CIC: The Appellant has been provided the valuation report of his own property & cannot be provided the valuation report of the properties of third parties, even if they happen to be guarantors of the loan; Copies of the legal opinion cannot be provided
This matter, pertaining to an RTI application filed by the Appellant seeking information on five points regarding the loan account of M/s. Rajinder Paul and Vinod Kumar, came up today. The CPIO had denied most of the information under Section 8 (1) (j) and his reply was upheld by the FAA, who also claimed exemption from disclosure of information under Section 8 (1) (e).
2. The Appellant stated he was one of the three guarantors of the above loan. He alleged that while his property is sought to be sold by the bank to recover the loan, they have not taken similar action against the remaining guarantors. He sought the information in the above context and prayed for direction to the Respondents to provide the entire information sought by him.
3. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties and note that as one of the guarantors, the Appellant can get information relating to his own guarantee only. The information regarding the guarantee given by third parties cannot be provided to him and the bank has rightly denied it under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. Further, at point No.2, the Appellant has sought copies of the legal opinion/search reports obtained by the bank from time to time from their approved advocate at the time of sanction of various credit facilities/renewal of credit facilities to the above firm. In this context, we note the following observation made by the Commission in order No. CIC/PB/A/2008/01075SM dated 20.8.2009:
“We tend to agree with them (the Respondents) that the legal opinion obtained by the bank from its lawyer cannot be disclosed as it is held in trust and in a fiduciary capacity.”
4. Taking into account the above, we note that no further action is due in respect of point No.1 of the RTI application, as the Appellant has been provided the valuation report of his own property and cannot be provided the valuation report of the properties of third parties, even if they happen to be guarantors of the loan. Copies of the legal opinion sought by the Appellant at point No.2 can also not be provided in view of the observation of the Commission mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In response to point No.3, the CPIO should provide to the Appellant copies of physical/site visit reports conducted by the branch manager/auditors of the bank, but only in respect of the property of the Appellant. The information sought at point No. 4 is regarding a complaint filed by the bank against a third party and cannot be provided. Similarly, the information in the first part of point No.5, regarding decision taken on the notice dated 18.8.2010, can also not be provided because the notice did not relate to the Appellant. However, the CPIO is directed to provide to the Appellant a certified copy of the guidelines sought in the second part of point No. 5.
5. The CPIO should complete action on our above directives within ten days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. The information should be provided free of charge.
6. With the above directions and observations, the appeal is disposed of.
7. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Tejinder Singh v. Bank of Baroda in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002527