Bank transaction statement of a Welfare Association of which the appellant was Signatory to the Bank transaction Operation till 14.1.2011 was sought - PIO: third party did not respond to notice - CIC: Information is exempt u/s 8(1)(e) and (j) of RTI Act
1. The appellant, Shri R S Babu, submitted RTI application dated 8 April 2013 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), O/o the Hon’ble Finance Minister, New Delhi; seeking information regarding action taken on his application dated 14.5.2012 pertaining to transactions statement of the TNHB, Colony Residents Consumer Protection Awareness Welfare Association having account with the Union Bank of India, he also sought reasons for the delay in action on the contents of the said letter. He also raised a query as to whether it was proper on the part of Banking Ombudsman to deny information on the allegations made simply by citing technicalities.
2. Vide reply dated 3 June 2013, CPIO denied information on the ground that non availability of information sought for in BO. III Section and informed that since the subject matter of the information requested pertained to Union Bank of India (UBI), therefore , they forwarded a copy of the RTI application to them for appropriate action. Not satisfied by the CPIO’s reply, the appellant preferred an appeal dated 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. July 2013 to the first appellate authority (FAA) alleging that he had been wrongly denied the information. Vide order 23 August 2013, FAA recorded that the subject matter of the information/documents requested for pertained to the Union Bank of India. Since the requisite information was not held in BO.III Section, the FAA concurred with the reply of the CPIO. The CPIO, Union Bank of India vide letter dated 18.6.2013 denied the information by invoking the provisions of Section 2(f) “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; of the RTI Act. On appellant’s complaint dated 14.12.2011, the Chief Manager, Union Bank of India vide letter dated 21.02.2012 informed the appellant that the TNHB, Colony Residents Consumer Protection Awareness Welfare Association account was operated jointly by Shri B. Thirugnanam, President and Shri R.S. Babu, Gen. Secretary upto 14.1.2011 and that from 31.3.2011 the account was operated by the President, Secretary and Treasurer (any two will sign jointly) since Shri R.S. Babu had resigned from the post of General Secretary. The Office of the Banking Ombudsman, RBI, Chennai vide letter dated 26.4.2012 held that there was no deficiency in banking services and there was no further cause of action, accordingly, the appellant’s complaint was closed.
3. Dissatisfied with the response of the public authority i.e. UBI, the appellant preferred appeal before the Commission.
4. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant stated that the CPIO, Union Bank of India, Chennai denied the information and the Banking Ombudsman, RBI had agreed with the contention of the CPIO, Union Bank of India. The appellant stated that he sought bank transaction statement of the TNHB Colony, Residents, Consumer Protection Awareness Welfare Association, Chennai of which he was General Secretary & Signatory to the Bank transaction Operation till 14.1.2011. The respondents from the Union Bank of India, Chennai stated that the CPIO vide letter dated 18.6.2013, had already replied to the appellant. They have no information about the letter written to the Finance Minister. The appellant had sought third party information pertaining to transaction statement of TNHB Colony Residents Consumer Protection Awareness Welfare Association having account with the Union Bank of India, Chennai. As per Section 11 of the RTI Act they had sent written notice to the said Association, but no reply had been received from the Association.
5. The information as sought for by the appellant relating to bank transaction statement of the aforementioned Welfare Association cannot be provided to the appellant as it is exempt under the provisions of Section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, 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; and (j) of the RTI Act being third party information and held by the respondents in fiduciary capacity. The Commission accepts the submissions of the CPIO, Union Bank of India, Chennai. As far as appellant’s representation dated 14.5.2012 is concerned, it did not reach the BO.III Section of Department of Financial Services (DFS), hence no action was taken on the representation by the DFS. The Commission upholds the decision of CPIO, Union Bank of India, Chennai & Banking Ombudsman, Mumbai and CPIO/FAA, Department of Financial Services. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri R S Babu v. Department of Expenditure in Appeal: No. CIC/MP/A/2014/000006