Information about certain loan accounts – copies of letters sought to show that the loan was a group advance – the appellant was a guarantor in one of the entities – PIO rejected as fiduciary information – inspection ordered by CIC
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an RTI application with the PIO on 22.2.2012 seeking information about certain loan accounts. The PIO denied the information on 6.3.2012 under section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. of the RTI Act.
2. Not satisfied with the reply of PIO, the appellant filed an appeal on 12.3.2012 with the first appellate authority (FAA). The FAA upheld the reply of the CPIO on 13.4.2012 stating that the information sought is exempt from disclosure under 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; of the RTI Act 2005. The appellant approached the Commission on 17.5.2012 in second appeal.
3. The appellant participated in the hearing personally. The respondent participated in the hearing through video conferencing.
4. The appellant referred to his RTI application and stated that he was seeking copies of letters dated 9.12.1994 and 17.10.2001.
5. The appellant said that these two letters would demonstrate that a certain entity was treated as an associated concern of another entity that had taken a loan in respect of which recovery proceedings have been initiated.
6. The respondent stated that they do not have copies of these two letters and that in any case the appellant was a third party and the correspondence in this matter was held by the bank in fiduciary relationship, hence it could not be shared with anyone.
7. The appellant stated that the bank has deliberately been concealing the information from him because these two letters would reveal that the loan in question was a group advance. The appellant said that this fact helps him to protect his interests in the settlement of accounts. The appellant also stated that there is collusion between the bank and the principal borrowers of both the companies participating in the group advance. The appellant stated that he was a guarantor in one of the entities whose account was not settled and this is the reason why he is seeking copies of the two letters of 9.12.1994 and 17.10.2001.
8. The appellant said that it is mentionable that the directors and partners are the same in both the companies and according to the law, in matters such as this coming under the definition of group advance, these have to be settled simultaneously. But, the account of the other entity had been settled in 2008. The appellant further said that in cases where there is group advance, the bank should have also notified the appellant because the bank knew that he was the guarantor of one of the entities. The appellant said that the bank officers are concealing information because they know that there are consequences not only arising from variation of contract but also because of collusion.
9. The respondent is directed to enable the appellant to inspect the two aforementioned letters and connected documents. Compliance must be done within 30 days of this order. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri N. Santhanam v. Punjab & Sind Bank in Decision No. CIC/VS/A/2012/000973/03968