The Reserve Bank of India has disclosed its inspection report of City Union Bank under the RTI Act, with the Supreme Court rejecting its opposition to making such reports public earlier.
The RBI provided the report to activist Subhash Agrawal nearly eight months after he had sought it under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
”At last Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released inspection report of a bank under the RTI Act vide its letter dated 22.08.2022, though very late after more than eight months of filing RTI application dated 13.08.2021. Even if section 11 of the RTI Act for seeking comments of the bank concerned was to be invoked, information must have been provided within 45 days of receipt of RTI application by RBI,” Agrawal said.
He said the RBI did not provide inspection reports of some other banks on the ground that the banks concerned had approached the Central Information Commission against the RBI notice issued to such banks under section 11 of the RTI Act, which seeks third party consent before making disclosure.
”Supreme Court order should be implemented in true spirit by RBI through putting inspection reports of all banks on its website under section 4(1)(b) (mandatory proactive disclosure clause) of RTI Act,” he said.
The Supreme Court on April 26, 2019 had made clear that the RBI was ”duty bound to furnish all information relating to inspection reports and other material” under the RTI Act except those which pertained to ”matters of national economic interest”.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M R Shah had taken strong note of the fact that the RBI acted in contravention of its December 16, 2015 judgement and issued a new disclosure policy on its website on April 12 after it had reserved the verdict on a batch of contempt pleas.
Under the new policy, the RBI had directed various departments not to disclose information that was specifically asked to be given by the earlier judgment of the top court.
Upholding a verdict by the Central Information Commission, the apex court in 2015 had held that the RBI should take rigid action against those banks and financial institutions which have been indulging in ”disreputable business practices” and said it cannot withhold information on defaulters and other issues covered under the RTI Act.
It had further clarified that the RBI cannot withhold information under the ”guise” of confidence or trust with financial institutions and is accountable to provide information sought by general public.
The RBI, in its defence, had said that it cannot disclose information as the annual inspection report of the bank contained ”fiduciary” information as defined under the transparency law.
Several petitions are pending in the Supreme Court seeking ”clarifications” on various aspects of its disclosure orders.
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