2005 till date          |                               |
|2.   |Copies of all correspondences|Different Departments in NABARD|
|     |with Maharashtra State       |deal with various issues       |
|     |Govt./RBI/any other agency of|related to MSCB. The query is  |
|     |State/Central Co-operative   |general in nature.  Applicant  |
|     |Bank from January, 2010 till |may please be specific in      |
|     |date.                        |query/information sought.      |
|3.   |Provide confirmed/draft      |Furnishing of information is   |
|     |minutes of meetings of       |exempt under  Sec. 8(1)(d) of  |
|     |Governing Board/Board of     |the RTI Act.                   |
|     |Directors/Committee of       |                               |
|     |Directors of NABARD from     |                               |
|     |April, 2007 till date        |                               |
|4.   |Provide information on       |Compliance available on the    |
|     |compliance of Section 4 of   |website of NABARD i.e.         |
|     |RTI Act, 2005 by NABARD      |www.nabard.org                 |
|5.   |Information may be provided  |-                              |
|     |on a CD                      |                               |

7.    The First Appellate Authority concurred with the CPIO  and  held  that inspection report cannot be supplied in terms of Section 8(1)(a) of the  RTI Act. The Respondent filed  Second  Appeal  before  the  Central  Information Commission, which was allowed. The RBI filed writ petition before  the  High Court challenging the order of the CIC dated 14.11.2011 on  identical  issue and the High Court stayed the operation of the order of the CIC.

8.    In Transfer Case No. 94  of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005, reply  to  which  is tabulated hereunder:

 

|Sl.   |Information Sought         |Reply                          |
|No.   |                           |                               |
|1.    | As mentioned at 2(a) what |Pursuant to the then Finance   |
|      |is RBI doing about         |Minister’s Budget Speech made  |
|      |uploading the entire list  |in Parliament on 28th February,|
|      |of Bank defaulters on the  |1994, in order to alert the    |
|      |bank’s website? When will  |banks and FIs and put them on  |
|      |it be done? Why is it not  |guard against the defaulters to|
|      |done?                      |other lending institutions. RBI|
|      |                           |has put in place scheme to     |
|      |                           |collect details about borrowers|
|      |                           |of banks and FIs  with         |
|      |                           |outstanding aggregating Rs. 1  |
|      |                           |crore and above  which are     |
|      |                           |classified as ‘Doubtful’ or    |
|      |                           |‘Loss or where suits are filed,|
|      |                           |as on 31st March and 30th      |
|      |                           |September each year. In        |
|      |                           |February 1999, Reserve Bank of |
|      |                           |India had also introduced a    |
|      |                           |scheme for collection and      |
|      |                           |dissemination of information on|
|      |                           |cases of willful default of    |
|      |                           |borrowers  with outstanding    |
|      |                           |balance of Rs. 25 lakh and     |
|      |                           |above.  At present, RBI        |
|      |                           |disseminates list of above said|
|      |                           |non suit filed ‘doubtful’ and  |
|      |                           |‘loss’ borrowed accounts of    |
|      |                           |Rs.1 crore and above on        |
|      |                           |half-yearly basis (i.e. as on  |
|      |                           |March 31 and September 30) to  |
|      |                           |banks and FIs. for their       |
|      |                           |confidential use.  The list of |
|      |                           |non-suit filed accounts of     |
|      |                           |willful defaulters of Rs. 25   |
|      |                           |lakh and above is also         |
|      |                           |disseminated on quarterly basis|
|      |                           |to banks and FIs for their     |
|      |                           |confidential use. Section 45 E |
|      |                           |of the Reserve Bank of India   |
|      |                           |Act 1934 prohibits the Reserve |
|      |                           |Bank from disclosing  ‘credit  |
|      |                           |information’ except in the     |
|      |                           |manner provided therein.       |
|      |                           |However, Banks and FIs were    |
|      |                           |advised on October 1, 2002 to  |
|      |                           |furnish information in respect |
|      |                           |of suit-filed accounts between |
|      |                           |Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 1 crore from|
|      |                           |the period ended March, 2002 in|
|      |                           |a phased manner to CIBIL only. |
|      |                           |CIBIL is placing the list of   |
|      |                           |defaulters (suit filed         |
|      |                           |accounts) of Rs. 1 crore and   |
|      |                           |above and list of willful      |
|      |                           |defaulters (suit filed         |
|      |                           |accounts) of Rs. 25 lakh and   |
|      |                           |above as on March 31, 2003 and |
|      |                           |onwards on its website         |
|      |                           |(www.cibil.com)                |

 

9.    The Central Information Commission heard  the  parties  through  video conferencing.  The CIC directed  the  CPIO  of  the  petitioner  to  provide information as per the records to the Respondent in relation to  query  Nos. 2(b) and 2(c) before  10.12.2011.  The  Commission  has  also  directed  the Governor RBI to display this information on its website  before  31.12.2011, in fulfillment of its obligations under Section 4(1)(b) (xvii) of the  Right to Information Act, 2005 and to update it each year.

10.   In Transfer Case No.95 of 2015, following information was  sought  and reply to it is tabulated hereunder:

 

|Sl.  |Information Sought                |Reply                   |
|No.  |                                  |                        |
|1.   |Complete and detailed information |As the violations of    |
|     |including related                 |which the banks were    |
|     |documents/correspondence/file     |issued Show Cause       |
|     |noting etc of RBI on imposing     |Notices and subsequently|
|     |fines on some banks for violating |imposed penalties and   |
|     |rules like also referred  in      |based on the findings of|
|     |enclosed news clipping            |the Annual Financial    |
|     |                                  |Inspection (AFI) of the |
|     |                                  |banks, and the          |
|     |                                  |information is received |
|     |                                  |by us in a fiduciary    |
|     |                                  |capacity, the disclosure|
|     |                                  |of such information     |
|     |                                  |would prejudicially     |
|     |                                  |affect the economic     |
|     |                                  |interests of the State  |
|     |                                  |and harm the bank’s     |
|     |                                  |competitive position.   |
|     |                                  |The                     |
|     |                                  |SCNs/findings/reports/  |
|     |                                  |associated              |
|     |                                  |correspondences/orders  |
|     |                                  |are therefore  exempt   |
|     |                                  |from disclosure in terms|
|     |                                  |of the provisions of    |
|     |                                  |Section 8(1)(a) (d) and |
|     |                                  |(e) of the RTI Act,     |
|     |                                  |2005.                   |
|2.   |Complete list of banks which were |                        |
|     |issued show cause notices before  |                        |
|     |fine was imposed as also referred |                        |
|     |in enclosed news clipping         |                        |
|     |mentioning also default for which |                        |
|     |show cause notice was issued to   |                        |
|     |each of such banks                |                        |
|2.   |Complete list of banks which were |-do-                    |
|     |issued show cause notices before  |                        |
|     |fine was imposed as also referred |                        |
|     |in enclosed news clippings        |                        |
|     |mentioning also default for which |                        |
|     |show cause notice was issued to   |                        |
|     |each of such banks.               |                        |
|3.   |List of banks out of those in     |Do                      |
|     |query (2) above where fine was not|                        |
|     |imposed  giving details like if   |                        |
|     |their reply was satisfactory etc. |                        |
|4.   |List of banks which were          |The names of the 19     |
|     |ultimately found guilty and fines |banks and details of    |
|     |mentioning also amount of fine on |penalty imposed on them |
|     |each of the bank and criterion to |are furnished in Annex  |
|     |decide fine on each of the bank   |1.  Regarding the       |
|     |                                  |criterion for deciding  |
|     |                                  |the fine, the penalties |
|     |                                  |have been imposed on    |
|     |                                  |these banks for         |
|     |                                  |contravention of various|
|     |                                  |directions and          |
|     |                                  |instructions such as    |
|     |                                  |failure to carry out    |
|     |                                  |proper due diligence on |
|     |                                  |user appropriateness and|
|     |                                  |suitability of products,|
|     |                                  |selling derivative      |
|     |                                  |products to users not   |
|     |                                  |having proper risk      |
|     |                                  |Management policies, not|
|     |                                  |verifying the underlying|
|     |                                  |/adequacy of underlying |
|     |                                  |and eligible limits     |
|     |                                  |under past performance  |
|     |                                  |route, issued by RBI in |
|     |                                  |respect of derivative   |
|     |                                  |transactions.           |
|5.   |Is fine imposed /action taken on  |No other bank was       |
|     |some other banks also other than  |penalized other than    |
|     |as mentioned in enclosed news     |those mentioned in the  |
|     |clipping                          |Annex, in the context of|
|     |                                  |press release           |
|     |                                  |No.2010-2011/1555 of    |
|     |                                  |April 26, 2011          |
|6.   |If yes please provide details     |Not Applicable, in view |
|     |                                  |of the information      |
|     |                                  |provided in query No.5  |
|7.   |Any other information             | The query is not       |
|     |                                  |specific.               |
|8.   |File notings on movement of this  |Copy of the note is     |
|     |RTI petition and on every aspect  |enclosed.               |
|     |of this RTI Petition              |                        |

11.   In the Second Appeal, the CIC heard the respondent via  telephone  and the petitioner  through  video  conferencing.    As  directed  by  CIC,  the petitioner filed written submission.  The  CIC  directed  the  CPIO  of  the Petitioner to provide complete information in relation to queries 1 2 and  3 of the original application of the Respondent before 15.12.2011.

12.   In Transfer Case No. 96  of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005, reply  to  which  is tabulated hereunder:-

 

|Sl.  |Information Sought           |Reply                          |
|No.  |                             |                               |
|1.   |Before the Orissa High Court |The Information sought by you  |
|     |RBI has filed an affidavit   |is exempted under Section      |
|     |stating that the total mark  |8(1)(a) & (e) of RTI Act, which|
|     |to market losses on account  |state as under;                |
|     |of currency derivatives  is  |8(1) notwithstanding anything  |
|     |to the tune of more than Rs. |contained in this Act, there   |
|     |32,000 crores Please give    |shall be no obligation to give |
|     |bank wise  breakup of the MTM|any citizen                    |
|     |Losses                       |information disclosure of which|
|     |                             |would prejudicially affect the |
|     |                             |sovereignty  and integrity  of |
|     |                             |India the security strategic   |
|     |                             |scientific or economic         |
|     |                             |interests of the state,        |
|     |                             |relation with foreign State or |
|     |                             |lead to incitement of an       |
|     |                             |offence.                       |
|     |                             |(e) Information available to a |
|     |                             |person in his fiduciary        |
|     |                             |relationship unless the        |
|     |                             |competent authority is         |
|     |                             |satisfied that larger public   |
|     |                             |interest warrants the          |
|     |                             |disclosure of such information.|
|2.   |What is the latest figure    |Please refer to our response to|
|     |available with RBI of the    |1 above.                       |
|     |amount of losses suffered by |                               |
|     |Indian Business houses?      |                               |
|     |Please furnish the latest    |                               |
|     |figures bank wise  and       |                               |
|     |customer wise.               |                               |
|3.   |Whether the issue of         |We have no information in this |
|     |derivative losses to Indian  |matter.                        |
|     |exporters was discussed in   |                               |
|     |any of the meetings of       |                               |
|     |Governor/Deputy Governor or  |                               |
|     |senior official of the       |                               |
|     |Reserve Bank of India? If so |                               |
|     |please furnish the minutes of|                               |
|     |the meeting where the said   |                               |
|     |issue was discussed          |                               |
|4.   |Any other Action Taken       |We have no information in this |
|     |Reports by RBI in this       |matter.                        |
|     |regard.                      |                               |

13.   The CIC allowed the second appeal and directed the  CPIO  FED  of  the Petitioner to provide complete information in queries 1, 2, 9 and 10 of  the original application of the Respondent  before  05.01.2012.  The  CPIO,  FED complied with the order of the CIC in  so  far  queries  2,  9  and  10  are concerned. The RBI filed writ petition for quashing the order of CIC so  far as it directs to provide complete information as per record on query No.1.

14.   In Transfer Case No. 97  of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following information from the  CPIO  of  National  Bank  for  Agriculture  and  Rural Development under the Act of 2005, reply to which is tabulated hereunder:-

 

|Sl.  |Information Sought                     |Reply               |
|No.  |                                       |                    |
|1.   |The report made by NABARD regarding 86 |Please refer to your|
|     |N.P.A. Accounts for Rs. 3806.95 crore  |application dated 19|
|     |of Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank |April, 2011 seeking |
|     |Ltd. (if any information of my         |information under   |
|     |application is not available in your   |the RTI Act, 2005   |
|     |Office/Department/ Division/Branch,    |which was received  |
|     |transfer this application to the       |by us on 06th May,  |
|     |concerned Office/Department/           |2011. In this       |
|     |Division/Branch and convey me          |connection, we      |
|     |accordingly as per the provision of    |advise that the     |
|     |Section 6 (3) of Right to Information  |questions put forth |
|     |Act, 2005.                             |by you relate to the|
|     |                                       |observations made in|
|     |                                       |the Inspection      |
|     |                                       |Report of NABARD    |
|     |                                       |pertaining  to MSCB |
|     |                                       |which  are          |
|     |                                       |confidential in     |
|     |                                       |nature.  Since      |
|     |                                       |furnishing the      |
|     |                                       |information would   |
|     |                                       |impede the process  |
|     |                                       |of investigation or |
|     |                                       |apprehension or     |
|     |                                       |prosecution of      |
|     |                                       |offenders,          |
|     |                                       |disclosure of the   |
|     |                                       |same is exempted    |
|     |                                       |under Section       |
|     |                                       |8(1)(h) of the Act. |

15.   In Transfer Case No. 98  of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005, reply  to  which  is tabulated hereunder:-

|Sl.  |Information Sought                    |Reply                |
|No.  |                                      |                     |
|1.   |What contraventions and violations    |The bank was         |
|     |were made by SCB in respect of RBI    |penalized along with |
|     |instructions on derivatives for which |18 other banks for   |
|     |RBI has imposed penalty of INR 10     |contravention of     |
|     |lakhs on SCB in exercise of its powers|various instructions |
|     |vested under Section 47(1)(b) of      |issued by the Reserve|
|     |Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and as   |Bank of India in     |
|     |stated in the RBI press release dated |respect of           |
|     |April 26, 2011 issued by Department of|derivatives, such as,|
|     |Communications RBI                    |failure to carry out |
|     |                                      |due diligence in     |
|     |                                      |regard to suitability|
|     |                                      |of products, selling |
|     |                                      |derivative products  |
|     |                                      |to users not having  |
|     |                                      |risk management      |
|     |                                      |policies and not     |
|     |                                      |verifying the        |
|     |                                      |underlying/adequacy  |
|     |                                      |of underlying and    |
|     |                                      |eligible limits under|
|     |                                      |past performance     |
|     |                                      |route. The           |
|     |                                      |information is also  |
|     |                                      |available on our     |
|     |                                      |website under press  |
|     |                                      |releases.            |
|2.   |Please provide us the copies/details  |Complaints are       |
|     |of all the complaints filed with RBI  |received by Reserve  |
|     |against SCB, accusing SCB of          |Bank of India and as |
|     |mis-selling derivative  products,     |they constitute the  |
|     |failure to carry out due diligence in |third party          |
|     |regard to suitability of products, not|information, the     |
|     |verifying the underlying/adequacy of  |information requested|
|     |underlying and eligible limits under  |by you cannot be     |
|     |past performance  and various other   |disclosed in terms of|
|     |non-compliance of RBI instruction on  |Section 8(1)(d) of   |
|     |derivatives.                          |the RTI Act, 2005.   |
|     |Also, please provide the above        |                     |
|     |information in the following format   |                     |
|     |.  Date of the complaint              |                     |
|     |Name of the complaint                 |                     |
|     |Subject matter of the complaint       |                     |
|     |Brief description of the facts and    |                     |
|     |accusations made by the complaint.    |                     |
|     |Any other information available with  |                     |
|     |RBI with respect to                   |                     |
|     |violation/contraventions by SCB of RBI|                     |
|     |instructions on derivatives.          |                     |
|3.   |Please provide us the copies of all   |The action has been  |
|     |the written replies/correspondences   |taken against the    |
|     |made by SCB with RBI and the          |bank based on the    |
|     |recordings of all the oral submissions|findings of the      |
|     |made by SCB to defend and explain the |Annual Financial     |
|     |violations/contraventions made by SCB |Inspection (AFI) of  |
|     |                                      |the bank which is    |
|     |                                      |conducted under the  |
|     |                                      |provisions of Sec.35 |
|     |                                      |of the BR Act, 1949. |
|     |                                      |The findings of the  |
|     |                                      |inspection are       |
|     |                                      |confidential in      |
|     |                                      |nature intended      |
|     |                                      |specifically for the |
|     |                                      |supervised entities  |
|     |                                      |and for corrective   |
|     |                                      |action by them.  The |
|     |                                      |information is       |
|     |                                      |received by us in    |
|     |                                      |fiduciary capacity   |
|     |                                      |disclosure of which  |
|     |                                      |may prejudicially    |
|     |                                      |affect the economic  |
|     |                                      |interest of the      |
|     |                                      |state.               |
|     |                                      |As such the          |
|     |                                      |information cannot be|
|     |                                      |disclosed in terms of|
|     |                                      |Section 8(1) (a) and |
|     |                                      |(e) of the RTI Act,  |
|     |                                      |2005                 |
|4.   |Please provide us the details/copies  |-do-                 |
|     |of the findings recordings, enquiry   |                     |
|     |reports, directive orders file notings|                     |
|     |and/or any information on the         |                     |
|     |investigations conducted by RBI       |                     |
|     |against SCB in respect of             |                     |
|     |non-compliance by SCB thereby         |                     |
|     |establishing violations by SCBV in    |                     |
|     |respect of non compliances of RBI     |                     |
|     |instructions on derivatives.          |                     |
|     |Please also provide the above         |                     |
|     |information in the following format.  |                     |
|     |. Brief violations/contraventions made|                     |
|     |by SCB                                |                     |
|     |. In brief SCB                        |                     |
|     |replies/defense/explanation against   |                     |
|     |each violations/contraventions made by|                     |
|     |it under the show cause notice.       |                     |
|     |.  RBI  investigations/notes/on the   |                     |
|     |SCB                                   |                     |
|     |Replies/defense/explanations for each |                     |
|     |of the violation/contravention made by|                     |
|     |SCB.                                  |                     |
|     |.   RBI remarks/findings with regard  |                     |
|     |to the violations/contraventions made |                     |
|     |by SCB.                               |                     |

16.   In Transfer Case No. 99  of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following
information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005, reply  to  which  is tabulated hereunder:-

 

|Sl.  |Information Sought                   |Reply                |
|No.  |                                     |                     |
|1.   |That, what action has the department |Enquiry was carried  |
|     |taken against scams/financial        |out against          |
|     |irregularities of United Mercantile  |scams/financial      |
|     |Cooperative Bank Ltd as mentioned in |irregularities of    |
|     |the enclosed published news. Provide |United Mercantile    |
|     |day to day progress report of the    |Cooperative Bank Ltd.|
|     |action taken.                        |as mentioned in the  |
|     |                                     |enclosed published   |
|     |                                     |news.                |
|     |                                     |Note/explanation has |
|     |                                     |been called for from |
|     |                                     |the bank vide our    |
|     |                                     |letter dated 8th     |
|     |                                     |July, 2011 regarding |
|     |                                     |errors mentioned in  |
|     |                                     |enquiry report.      |
|     |                                     |The other information|
|     |                                     |asked here is based  |
|     |                                     |on the conclusions of|
|     |                                     |Inspection Report.   |
|     |                                     |We would like to     |
|     |                                     |state that           |
|     |                                     |conclusions found    |
|     |                                     |during inspections   |
|     |                                     |are confidential and |
|     |                                     |the reports are      |
|     |                                     |finalized on the     |
|     |                                     |basis of information |
|     |                                     |received from banks. |
|     |                                     |We received the      |
|     |                                     |information from     |
|     |                                     |banks in a confident |
|     |                                     |capacity. Moreover,  |
|     |                                     |disclosure of such   |
|     |                                     |information may cause|
|     |                                     |damage to the banking|
|     |                                     |system and financial |
|     |                                     |interests of the     |
|     |                                     |state.   Disclosure  |
|     |                                     |of such type of      |
|     |                                     |information is       |
|     |                                     |exempted under       |
|     |                                     |Section 8(1)(a) and  |
|     |                                     |(e) of RTI Act, 2005.|
|2.   |That permission for opening how many |United Mercantile    |
|     |extension counters was obtained by   |Cooperative Bank Ltd.|
|     |United Mercantile Cooperative Bank   |was permitted to open|
|     |Ltd from RBI. Provide details of     |5, extension         |
|     |expenditure incurred for constructing|counters.            |
|     |the extension counters. Had the bank |The information      |
|     |followed tender system for these     |regarding expenditure|
|     |constructions, if yes, provide       |incurred on          |
|     |details of concerned tenders.        |construction of these|
|     |                                     |extension counters   |
|     |                                     |and tenders are not  |
|     |                                     |available with       |
|     |                                     |Reserve Bank of      |
|     |                                     |India.               |

 

17.   In Transfer Case No. 100 of  2015,  the  Respondent  sought  following information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005, reply  to  which  is tabulated hereunder:-

 

|Sl.  |Information Sought                    |Reply                |
|No.  |                                      |                     |
|1.   |Under which Grade The George Town     |The classification of|
|     |Co-operative Bank Ltd., Chennai, has  |banks into various   |
|     |been categorised as on 31.12.2006?    |grades are done on   |
|     |                                      |the basis of         |
|     |                                      |inspection findings  |
|     |                                      |which is based on    |
|     |                                      |information/         |
|     |                                      |documents obtained in|
|     |                                      |a fiduciary capacity |
|     |                                      |and cannot be        |
|     |                                      |disclosed to         |
|     |                                      |outsiders.  It is    |
|     |                                      |also exempted under  |
|     |                                      |Section 8(1)(e) of   |
|     |                                      |right to Information |
|     |                                      |Act, 2005.           |

 

18.   The Appellate Authority observed that the CPIO, UBD has  replied  that the classification of banks into various grades is  done  on  the  basis  of findings recorded in inspection which  are  based  on  information/documents obtained in a fiduciary capacity and cannot be disclosed to outsiders.   The CPIO, UBD has stated that the same is exempted under Section 8(1)(e) of  RTI Act. Apart from the  fact  that  information  sought  by  the  appellant  is sensitive and cannot be  disclosed,  it  could  also  harm  the  competitive position of the co-operative bank.  Therefore, exemption from disclosure  of the Information is available under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act.

19.   In Transfer Case No. 101 of  2015,  with  regard  to  Deendayal  Nagri Shakari  Bank  Ltd,  District  Beed,   the   Respondent   sought   following information from the CPIO of RBI under the Act of 2005, reply  to  which  is tabulated hereunder:-

 

|Sl.   |Information Sought                   |Reply                |
|No.   |                                     |                     |
|1.    |Copies of complaints received by RBI |Disclosure of        |
|      |against illegal working of the said  |information regarding|
|      |bank, including violations of the    |complaints received  |
|      |Standing Orders of RBI as well as the|from third parties   |
|      |provisions under Section 295 of the  |would harm the       |
|      |Companies Act, 1956.                 |competitive position |
|      |                                     |of a third party.    |
|      |                                     |Further such         |
|      |                                     |information is       |
|      |                                     |maintained in a      |
|      |                                     |fiduciary capacity   |
|      |                                     |and is exempted from |
|      |                                     |disclosure under     |
|      |                                     |Sections 8(1)(d) and |
|      |                                     |(e) of the RTI Act.  |
|2.    |Action initiated by RBI against the  |(a) A penalty of Rs. |
|      |said bank, including all             |1 lakh was imposed on|
|      |correspondence between RBI and the   |Deendayal Nagri      |
|      |said bank officials.                 |Sahakari Bank Ltd.   |
|      |                                     |for violation of     |
|      |                                     |directives on loans  |
|      |                                     |to directors/their   |
|      |                                     |relatives/concerns in|
|      |                                     |which they are       |
|      |                                     |interested. The bank |
|      |                                     |paid the penalty on  |
|      |                                     |08.10.2010.          |
|      |                                     |(b) As regards       |
|      |                                     |correspondence       |
|      |                                     |between RBI and the, |
|      |                                     |co-operative bank, it|
|      |                                     |is advised that such |
|      |                                     |information is       |
|      |                                     |maintained by RBI in |
|      |                                     |fiduciary capacity   |
|      |                                     |and  hence cannot be |
|      |                                     |given to outsiders.  |
|      |                                     |Moreover disclosure  |
|      |                                     |of such information  |
|      |                                     |may harm the interest|
|      |                                     |of the bank and      |
|      |                                     |banking system. Such |
|      |                                     |information is exempt|
|      |                                     |from disclosure under|
|      |                                     |Section 8(1)(a) and  |
|      |                                     |(e) of the RTI Act.  |
|3.    |Finding of the enquiry made by RBI,  |Such information is  |
|      |actions proposed and taken against   |maintained by the    |
|      |the bank and its officials-official  |bank in a fiduciary  |
|      |notings, decisions, and final orders |capacity and is      |
|      |passed and issued.                   |obtained by RBI      |
|      |                                     |during the course of |
|      |                                     |inspection of the    |
|      |                                     |bank and hence cannot|
|      |                                     |be given to          |
|      |                                     |outsiders.  The      |
|      |                                     |disclosure of such   |
|      |                                     |information would    |
|      |                                     |harm the competitive |
|      |                                     |position of a third  |
|      |                                     |party.  Such         |
|      |                                     |information is,      |
|      |                                     |therefore, exempted  |
|      |                                     |from  disclosure     |
|      |                                     |under Section 8(1)(d)|
|      |                                     |and (e)  of the RTI  |
|      |                                     |Act.                 |
|      |                                     |As regards action    |
|      |                                     |taken against the    |
|      |                                     |bank, are reply at S.|
|      |                                     |No.2 (a) above.      |
|4.    |Confidential letters received by RBI |See reply at S. NO.2 |
|      |from the Executive Director of       |(a) above.           |
|      |Vaishnavi Hatcheries Pvt. Ltd.       |                     |
|      |complaining about the illegal working|                     |
|      |and pressure policies of the bank and|                     |
|      |its chairman for misusing the        |                     |
|      |authority of digital signature for   |                     |
|      |sanction of the backdated            |                     |
|      |resignations of the chairman of the  |                     |
|      |bank and few other directors of the  |                     |
|      |companies details of action taken by |                     |
|      |RBI on that.                         |                     |

 

20.   The First Appellate Authority observed that  the  CPIO  had  furnished the information available on queries 2 and 4. Further information sought  in queries 1 and 3 was exempted under Section 8(1)(a)(d) and  (e)  of  the  RTI Act.

21.   Various transfer petitions were, therefore, filed seeking transfer  of the writ petitions pending before  different  High  Courts.   On  30.5.2015, while allowing the  transfer  petitions  filed  by  Reserve  Bank  of  India seeking transfer of various writ petitions filed by it in  the  High  Courts of Delhi and Bombay, this Court passed the following orders:

“Notice is served  upon  the  substantial  number  of  respondents.  Learned counsel for the respondents have no objection if Writ Petition Nos. 8400  of 2011, 8605 of 2011, 8693 of 2011, 8583 of 2011, 32 of  2012,  685  of  2012, 263 of 2012 and 1976 of 2012 pending in the  High  Court  of  Delhi  at  New Delhi and Writ Petition (L) Nos. 2556 of 2011, 2798  of  2011  and  4897  of 2011 pending in the High Court of Bombay are transferred to this  Court  and be heard together. In the meanwhile, the steps may be taken  to  serve  upon the unserved respondents.

Accordingly, the transfer petitions are  allowed  and  the  above  mentioned writ petitions are withdrawn to this Court. The High Court of Delhi and  the High Court of Bombay are directed to remit the entire  record  of  the  said writ petitions to this Court within four weeks.”

22.   Mr. T.R.  Andhyarujina,  learned  senior  counsel  appearing  for  the petitioner-Reserve Bank of India, assailed the  impugned  orders  passed  by the Central Information Commissioner as illegal  and  without  jurisdiction. Learned Counsel referred various provisions of The  Reserve  Bank  of  India Act, 1934; The Banking Regulation  Act,  1949  and  The  Credit  Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005 and made the following submissions:-

The  Reserve  Bank  of  India  being  the  statutory  authority   has   been constituted under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934  for  the  purpose  of regulating and controlling the money supply in the country.   It  also  acts as statutory banker with the Government of India and State  Governments  and manages their public  debts.   In  addition,  it  regulates  and  supervises Commercial Banks and Cooperative Banks in the country.   The  RBI  exercises control over the volume of credit, the rate of interest chargeable  on  loan and advances and deposits in order to ensure the  economic  stability.   The RBI is also vested with the powers to  determine  “Banking  Policy”  in  the interest of banking system, monetary stability and sound economic growth.

The RBI in exercise of powers of powers conferred under Section  35  of  the Banking Regulation Act,  1949  conducts  inspection  of  the  banks  in  the country.

The RBI in its capacity as the regulator  and  supervisor  of  the  banking system of the country access to various information collected  and  kept  by the banks.  The inspecting team and the officers carry  out  inspections  of different banks and much of  the  information  accessed  by  the  inspecting officers of RBI would be confidential.  Referring Section 28 of the  Banking Regulation Act, it was submitted that the RBI in  the  public  interest  may publish the information obtained by it,  in  a  consolidated  form  but  not otherwise.

The role of RBI is to safeguard the economic and financial stability of  the country and it has large contingent of expert advisors relating  to  matters deciding the economy of the entire country and nobody  can  doubt  the  bona fide of  the  bank.   In  this  connection,  learned  counsel  referred  the decision of  this  Court  in  the  case  of  Peerless  General  Finance  and Investment Co. Limited and Another Vs. Reserve Bank of India,  1992  Vol.  2 SCC 343.

Referring the decision in the case of  B.  Suryanarayana  Vs.  N.  1453  The Kolluru Parvathi Co-Op. Bank  Ltd.,  1986  AIR  (AP)  244,  learned  counsel submitted that the Court will be highly chary to enter  into  and  interfere with the decision of Reserve Bank of India.  Learned Counsel  also  referred to the decision in the case of Peerless General Finance and  Investment  Co. Limited and Another Vs. Reserve Bank of India,  1992  Vol.  2  SCC  343  and contended that Courts are not to interfere with the  economic  policy  which is a function of the experts.

That  the  RBI  is  vested  with  the  responsibility  of   regulation   and supervision of the banking system.  As part of  its  supervisory  role,  RBI supervises and monitors the banks under  its  jurisdiction  through  on-site inspection conducted on annual basis under the statutory powers  derived  by it under section 35 of the Banking Regulation Act 1949, off-site returns  on key financial parameters and engaging banks in dialogue  through  periodical meetings.  RBI may take supervisory actions where warranted  for  violations of its guidelines/directives.  The supervisory actions would depend  on  the seriousness of  the  offence,  systemic  implications  and  may  range  from imposition of penalty, to issue of strictures or letters of warning.   While RBI recognizes and promotes enhanced transparency in  banks  disclosures  to the public, as transparency strengthens market discipline, a  bank  may  not be able to disclose all data  that  may  be  relevant  to  assess  its  risk profile, due to the inherent need to preserve confidentially in relation  to its customers.  In this light, while mandatory disclosures  include  certain prudential parameters such as capital  adequacy,  level  of  Non  Performing Assets etc., the  supervisors  themselves  may  not  disclose  all  or  some information obtained on-site  or  off-site.   In  some  countries,  wherever there are supervisory concerns, “prompt corrective  action”  programmes  are normally put  in  place,  which  may  or  may  not  be  publicly  disclosed. Circumspection in disclosures by the supervisors arises from  the  potential market reaction that  such  disclosure  might  trigger,  which  may  not  be desirable.  Thus, in any policy of transparency, there is a  need  to  build processes which ensure that  the  benefits  of  supervisory  disclosure  are appropriately weighed against the risk to stakeholders, such as depositors.

As per the RBI policy, the  reports  of  the  annual  financial  inspection, scrutiny of all banks/  financial  institutions  are  confidential  document cannot be disclosed. As a matter of fact, the annual  financial  inspection/scrutiny report reflect the supervisor’s critical assessment  of  banks  and financial institutions and their functions.  Disclosure  of  these  scrutiny and information would  create  misunderstanding/  misinterpretation  in  the minds of the public.  That  apart,  this  may  prove  significantly  counter productive.  Learned counsel submitted that the  disclosure  of  information sought for by the applicant would not serve the public interest as  it  will give adverse impact in public confidence  on  the  bank.  This  has  serious implication for financial stability which rests on public confidence.   This will also adversely affect the economic interest of the State and would  not serve the larger public interest.

23.   The specific stand of petitioner Reserve Bank of  India  is  that  the information sought for is exempted under Section 8(1)(a),  (d)  and  (e)  of the Right to Information Act, 2005.  As the regulator and supervisor of  the banking  system,  the  RBI  has  discretion  in  the  disclosure   of   such information in public interest.

24.   Mr. Andhyarujina, learned senior counsel, referred  various  decisions to the High Court and submitted that the  disclosure  of  information  would prejudicially affect the economic interest of the State.   Further,  if  the information sought for  is  sensitive  from  the  point  of  adverse  market reaction leading to systematic crisis for financial stability.

25.   Learned senior counsel put heavy reliance on the Full  Bench  decision of the Central Information Commissioner and  submitted  that  while  passing the  impugned  order,  the  Central  Information   Commissioner   completely overlooked the Full Bench decision and ignored the same.  According  to  the learned counsel, the Bench, which passed the impugned  order,  is  bound  to follow the Full Bench decision.  The Commission also erred in  holding  that the Full  Bench  decision  is  per  incuriam  as  the  Full  Bench  has  not considered the statutory provisions  of  Section  8  (2)  of  the  Right  to Information Act, 2005. http://evinayak.tumblr.com/ ; https://vinayak.wordpress.com/ ; http://fromvinayak.blogspot.com

26.   Learned senior counsel also submitted that  the  Commission  erred  in holding that even if the information sought for is  exempted  under  Section 8(1) (a), (d) or (e) of the Right to Information Act, Section  8(2)  of  the RTI Act would mandate the disclosure of the information.

27.   Learned senior counsel further submitted that the  basic  question  of law is  whether  the  Right  to  Information  Act,  2005  overrides  various provisions  of  special  statutes  which  confer  confidentiality   in   the information obtained by the RBI.;  If the Respondents  are  right  in  their contention, these  statutory provisions of confidentiality  in  the  Banking Regulation Act, 1949, the Reserve Bank of India Act,  1934  and  the  Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005 would be repealed or  overruled by the Right to Information Act, 2005.

28.   Under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, the Reserve Bank of India  has a right to obtain information  from  the  banks  under  Section  27.   These information can only be in its discretion  published  in  such  consolidated form as RBI deems fit.  Likewise under Section 34A production  of  documents of confidential nature  cannot  be  compelled.   Under  sub-section  (5)  of Section 35, the Reserve Bank of India may carry out inspection of  any  bank but its report can only be disclosed if the Central  Government  orders  the publishing of the report of the  Reserve  Bank  of  India  when  it  appears necessary.

29.   Under Section 45E of the Reserve Bank of India Act,  1934,  disclosure of any information relating  to  credit  information  submitted  by  banking company is confidential and under Section  45E(3)  notwithstanding  anything contained in any law no court, tribunal or authority can compel the  Reserve Bank of India to give information relating to credit information etc.

30.   Under Section 17(4) of the Credit Information  Companies  (Regulation) Act, 2005, credit information received by  the  credit  information  company cannot  be  disclosed  to  any  person.   Under  Section  20,   the   credit information company has to adopt privacy principles  and  under  Section  22 there cannot be unauthorized access to credit information.

31.   It was further contended that the Credit  Information  Companies  Act, 2005 was brought into force after the Right to Information act, 2005  w.e.f. 14.12.2006.   It  is  significant  to  note  that  Section  28  of   Banking Regulation Act,  1949  was  amended  by  the  Credit  Information  Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005.  This is  a  clear  indication  that  the  Right  to Information Act, 2005 cannot  override  credit  information  sought  by  any person in contradiction to the statutory provisions for confidentiality.

32.   This is in addition  to  other  statutory  provisions  of  privacy  in Section 44 of State Bank of India Act,  1955,  Section  52,  State  Bank  of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, Section  13  of  the  Banking  Companies (Acquisition & Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970.

33.   The Right to Information  Act,  2005  is  a  general  provision  which cannot override specific provisions relating to confidentiality  in  earlier legislation in accordance with the principle that where  there  are  general words in a later statute it cannot be held that  the  earlier  statutes  are repealed altered or discarded.

34.   Learned counsel submitted that Section 22 of the Right to  Information Act, 2005 cannot  have  the  effect  of  nullifying  and  repealing  earlier statutes in relation to confidentiality.  This  has  been  well  settled  by this Court in

a)    Raghunath vs. state of Karnataka 1992(1) SCC 335 at  p.348  pages  112 and 114

b)    ICICI Bank vs. SIDCO Leather etc., 2006(10) SCC 452 at p.  466,  paras 36 & 37

c)    Central Bank vs. Kerala, 2009 (4) SCC 94 at p. 132-133 para 104

d)    AG Varadharajalu vs. Tamil Nadu, 1998 (4) SCC 231 at p. 236 para 16.

Hence, the Right to Information Act, 2005  cannot  override  the  provisions for confidentiality conferred on the RBI by the  earlier  statutes  referred to above.

35.   The Preamble of the RTI Act, 2005  itself  recognizes  the  fact  that since the revealing of certain information is likely to conflict with  other public interests like “the  preservation  of  confidentiality  of  sensitive information”, there is a need to harmonise these conflicting interests.   It is submitted that certain exemptions were carved  out  in  the  RTI  Act  to harmonise these conflicting interests.   This  Court  in  Central  Board  of Secondary Education and Anr. vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and  Ors,  (2011)8  SCC 497, has observed as under:-

“When trying to ensure that the right to information does not conflict  with several other public interests (which includes efficient operations  of  the Governments,  preservation  of  confidentiality  of  sensitive  information, optimum  use  of  limited  fiscal  resources,  etc.),  it  is  difficult  to visualise and enumerate  all  types  of  information  which  require  to  be exempted from disclosure in public interest.  The  legislature  has  however made an attempt to do so. The enumeration of exemptions is  more  exhaustive than the enumeration of exemptions attempted in the earlier  Act,  that  is, Section  8  of  the  Freedom  to  Information  Act,  2002.  The  courts  and Information Commissions enforcing the provisions of  the  RTI  Act  have  to adopt  a  purposive  construction,  involving  a  reasonable  and   balanced approach which harmonises the two objects of  the  Act,  while  interpreting Section 8 and the other provisions of the Act.”

36.   Apart from the legal position that the Right to Information Act,  2005 does not override statutory provisions of confidentiality in other Act,  it is submitted  that in any case Section 8(1)(a) of the Right  to  Information Act, 2005  states that there is  no  obligation   to  give  any  information which  pre-judiciously  affects  the  economic  interests  of  the   States. Disclosure  of  such  vital  information  relating  to  banking  would  pre-judiciously affect the economic interests of the State.   This  was  clearly stated by the Full Bench of the Central Information Commission by its  Order in the case of Ravin  Ranchchodlal  Patel  (supra).  Despite  this  emphatic ruling individual Commissioners of the Information have  disregarded  it  by holding that the decision of the Full Bench was per  incurium  and  directed disclosure of information.

37.   Other exceptions in Section 8,  viz  8(1)(a)(d),  8(1)(e)  would  also apply to disclosure by the RBI and banks.  In sum,  learned  senior  counsel submitted that the RBI cannot be directed to disclose  information  relating to banking under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

38.   Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing  for  the  respondents in Transfer Case Nos.94 & 95 of 2015, began his arguments by  referring  the Preamble of the Constitution and submitted that   through  the  Constitution it  is  the  people  who  have  created  legislatures,  executives  and  the judiciary to exercise  such  duties  and  functions  as  laid  down  in  the constitution itself.

39.    The  right  to  information  regarding  the  functioning  of   public institutions is a fundamental right  as  enshrined  in  Article  19  of  the Constitution of India.  This Hon’ble Court has declared  in  a  plethora  of cases that the most important value for the functioning  of  a  healthy  and well informed democracy is transparency.  Mr. Bhushan referred  Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in the case of State of U.P.  vs.  Raj  Narain, AIR 1975 SC 865, and submitted that it  is   a  Government’s  responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the public must be responsible for  their conduct, there can be but few secrets.  The people of this  country  have  a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way,  by their functionaries.  The right to know, which is derived from  the  concept of freedom of speech, though not absolute, is a  factor  which  should  make one wary, when secrecy is claimed for transactions which can, at  any  rate, have no repercussion on public security. To cover with veil of secrecy,  the common routine business is not in the interest of public.

40.   In the case of S.P. Gupta v. President of India and Ors., AIR 1982  SC 149, a seven Judge Bench of  this  Court  made  the  following  observations regarding the right to information:-

“There is also in every democracy a certain amount of public  suspicion  and distrust of Government, varying of course from time  to  time  according  to its performance, which prompts people to insist  upon  maximum  exposure  of its functioning. It is axiomatic that every action of  the  Government  must be actuated by public interest but even so we find cases, though  not  many, where Governmental action is taken not for  public  good  but  for  personal gain or other extraneous considerations. Sometimes  Governmental  action  is influenced by political and other motivations and pressures  and  at  times, there are also instances of misuse or abuse of authority on the part of  the executive. Now, if secrecy  were  to  be  observed  in  the  functioning  of Government and the processes of Government  were  to  be  kept  hidden  from public  scrutiny,  it  would  tend  to  promote  and  encourage  oppression, corruption and misuse or abuse of authority, for it would  all  be  shrouded in the veil of secrecy without any public accountability. But  if  there  is an open Government with means of information available to the public,  there would be greater exposure of the functioning  of  Government  and  it  would help to assure the people a better and more efficient administration.  There can be little doubt that exposure to public gaze and scrutiny is one of  the surest means of achieving a clean and healthy administration.  It  has  been truly said that an open  Government  is  clean  Government  and  a  powerful safeguard   against   political   and    administrative    aberration    and inefficiency.”

41.   In the case of the Union  of  India  vs.  Association  for  Democratic Reforms, AIR  2002  SC  2112,  while  declaring  that  it  is  part  of  the fundamental right of citizens under Article 19(1)(a) to know the assets  and liabilities of candidates contesting  election  to  the  Parliament  or  the State Legislatures, a three Judge Bench of this  Court  held   unequivocally that:-  “The right to get information in  a  democracy  is  recognized   all throughout  and is a natural right flowing from  the  concept  of  democracy (Para 56).”  Thereafter, legislation was passed amending the  Representation of People Act, 1951 that candidates need not provide such information.  This Court in the case of PUCL vs. Union of India, (2003) 4 SCC 399, struck  down that legislation by stating: “It should be  properly  understood   that  the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution such as, right to  equality and freedoms have no fixed contents.  From time to  time,  this  Court  has filled in the skeleton with soul and blood and made it vibrant.   Since  the last more than 50 years, this Court has interpreted Articles 14, 19  and  21 and given meaning and colour so that the nation can have  a  truly  republic democratic society.”

42.   The RTI Act, 2005, as noted in its very preamble, does not create  any new right but only provides machinery to effectuate  the  fundamental  right to information.  The institution of the CIC and the SICs are  part  of  that machinery.  The preamble also inter-alia states  “…  democracy  requires  an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are  vital  to  its functioning and also to contain  corruption  and  to  hold  Governments  and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.”

43.   The submission of the RBI that exceptions be carved  out  of  the  RTI Act regime in order  to  accommodate  provisions  of  RBI  Act  and  Banking Regulation Act is clearly misconceived.  RTI  Act,  2005  contains  a  clear provision (Section 22) by virtue  of  which  it  overrides  all  other  Acts including Official Secrets  Act.   Thus,  notwithstanding  anything  to  the contrary contained in any other law like RBI Act or Banking Regulation  Act, the RTI Act, 2005 shall  prevail  insofar  as  transparency  and  access  to information is concerned. Moreover, the RTI Act 2005,  being  a  later  law, specifically brought in to usher  transparency  and  to  transform  the  way official  business  is  conducted,  would  have  to  override  all   earlier practices and laws in order to achieve its objective.  The  only  exceptions to  access  to  information   are   contained   in   RTI   Act   itself   in Section 8.

44.   In T.C.No.94 of 2015, the RTI applicant  Mr.  P.P.  Kapoor  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.  The  RBI  resisted  the disclosure of the information claiming exemption under Section 8(1) (a)  and 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act on  the  ground  that  disclosure  would  affect  the economic interest  of  the  country,  and  that  the  information  has  been received by the RBI from the banks in fiduciary  capacity.   The  CIC  found these arguments made by RBI to be totally misconceived in facts and in  law, and held that the disclosure would be in public interest.

45.   In T.C.No.95 of 2015, the RTI applicant therein  Mr.  Subhash  Chandra Agrawal had asked about the details of the  show  cause  notices  and  fines imposed by the RBI on various banks.  The RBI  resisted  the  disclosure  of the information claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(a),(d)  and  8(1)  (e) of the RTI Act on the ground  that  disclosure  would  affect  the  economic interest of the country, the competitive position of the banks and that  the information has been received  by  RBI  in  fiduciary  capacity.   The  CIC, herein also, found these arguments made by RBI to  be  totally  misconceived in facts and in law  and  held  that  the  disclosure  would  be  in  public interest.

46.    In  reply  to  the  submission  of  the  petitioner  about  fiduciary relationship, learned counsel submitted that the scope  of  Section  8(1)(e) of the RTI Act has been decided by this Court in Central Board of  Secondary Education  vs.  Aditya  Bandopadhyay,  (2011)  8  SCC  497,  wherein,  while rejecting the argument that  CBSE  acts  in  a  fiduciary  capacity  to  the students, it was held that:

“…In a philosophical and very wide sense, examining bodies can  be  said  to
act in a fiduciary capacity, with reference to students who  participate  in
an examination, as a Government does while governing its citizens or as  the
present generation does  with  reference  to  the  future  generation  while
preserving the environment.   But  the  word  ‘information  available  to  a
person in his fiduciary relationship’ are used in Section 8(1)  (e)  of  the
RTI Act in its normal and  well  recognized  sense,  that  is  to  refer  to
persons who  act  in  a  fiduciary  capacity,  with  reference  to  specific
beneficiary or beneficiaries who are to  be  expected  to  be  protected  or
benefited by the action of the fiduciary.”

47.    We  have  extensively  heard  all  the  counsels  appearing  for  the petitioner Banks and respondents and examined the law and the facts.

48.   While introducing the  Right  to  Information  Bill,  2004  a  serious debate and discussion took place.  The then Prime Minister while  addressing the House informed  that  the  RTI  Bill  is  to  provide  for  setting  out practical regime of right to information for people,  to  secure  access  to information under the control of public  authorities  in  order  to  promote transparency and accountability in the working of  every  public  authority. The new legislation would radically alter the ethos and culture  of  secrecy through ready sharing of information by the State and its agencies with  the people.  An era of transparency and accountability in governance is  on  the anvil.  Information, and more  appropriately  access  to  information  would empower and enable people  not  only  to  make  informed  choices  but  also participate effectively in decision making processes.   Tracing  the  origin of the idea of the then Prime Minister who  had  stated,  “Modern  societies are information societies.  Citizens tend to get interested  in  all  fields of life and demand information that is as comprehensive, accurate  and  fair as possible.”  In the Bill, reference has also been made to the decision  of the Supreme Court to the effect that Right to Information has been  held  as inherent in Article 19 of our  Constitution,  thereby,  elevating  it  to  a fundamental right of the citizen.  The  Bill,  which  sought  to  create  an effective mechanism for easy exercise of this Right, was held to  have  been properly titled as “Right to Information  Act”.   The  Bill  further  states that a citizen has  to  merely  make  a  request  to  the  concerned  Public Information Officer specifying the particulars of the information sought  by him.  He is not required to give any reason for seeking information, or  any other personal details except those necessary for contacting him.   Further, the Bill states:-

“The categories of information exempted from disclosure are a  bare  minimum
and are contained in clause 8 of the Bill.  Even these  exemptions  are  not
absolute and access can be allowed to them in public interest if  disclosure
of the information outweighs the  harm  to  the  public  authorities.   Such
disclosure has been permitted even if it is in conflict with the  provisions
of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.  Moreover, barring  two  categories  that
relate  to  information  disclosure  –  which  may  affect  sovereignty  and
integrity of India etc., or information relating to Cabinet papers  etc.-all
other categories of exempted information would  be  disclosed  after  twenty
years.

There is another aspect about which information is to be  made  public.   We
had a lengthy discussion and it  is  correctly  provided  in  the  amendment
under clause 8 of the Bill.  The following  information  shall  be  exempted
from  disclosure  which  would  prejudicially  affect  the  sovereignty  and
integrity of India; which has been expressly forbidden; which may result  in
a  breach  of  privileges  of  Parliament  or  the  Legislature;  and   also
information pertaining to defence matters.  They are listed in clause 8  (a)
to (g).  There are exceptions  to  this  clause.   Where  it  is  considered
necessary that the information will be  divulged  in  the  interest  of  the
State, that will be done.   There  must  be  transparency  in  public  life.
There must be transparency in administration and people must  have  a  right
to know what has actually transpired in the  secretariat  of  the  State  as
well as the Union Ministry.  A citizen will have a right because it will  be
safe to prevent corruption.  Many things are done behind the curtain.   Many
shoddy deals take place  in  the  secretariats  of  the  Central  and  State
Governments and the information will always be kept hidden.   Such  practice
should not be allowed  in  a  democratic  country  like  ours.   Ours  is  a
republic.  The citizenry should have a right to know what transpired in  the
secretariat.  Even Cabinet papers, after a decision has been taken, must  be
divulged as per the provisions of this amendment.  It cannot be hidden  from
the knowledge of others.”

49.   Addressing the House, it was pointed out by the  then  Prime  Minister that in our country, Government expenditure both at the Central and  at  the level of the States and local bodies, account for nearly 33%  of  our  Gross National Product.  At the same time, the socio-economic imperatives  require our Government to intervene extensively  in  economic  and  social  affairs. Therefore, the efficiency and effectiveness of the government processes  are critical variables, which will determine how our  Government  functions  and to what extent it is able to discharge the responsibilities  entrusted.   It was pointed out that there are widespread complaints in  our  country  about wastefulness  of  expenditure,  about  corruption,  and  matter  which  have relations with the functioning of the Government.  Therefore,  it  was  very important to explore new effective mechanism to ensure that  the  Government will purposefully and effectively discharge the  responsibilities  entrusted to it. http://evinayak.tumblr.com/ ; https://vinayak.wordpress.com/ ; http://fromvinayak.blogspot.com

50.   Finally the Right to Information Act  was  passed  by  the  Parliament called “The Right to Information Act, 2005”.  The Preamble states:-

“An Act to provide for setting out the practical regime  of  right  to
information for citizens to secure access to information under  the  control
of public authorities, in order to promote transparency  and  accountability
in the working of every public authority,  the  constitution  of  a  Central
Information Commission and State Information  Commissions  and  for  matters
connected therewith or incidental thereto.

WHEREAS  the  Constitution  of  India  has   established   democratic
Republic;

AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and  transparency
of information which are vital  to  its  functioning  and  also  to  contain
corruption and to hold Governments and their  instrumentalities  accountable
to the governed;

AND WHEREAS revelation of information in actual practice is likely  to
conflict with other public interests including efficient operations  of  the
Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources  and  the  preservation
of confidentiality of sensitive information;

AND WHEREAS it is necessary to harmonise  these  conflicting  interest
while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;

NOW, THEREFORE, it is expedient  to  provide  for  furnishing  certain
information to citizens who desire to have it.”

51.   Section 2 of the  Act  defines  various  authorities  and  the  words. Section 2(j) defines right to information as under :-

“2(j) “right to information”  means  the  right  to  information  accessible
under this Act which  is  held  by  or  under  the  control  of  any  public
authority and includes the right to-

inspection of work, documents, records;

taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;

taking certified samples of material;

obtaining information in the  form  of  diskettes,  floppies,  tapes,  video
cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through  printouts  where  such
information is stored in a computer or in any other device;”

52.   Section  3  provides  that  all  citizens  shall  have  the  right  to information subject to the provisions of  this  Act.   Section  4  makes  it obligatory on all public authorities  to  maintain  records  in  the  manner provided therein.  According to Section 6, a person who  desires  to  obtain any information under the Act shall make a request  in  writing  or  through electronic means in English or Hindi in the official language  of  the  area in  which  the  application   is  being  made  to  the  competent  authority specifying the particulars of  information  sought  by  him  or  her.   Sub-section (ii) of Section 6 provides that the  applicant  making  request  for information shall not be required to give  any  reason  for  requesting  the information  or  any  other  personal  details  except  those  that  may  be necessary for contacting  him.   Section  7  lays  down  the  procedure  for disposal of the request so made by the person under Section 6  of  the  Act. Section  8,  however,  provides  certain  exemption   from   disclosure   of information.  For better appreciation Section 8 is quoted hereinbelow:-

“8. Exemption from disclosure of information.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained  in  this  Act,  there  shall  be  no
obligation to give any citizen,—

(a) information,  disclosure  of  which  would  prejudicially   affect   the
sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic,  scientific  or
economic interests of the State, relation with  foreign  State  or  lead  to
incitement of an offence;

(b) information which has been expressly forbidden to be  published  by  any
court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute  contempt
of court;

(c) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach  of  privilege
of Parliament or the State Legislature;

(d) information  including   commercial   confidence,   trade   secrets   or
intellectual property, the disclosure of which would  harm  the  competitive
position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied  that
larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

(e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship,  unless
the competent  authority  is  satisfied  that  the  larger  public  interest
warrants the disclosure of such information;

(f) information received in confidence from foreign government;

(g) information,  the  disclosure  of  which  would  endanger  the  life  or
physical safety of any person or  identify  the  source  of  information  or
assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;

(h) information  which  would  impede  the  process  of   investigation   or
apprehension or prosecution of offenders;

(i) cabinet papers including records of  deliberations  of  the  Council  of
Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that  the  decisions  of
Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis  of
which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the  decision  has
been taken, and the matter is  complete,  or  over:  Provided  further  that
those matters which come under the  exemptions  specified  in  this  section
shall not be disclosed;

(j) information which relates to  personal  information  the  disclosure  of
which has not relationship to any public  activity  or  interest,  or  which
would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy  of  the  individual  unless
the Central Public Information  Officer  or  the  State  Public  Information
Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be,  is  satisfied  that
the larger public interest justifies the  disclosure  of  such  information:
Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the  Parliament  or
a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of  1923)
nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1),  a
public authority may allow access to  information,  if  public  interest  in
disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

(3) Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c)  and  (i)  of  sub-section
(1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter  which  has
taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which  any
request is made under section 6 shall be provided to  any  person  making  a
request under that section: Provided that where any question  arises  as  to
the date from which the said period of twenty years has to be computed,  the
decision of the Central Government shall be  final,  subject  to  the  usual
appeals provided for in this Act.”

53.   The information sought for by the  respondents  from  the  petitioner-Bank have been  denied  mainly  on  the  ground  that  such  information  is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a)(d) and (e) of the RTI Act.

54.   Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner-Bank mainly  relied  upon Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act taking the stand that  the  Reserve  Bank  of India having fiduciary relationship with the other banks and that  there  is no reason  to  disclose  such  information  as  no  larger  public  interest warrants such disclosure.  The primary question therefore, is,  whether  the Reserve Bank of India has rightly refused to  disclose  information  on  the ground of its fiduciary relationship with the banks.

55.   The  Advanced  Law  Lexicon,  3rd  Edition,  2005,  defines  fiduciary relationship as “a relationship in which one person is under a duty  to  act for the benefit of the  other  on  the  matters  within  the  scope  of  the fiduciary relationship. Fiduciary relationship usually arise in one  of  the four situations (1) when one person places trust in the  faithful  integrity of another, who as a result gains superiority or influence over  the  first, (2) when one person assumes control and  responsibility  over  another,  (3) when one person has a duty to act or  give  advice  to  another  on  matters falling within the scope of the relationship, or (4) when there is  specific relationship that has traditionally be  recognized  as  involving  fiduciary duties, as with a lawyer and a client, or a stockbroker and a customer.”

56.    The scope of the fiduciary relationship  consists  of  the  following rules:

“(i)  No Conflict rule- A fiduciary must not place  himself  in  a  position
where his  own  interests  conflicts  with  that  of  his  customer  or  the
beneficiary. There must be  “real sensible possibility of conflict.
(ii)  No profit rule- a fiduciary must not profit from his position  at  the
expense of his customer, the beneficiary;
(iii) Undivided loyalty rule- a fiduciary  owes  undivided  loyalty  to  the
beneficiary, not to place himself in a position where his duty  towards  one
person  conflicts  with  a  duty  that  he  owes  to  another  customer.   A
consequence of this duty is that  a  fiduciary  must  make  available  to  a
customer all the information that is relevant to the customer’s affairs
(iv)  Duty  of  confidentiality-  a  fiduciary  must  only  use  information
obtained in confidence and must not use it for his  own  advantage,  or  for
the benefit of another person.”

57.   The term fiduciary relationship has been well discussed by this  Court in the case of Central Board of Secondary  Education  and  Anr.  vs.  Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors. (supra).    In  the  said  decision,  their  Lordships referred various authorities to ascertain the meaning of the term  fiduciary relationship and observed thus:-

“20.1)  Black’s Law Dictionary (7th Edition, Page  640)  defines  ‘fiduciary
relationship’ thus:

“A relationship  in which one person is under a duty to act for the  benefit
of the other on matters within the  scope  of  the  relationship.  Fiduciary
relationships  –  such   as   trustee-beneficiary,   guardian-ward,   agent-
principal,  and  attorney-client  –  require  the  highest  duty  of   care.
Fiduciary relationships usually arise in one of four situations :  (1)  when
one person places trust in the faithful  integrity  of  another,  who  as  a
result gains superiority or influence over the first, (2)  when  one  person
assumes control and responsibility over another, (3) when one person  has  a
duty to act for or give advice to another  on  matters  falling  within  the
scope of the relationship, or (4) when  there  is  a  specific  relationship
that has traditionally been recognized as  involving  fiduciary  duties,  as
with a lawyer and a client or a stockbroker and a customer.”

20.2) The American Restatements (Trusts and Agency)  define  ‘fiduciary’
as one whose intention is to act for the  benefit  of  another  as  to  matters
relevant to the relation between them. The Corpus Juris Secundum
(Vol.  36A page  381) attempts to define fiduciary thus :

“A general definition of the word which  is  sufficiently  comprehensive  to
embrace all cases cannot well be given. The term is derived from the  civil,
or Roman, law. It connotes the idea of  trust  or  confidence,  contemplates
good faith, rather than legal obligation, as the basis of  the  transaction,
refers to the integrity, the fidelity, of the  party  trusted,  rather  than
his credit or ability, and has been held to apply to all persons who  occupy
a position of peculiar  confidence  toward  others,  and  to  include  those
informal relations which exist whenever  one  party  trusts  and  relies  on
another, as well as technical fiduciary relations.

The word ‘fiduciary,’ as a noun, means one who holds a thing  in  trust  for
another, a trustee, a person holding  the  character  of  a  trustee,  or  a
character analogous to that of a trustee, with  respect  to  the  trust  and
confidence involved in it and the scrupulous good faith and candor which  it
requires; a person having the duty,  created  by  his  undertaking,  to  act
primarily for another’s benefit in matters connected with such  undertaking.
Also more  specifically,  in  a  statute,  a  guardian,  trustee,  executor,
administrator, receiver, conservator, or any person acting in any  fiduciary
capacity for any person,  trust,  or  estate.  Some  examples  of  what,  in
particular connections, the term  has  been  held  to  include  and  not  to
include are set out in the note.”

20.3) Words and Phrases, Permanent  Edition  (Vol.  16A,  Page  41)
defines ‘fiducial relation’ thus :

“There is a technical distinction between a  ‘fiducial  relation’  which  is
more correctly applicable to legal relationships between  parties,  such  as
guardian  and   ward,   administrator   and   heirs,   and   other   similar
relationships,  and  ‘confidential  relation’  which  includes   the   legal
relationships, and also  every  other  relationship  wherein  confidence  is
rightly reposed and is exercised.

Generally, the term  ‘fiduciary’  applies  to  any  person  who  occupies  a
position of peculiar confidence towards another. It refers to integrity  and
fidelity. It contemplates fair dealing and good  faith,  rather  than  legal
obligation, as the  basis  of  the  transaction.  The  term  includes  those
informal relations which exist whenever one party  trusts  and  relies  upon
another, as well as technical fiduciary relations.”

20.4) In Bristol and West Building Society vs. Mothew [1998 Ch. 1] the
term fiduciary was defined thus :

“A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to  act  for  and  on  behalf  of
another in a particular  matter  in  circumstances  which  give  rise  to  a
relationship of trust and confidence. The  distinguishing  obligation  of  a
fiduciary is the obligation of loyalty…..  A  fiduciary  must  act  in  good
faith; he must not make a profit  out  of  his  trust;  he  must  not  place
himself in a position where his duty and his interest may conflict;  he  may
not act for his own benefit or the benefit of a  third  person  without  the
informed consent of his principal.”

20.5) In Wolf vs. Superior Court [2003 (107)  California  Appeals,  4th  25]
the California Court of Appeals defined fiduciary relationship as under :

“any relationship existing between the parties to the transaction where  one
of the parties is duty bound to act with utmost good faith for  the  benefit
of the other party. Such a relationship ordinarily arises  where  confidence
is reposed by one person  in  the  integrity  of  another,  and  in  such  a
relation the party in whom the confidence  is  reposed,  if  he  voluntarily
accepts or assumes to accept the confidence, can take no advantage from  his
acts relating to the interests of  the  other  party  without  the  latter’s
knowledge and consent.”

21. The term ‘fiduciary’ refers to a person having a duty  to  act  for
the benefit of another, showing good faith and condour, where such other
person reposes trust and special confidence in the person owing or
discharging  the duty. The term ‘fiduciary relationship’ is used to
describe a  situation  or transaction where one person (beneficiary)
places  complete  confidence  in another  person  (fiduciary)  in
regard  to  his   affairs,   business   or transaction/s. The term also
refers to a person who holds a thing  in  trust for another
(beneficiary). The fiduciary is expected to  act  in  confidence and for
the benefit and advantage of the beneficiary,  and  use  good  faith and
fairness in dealing with the beneficiary or the things belonging to  the
beneficiary. If the beneficiary has entrusted anything to the fiduciary,
to hold the thing in trust or to execute certain acts  in  regard  to
or  with reference to the entrusted thing,  the fiduciary has to  act
in  confidence and expected not to disclose the thing or information to
any  third  party. There are also certain relationships where both the
parties have to  act  in a fiduciary capacity treating the other  as
the  beneficiary.  Examples  of these are : a partner vis-à-vis another
partner and  an  employer  vis-à-vis employee. An employee  who  comes
into  possession  of  business  or  trade secrets or confidential
information relating to the employer in  the  course of his employment,
is expected to act as a fiduciary and cannot disclose  it to others.
Similarly,  if  on  the  request  of  the  employer  or  official
superior or the head of a department, an  employee  furnishes  his
personal details and information, to be retained in  confidence,  the
employer,  the official superior or departmental head is expected  to
hold  such  personal information in confidence as a fiduciary, to be
made  use  of  or  disclosed only if the employee’s conduct or acts are
found to be  prejudicial  to  the employer.”

58.   In the instant case, the RBI does not  place  itself  in  a  fiduciary relationship with the  Financial  institutions  (though,  in  word  it  puts itself to be in that position) because,  the  reports  of  the  inspections, statements of the bank, information related to the business obtained by  the RBI are not under the pretext of confidence or trust. In this  case  neither the RBI nor the Banks act in the interest of each other.   By  attaching  an additional  “fiduciary”  label  to  the  statutory  duty,   the   Regulatory authorities have intentionally or unintentionally  created  an  in  terrorem effect.

59.   RBI is a statutory body set up by  the  RBI  Act  as  India’s  Central Bank.  It is a statutory regulatory authority to oversee the functioning  of the banks and the country’s  banking  sector.   Under  Section  35A  of  the Banking Regulation Act, RBI has been given powers to issue any direction  to the banks in public interest, in the  interest  of  banking  policy  and  to secure proper management of a banking company.  It has  several  other  far-reaching statutory powers.

60.   RBI is supposed to uphold public interest  and  not  the  interest  of individual banks.  RBI is clearly not in  any  fiduciary  relationship  with any bank.  RBI has no legal duty to  maximize  the  benefit  of  any  public sector or private sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of  ‘trust’ between them.  RBI has a statutory  duty  to  uphold  the  interest  of  the public at large, the depositors,  the  country’s  economy  and  the  banking sector.  Thus, RBI ought to act with transparency and not  hide  information that might embarrass individual banks.  It is duty bound to comply with  the provisions of the RTI  Act  and  disclose  the  information  sought  by  the respondents herein.

61.   The  baseless  and  unsubstantiated  argument  of  the  RBI  that  the disclosure would hurt the  economic  interest  of  the  country  is  totally misconceived. In the impugned order, the CIC has given  several  reasons  to state why the disclosure of the information sought by the respondents  would hugely serve public interest,  and  non-disclosure  would  be  significantly detrimental to public interest and not in the economic  interest  of  India. RBI’s argument that if people, who are sovereign,  are  made  aware  of  the irregularities being committed by the  banks  then  the  country’s  economic security  would  be  endangered,  is  not  only  absurd   but   is   equally misconceived and baseless.

62.  The exemption contained  in  Section  8(1)(e)  applies  to  exceptional cases and only with regard to  certain  pieces  of  information,  for  which disclosure is unwarranted or undesirable. If information is  available  with a regulatory agency not in fiduciary relationship, there  is  no  reason  to withhold the disclosure of the same. However, where information is  required by mandate of law to be provided to an authority, it  cannot  be  said  that such information is being provided in a fiduciary relationship.  As  in  the instant case, the Financial institutions have an obligation to  provide  all the information  to  the  RBI  and  such  an  information  shared  under  an obligation/ duty cannot be considered to come under  the  purview  of  being shared in fiduciary relationship.  One  of  the  main  characteristic  of  a Fiduciary relationship is “Trust and Confidence”.  Something  that  RBI  and the Banks lack between them.

63.   In the present case, we have to weigh between the public interest  and fiduciary relationship (which is  being  shared  between  the  RBI  and  the Banks). Since, RTI Act is enacted to empower the common people, the test  to determine limits of Section 8 of RTI Act is whether  giving  information  to the general public would be detrimental to the  economic  interests  of  the country? To what extent the public should be allowed to get information?

64.   In the context of above questions, it  had  long  since  come  to  our attention that the Public Information Officers (PIO) under the guise of  one of the exceptions given under Section 8 of RTI Act, have evaded the  general public from getting their hands on the rightful information  that  they  are entitled to.

65.   And in this case the RBI and the Banks have  sidestepped  the  General public’s demand  to  give  the  requisite  information  on  the  pretext  of “Fiduciary relationship” and “Economic Interest”. This attitude of  the  RBI will only attract more suspicion and disbelief in them. RBI as a  regulatory authority should work to make the Banks accountable to their actions.

66.   Furthermore, the RTI Act under Section 2(f) 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. Section 2(f), reads thus:

“information” means any material in any form, including records,  documents,
memos,  e-mails,  opinions,  advices,  press  releases,  circulars,  orders,
logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models,  data  material  held
in any electronic form and information relating to any  private  body  which
can be accessed by a public authority under  any  other  law  for  the  time
being in force;

67.   From reading of  the  above  section  it  can  be  inferred  that  the Legislature’s intent was to  make  available  to  the  general  public  such information which had been obtained  by  the  public  authorities  from  the private body. Had it been the case where only information related to  public authorities was to be provided, the Legislature would not have included  the word “private body”.  As  in  this  case,  the  RBI  is  liable  to  provide information regarding inspection report and other documents to  the  general public.

68.   Even if we were to consider that RBI and  the  Financial  Institutions shared a  “Fiduciary  Relationship”,  Section  2(f)  would  still  make  the information shared between them to be accessible by the  public.  The  facts reveal that Banks are trying to cover up their underhand actions,  they  are even more liable to be subjected to public scrutiny.

69.   We have surmised that many Financial  Institutions  have  resorted  to such acts which are neither clean nor transparent. The  RBI  in  association with them has been trying to cover up their acts from public  scrutiny.   It is the responsibility of the RBI to take rigid action  against  those  Banks which have been practicing disreputable business practices.

70.   From the past we have also come across  financial  institutions  which have tried to defraud the  public.  These  acts  are  neither  in  the  best interests of the Country nor in the interests of citizens. To our  surprise, the RBI as a Watch Dog should have been more  dedicated  towards  disclosing information to the general public under the Right to Information Act.

71.   We also understand that the RBI cannot be put in a fix, by  making  it accountable to every action taken by it. However, in the  instant  case  the RBI is accountable and  as  such  it  has  to  provide  information  to  the information seekers under Section 10(1) of  the  RTI  Act,  which  reads  as under:

“Section 10(1)  Severability —Where a request for access to  information  is
rejected on the ground that it  is  in  relation  to  information  which  is
exempt from disclosure, then, notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  this
Act, access may be provided to that  part  of  the  record  which  does  not
contain any information which is exempt from disclosure under this  Act  and
which  can  reasonably  be  severed  from  any  part  that  contains  exempt
information.”

72.   It was also contended by learned  senior  counsel  for  the  RBI  that disclosure of information sought for  will  also  go  against  the  economic interest of the nation.  The submission is wholly misconceived.

73.   Economic interest of a nation in most common parlance  are  the  goals which a nation wants to attain to fulfil its  national  objectives.   It  is the part of our national interest, meaning thereby national  interest  can’t be seen with the spectacles(glasses) devoid of economic interest.

74.   It includes in its ambit a wide  range  of  economic  transactions  or economic activities necessary and  beneficial  to  attain  the  goals  of  a nation, which definitely includes as an objective  economic  empowerment  of its citizens.  It has been recognized and understood without any  doubt  now that one of the tool to attain this goal is to  make  information  available to people.  Because an informed citizen has the capacity to reasoned  action and also to evaluate the actions of the legislature  and  executives,  which is very important in a participative  democracy  and  this  will  serve  the nation’s interest better which as stated above also  includes  its  economic interests. Recognizing the significance of this tool it has  not  only  been made one of the fundamental rights under Article 19 of the Constitution  but also a Central Act has been brought into effect on 12th October 2005 as  the Right to Information Act, 2005.

75.   The ideal of ‘Government  by  the  people’  makes  it  necessary  that people have access to information on matters of public  concern.   The  free flow of information about affairs of Government  paves  way  for  debate  in public policy and  fosters  accountability  in  Government.   It  creates  a condition for ‘open governance’ which is a foundation of democracy.

76.   But neither the Fundamental Rights nor the Right to  Information  have been provided in absolute terms. The  fundamental  rights  guaranteed  under Article 19 Clause 1(a) are restricted under  Article  19  clause  2  on  the grounds of national and societal interest. Similarly Section 8, clause 1  of Right to Information Act, 2005,  contains  the  exemption  provisions  where right to information can be  denied  to  public  in  the  name  of  national security  and  sovereignty,  national  economic  interests,  relations  with foreign states etc.  Thus, not  all  the  information  that  the  Government generates will or shall be given out to the public. It  is  true  that  gone are the days of closed doors policy making and they are not acceptable  also but it is equally true that there are some information  which  if  published or released publicly, they might actually cause more harm than good  to  our national interest… if not domestically it can make  the  national  interests vulnerable internationally and it is more  so  possible  with  the  dividing line between national and international boundaries getting blurred  in  this age of rapid advancement of science and technology and global  economy.   It has to be understood that rights can be enjoyed without any inhibition  only when they are nurtured within protective boundaries.  Any excessive  use  of these rights which may lead to tampering these boundaries will  not  further the national interest.  And when it comes  to  national  economic  interest, disclosure of information about currency or exchange rates, interest  rates, taxes, the  regulation  or  supervision  of  banking,  insurance  and  other financial institutions, proposals for expenditure or borrowing  and  foreign investment could in some cases harm the national  economy,  particularly  if released  prematurely.   However,  lower  level   economic   and   financial information, like contracts and departmental budgets should not be  withheld under this exemption.  This makes it necessary to  think  when  or  at  what stage an information is  to  be  provided  i.e.,  the  appropriate  time  of providing the information which will depend on nature of information  sought for and the consequences it will lead to after coming in public domain. http://evinayak.tumblr.com/ ; https://vinayak.wordpress.com/ ; http://fromvinayak.blogspot.com

77.   In  one  of  the  case,  the  respondent  S.S.  Vohra  sought  certain information in relation to the Patna  Branch  of  ICICI  Bank  and  advisory issued to the Hong Kong  Branch  of  ICICI  Bank.   The  contention  of  the respondent was that the Finance Minister had made  a  written  statement  on the floor of the House on 24.07.2009 that some banks like SBI,  ICICI,  Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank etc., were violating FEMA  Guidelines  for  opening  of accounts and categorically mentioned that the Patna  Branch  of  ICICI  Bank Ltd. had opened some fictitious accounts which  were  opened  by  fraudsters and hence an advisory note was issued to the concerned  branch  on  December 2007 for its irregularities.  The Finance Minister even  mentioned  that  in the year 2008 the ICICI Bank Ltd. was  also  warned  for  alleged  irregular dealings in securities in Hong Kong.   Hence,  the  respondent  sought  such advisory note as issued by the RBI to ICICI Bank.  The  Central  Information Commissioner in the impugned order considered the RBI Master Circular  dated 01.07.2009 to  all  the  commercial  banks  giving  various  directions  and finally held as under :-

“It has been contended by the Counsel on  behalf  of  the  ICICI  Bank
Limited that an advisory note is prepared after reliance on  documents  such
as Inspection Reports, Scrutiny reports etc. and  hence,  will  contain  the
contents of those documents too which are otherwise exempt from  disclosure.
We have already expressed our view in express terms that whether or not  an
Advisory Note shall  be  disclosed  under  the  RTI  Act  will  have  to  be
determined on case by case basis.  In some other case,  for  example,  there
may be a situation where some contents of the Advisory Note may have  to  be
severed to such an extent that details of Inspection  Reports  etc.  can  be
separated from the Note and then be provided to the RTI Applicant.   Section
10 of the RTI Act leaves it open to decide each case  on  its  merits  after
having satisfied ourselves whether an Advisory Note needs to be provided  as
it is or whether some of its contents may  be  severed  since  they  may  be
exempted per se under the RTI Act.  However, we find no reason,  whatsoever,
to apply Section 10 of the RTI Act in order to severe the  contents  of  the
Advisory Note issued by the RBI to the ICICI Bank Limited as the matter  has
already been placed on the floor of the Lok Sabha  by  the  Hon’ble  Finance
Minister.

This is a matter of concern since it involves the violation of  policy
Guidelines  initiated  by  the  RBI  and  affects  the  public   at   large.
Transparency cannot be brought overnight in any system and one can  hope  to
witness accountability in a  system  only  when  its  end  users  are  well-
educated, well-informed and well-aware.   If  the  customers  of  commercial
banks will  remain  oblivious  to  the  violations  of  RBI  Guidelines  and
standards which such banks  regularly  commit,  then  eventually  the  whole
financial system of the country would be at a  monumental  loss.   This  can
only be prevented by suo motu disclosure of such information as the  penalty
orders are already in public domain.”

78.   Similarly, in another case the respondent Jayantilal N. Mistry  sought information from the CPIO,  RBI  in  respect  of  a  Cooperative  Bank  viz. Saraspur Nagrik Sahkari Bank Limited related  to  inspection  report,  which was denied by the CPIO on the ground that the information contained  therein were received by RBI in a fiduciary capacity and are  exempt  under  Section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act.   The  CIC  directed  the  petitioner  to  furnish  that information since the RBI expressed their willingness to disclose a  summary of substantive part of the  inspection  report  to  the  respondent.   While disposing of the appeal the CIC observed:-

“Before parting with this appeal, we would like to record  our  observations
that  in  a  rapidly  unfolding  economics  scenario,   there   are   public
institutions, both in the banking and non-banking sector,  whose  activities
have not served public interest.  On the contrary,  some  such  institutions
may have attempted to defraud the public of  their  moneys  kept  with  such
institutions  in  trust.   RBI  being  the  Central  Bank  is  one  of   the
instrumentalities available to the public which as a regulator  can  inspect
such institutions and initiate remedial measures  where  necessary.   It  is
important that the general public, particularly, the share holders  and  the
depositors of such institutions are kept aware of  RBI’s  appraisal  of  the
functioning of  such  institutions  and  taken  into  confidence  about  the
remedial actions initiated in specific cases.  This will  serve  the  public
interest.  The RBI would therefore  be  well  advised  to  be  proactive  in
disclosing information to the public in general and the information  seekers
under the RTI Act, in particular.  The provisions of Section  10(1)  of  the
RTI Act can therefore be judiciously used when necessary to adhere  to  this
objective.”

79.   In another case, where the respondent P.P. Kapoor  sought  information inter alia about the details of default in loans taken  from  public  sector banks by industrialists, out of the list of defaulters, top 100  defaulters, names of the businessmen, firm  name,  principal  amount,  interest  amount, date of default and date of availing the loan  etc.   The  said  information was denied by the CPIO mainly on the basis that it  was  held  in  fiduciary capacity and was exempt from disclosure of such information.   Allowing  the appeal, the CIC directed for the disclosure of such  information.   The  CIC in the impugned order has rightly observed as under:-

“I wish  government  and  its  instrumentalities  would  remember  that  all
information held by them is owned by citizens, who are sovereign.   Further,
it is often seen that banks and financial institutions continue  to  provide
loans to industrialists despite their default in  repayment  of  an  earlier
loan.”  This Court in UP Financial Corporation vs. Gem Cap India Pvt.  Ltd.,
AIR 1993 SC 1435 has noted that :

“Promoting industrialization at the cost of public funds does not serve  the
public interest, it merely amounts to transferring public money  to  private
account’. Such practices have led citizens to believe  that  defaulters  can
get  away  and  play  fraud  on  public  funds.   There  is  no  doubt  that
information regarding top industrialists  who  have defaulted  in  repayment
of loans must be brought to  citizens’   knowledge;  there  is  certainly  a
larger public interest that  could be served on ….disclosure  of  the  same.
In fact, information about industrialists who are  loan  defaulters  of  the
country may put pressure on such persons to pay their dues. This would  have
the impact of alerting Citizens about those who are defaulting  in  payments
and could also have some impact in shaming them.

RBI had  by its Circular DBOD No. BC/CIS/47/20.16.002/94  dated  April  23,
1994 directed all banks to send a  report  on  their  defaulters,  which  it
would share with all banks and financial institutions,  with  the  following
objectives:

To alert banks and financial institutions (FIs) and to  put  them  on  guard
against borrowers who have defaulted in their dues to lending institutions;

To make public the names of the borrowers who  have  defaulted  and  against
whom suits have been filed by banks/ FIs.”

80.   At this juncture, we may refer the decision of this  Court  in  Mardia Chemicals Limited vs. Union of India, (2004) 4 SCC 311, wherein  this  court while considering  the  validity  of  SARFAESI  Act  and  recovery  of  non-performing assets by banks and financial institutions in India, held :-

“………….it may be observed that though the transaction may  have  a  character
of a private contract yet the  question  of  great  importance  behind  such
transactions as a whole having far reaching effect on  the  economy  of  the
country cannot be ignored, purely restricting it to individual  transactions
more  particularly  when  financing   is   through   banks   and   financial
institutions utilizing the money  of  the  people  in  general  namely,  the
depositors in the banks and public money at the disposal  of  the  financial
institutions. Therefore, wherever public interest to such a large extent  is
involved and it may become necessary to achieve an object which  serves  the
public purposes, individual rights may have to  give  way.  Public  interest
has always been considered to be above the private interest. Interest of  an
individual may,  to  some  extent,  be  affected  but  it  cannot  have  the
potential of taking over the public interest having an impact in the  socio-
economic drive of the country………..”

81.    In  rest  of  the  cases  the  CIC  has  considered  elaborately  the information sought for and passed orders which in our opinion do not  suffer from any error of law, irrationality or arbitrariness.

82.   We have, therefore, given our anxious consideration to the matter  and came to the conclusion that the Central Information Commissioner has  passed the impugned orders giving valid reasons and  the  said  orders,  therefore, need no interference by this Court.

83.   There is no merit in all these cases and hence they are dismissed.

(M.Y. Eqbal)  ……………J

(C. Nagappan )   ……………J

New Delhi

December 16, 2015

<SMALL>*****************************disclaimer**********************************
This judgment and other similar judgments posted on this blog was / were collected from Judis nic in website and / or other websites of Govt. of India or other internet web sites like worldlii or indiankanoon or High court websites. Some notes are made by Vinayak. Should you find the dictum in this judgment or the judgment itself repealed or amended or would like to make improvements or comments, please post a comment on the comment section of the blog and if you are reading this on tumblr please post responses as comments at vinayak.wordpress.com . Vinayak is NOT a lawyer and nothing in this blog and/or site and/or file should be considered as legal advise.
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CASE FROM JUDIS / INDIAN KANOON WEB SITE with necessary Emphasis, Re formatting
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