Is information about the bank frauds liable for disclosure?
Background of the case
The Appellant sought information about the details of the cases of fraud, embezzlement and losses in the bank. The PIO refused to disclose the information on the ground that it was exempt under Section 8(1) (d) being in the nature of commercial confidence. The First Appellate Authority endorsed the decision of the PIO.
View of CIC
During the hearing before CIC, the respondents submitted that the appellant had not asked information about specific time period and specific branch of the bank. Besides, they also argued that the disclosure of the information relating to cases of fraud and embezzlement would adversely affect the reputation of the bank and might impact its competitiveness in the market. The appellant submitted that since the bank was mandated to send reports about such cases to the RBI every year, it should be possible for the bank to provide him the desired information.
The Commission took a view that whatever information the bank may have centrally on the subject, possibly in the form of any report they might have sent to the RBI, should be disclosed. The Commission held that a claim for keeping cases of fraud and embezzlement under wraps to protect the reputation of the bank cannot be accepted as it flies in the face of practice of transparent methods which is expected of every public authority. Such cases cannot be classified as information in the nature of commercial confidence. The public has a right to know about such acts committed in the bank either by its own employees on their own or by others independently or in collusion. In fact, the disclosure of such information would alert everyone, both inside and outside of the bank, to be more watchful and prevent such acts in future. The PIO was directed to provide information to the appellant.
Citation: Shri H. Basavraj v. Canara Bank in file No.CIC/SM/A/2011/000020
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/5
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission