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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­

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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