SC places RBI under RTI, says it must uphold public interest
LANDMARK ORDER Apex Court slams central bank for protecting the interests of private banks
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) is under the purview of the overarching RTI Act and hence bound to divulge business details of all banks including the financial regulator’s audit reports and list of defaulters.
Expressing surprise that the RBI being a watchdog was resisting public scrutiny, the apex court said the regulatory body should enable every citizen to be “informed” and participate in the democratic process.
Rejecting a clutch of appeals by the RBI against various orders of the Central Information Commission ( CIC), a bench headed by justice MY Eqbal came down heavily on the regulator for protecting the interests of private banks and asked it to crack down on financial institutions indulging in “disreputable business practices”.
“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…,” the bench said.
The RBI had resisted efforts by several complainants to get details of defaulters including industrialists and sought exemption on the ground that disclosure would affect the economic interests of the country. The top bank had also said that it received such information from banks in a “fiduciary capacity”.
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