Information about show cause notices issued by RBI to 19 banks - CIC: PIO to provide copy of show cause notice issued to the Deutsche Bank AG, their reply & penalty order issued by RBI, by invoking Section 10 of the RTI Act after severing the third party
The appellant, Shri Saurabh Sarvottam Dhanorkar, submitted RTI application dated 24.08.2011 before the Central Public Information Officer, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mumbai; seeking copies of show cause notices issued by RBI to 19 banks as mentioned in the press release 2010-2011/1555 dated 26.04.2014; copies of written response/replies submitted by all banks; all correspondence exchanged between RBI with the banks in respect of the show cause notices; pleadings, submissions, notes, documents, if any, filed by all the banks; file noting and entire record maintained by the RBI in respect of show cause notices; records held by RBI or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions while issuing show cause notice; the orders passed in the show cause notices etc. through seven points.
2. The Commission vide its order of even number dated 26.04.2012, adjourned the matter in view of specific directions issued by Hon’ble High Court of Delhi directing the Commission not to hear matters relating to inspection reports and notings relating to these banks.
3. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India after clubbing all such matters pending before various High Courts, vide its judgment dated 16.12.2015, while allowing disclosure of inspection reports conducted by the RBI on banks to the general public held “para 63..In the present case, we have to weigh between the public interest and fiduciary relationship (which is being shared between the RBI and the Banks). Since, the RTI Act is enacted to empower the common people, the test to determine limits of Section 8 of the RTI Act is whether giving information to the general public would be detrimental to the economic interests of the country? To what extent the public should be allowed to get information? … 64. In the context of above questions, it had long since come to our attention that the PIO under the guise of one of the exceptions given under section 8 of the RTI Act, have evaded the general public from getting their hands on the rightful information that they are entitled to…65. And in this case the RBI and the Banks have sidestepped the general public’s demand to give the requisite information on the pretext of ‘fiduciary relationship’ and ‘economic interest’. This attitude of the RBI will only attract more suspicion and disbelief in them. RBI as a regulatory authority should work to make the banks accountable in their actions…”
4. In view of above judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the matter was heard by the Commission on 07.04.2016. The appellant’s representatives stated that the Commission in the matter of Subhash Chandra Agrawal Vs. RBI [CIC/SG/A/2011/002254 dated 17.11.2011], Dr. Mohan K. Patil vs. RBI [CIC/SG/A/2011/002069 dated 29.11.2011] and Shri K.P. Muralidharan Nair vs. RBI [No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002841 dated 09.11.2.12] directed the respondents to provide complete information to the appellants. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had upheld the decision of the Commission in these cases. They further stated that now the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide its judgment dated 16.12.2015 para 10 allowed disclosure of documents/correspondence/ file notings etc. of RBI on imposing fines on some banks for violating rules along with list of banks which were ultimately found guilty, complete list of banks which were issued show cause notices before fine was imposed, list of those banks where fine was not imposed etc had allowed disclosure of information. On the Commission inviting their attention the vastness of information sought, the appellant’s representative stated that at this point of time the appellant was interested to seek information only in respect of Deutsche Bank AG placed at S. No. 17 of the RBI’s Press release: 2010-2011/1555 dated 26.04.2011 such as copy of show-cause notice issued to the bank; the bank’s reply/written submissions plus correspondence and penalty order issued by RBI.
4.1 The respondents in support of their contention drew the attention of the Commission of para 76 of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgement which held “…the Right to Information Act, 2005, contains the exemption provisions where right to information can be denied to public in the name of national security and sovereignty, national economic interests, relations with foreign states etc. Thus, not all the information that the Government generates will or shall be given out to the public…. It has to be understood that rights can be enjoyed without any inhibition only when they are nurtured within protective boundaries. Any excessive uses of these rights which may lead to tampering these boundaries will not further the national interest. And when it comes to national economic interest, disclosure of information about currency or exchange rates, interest rates, taxes, the regulation or supervision of banking, insurance and other financial institutions, proposals for expenditure or borrowing and foreign investment could in some cases harm the national economy, particularly, if released prematurely. However, lower level economic and financial information, like contracts and departmental budgets should not be withheld under this exemption. This makes it necessary to think when or at what stage an information is to be provided i.e., the appropriate time of providing the information sought for and the consequences it will lead to after coming in public domain.”
5. Having considered the submissions of both the parties, the Commission directs the CPIO to provide copy of show cause notice issued to the Deutsche Bank AG, their reply/written submissions, if any and penalty order issued by RBI, by invoking Section 10 of the RTI Act, 2005 after severing the third party information, to the appellant within twenty days of the receipt of the order of the Commission. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri Saurabh Sarvottam Dhanorkar v. Reserve Bank of India in Appeal: No. CIC/SG/A/2012/000721/MP