Information about CDR of M/s. Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. was sought alleging that it utilized public money for its own benefit & the loan was declared as NPA - CIC: mere granting of loans could not be treated as in public interest
1. The appellant, Shri G. Kalyan Jhabakh submitted RTI application dated 10.07.2014 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), State Bank of India (SBI), Chennai seeking information on thirteen points such as on which date did M/s. Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. first approached the SBI, Corporate Accounts Group Branch, Chennai with its proposal for restructuring the debts of the Company; the names and designations of the officers of SBI who received the proposal; within how many days of receipt of the proposal was the Committee formed for discussion on the CDR Scheme of the Company; within how many days the first Committee meeting, the CDR proposal of the Company approved by the Committee for the purpose of recommending to the other secured creditors/core group; the name of all officials who were present in the meeting first suggested that SBI back the CDR proposal of the Company and place before the CDR empowered group; the name of the officials of SBI who last made independent enquiries etc.
2. The CPIO vide letter dated 18.07.2014 denied information under the provisions of Section 8(1) (d) & (j) of the RTI Act. Dissatisfied with the reply of the CPIO, the appellant filed an appeal dated nil before the first appellate authority (FAA). The FAA vide order dated 26.08.2014 while upholding the decision of the CPIO held that the banks are bound to maintain secrecy of their customers and the information is available with the bank in fiduciary relationship which is exempt from disclosure u/s 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; of the RTI Act.
3. Thereafter the appellant filed the present appeal before the Commission.
4. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant’s representative alleged that M/s. Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd., utilized public money for its own benefit and the company defaulted in repaying the loan and later the account was declared as NPA. The bank officials as well as the officials involved in the approval of the said CDR scheme dealing with public money were answerable. Therefore, the matter is very much in public interest. The respondents reiterated their stand by adding that the appellant had sought information in 13 queries in connection with the said account, which is third party information. All the questions were related to the borrowing accounts and even the date when the borrower applied for its debit restructuring is received in fiduciary capacity and exempt from disclosure. The appellant’s representative has also not substantiative any overriding pubic interest warranting disclosures and mere granting of loans could not be treated as in public interest.
5. The Commission accepts the submissions of the respondents and holds that the information as sought for by the appellant cannot be provided under the provisions of Section 8(1)(d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act. Moreover, the appellant had not established any larger public interest, which warrants disclosure of such information. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri G. Kalyan Jhabakh v. State Bank of India in Appeal: No. CIC/MP/A/2014/002370