Respondent: though the charge sheet had been filed by CBI, the information could not be disclosed as it would harm the Bank’s position in the ongoing trial & also in the DRT proceedings - CIC: provide the documents which are not part of the investigation
1. The appellant, Shri K E Ravichandran, submitted RTI application dated October 15, 2013 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), State Bank of India, Ballarpur; seeking information regarding loan and advances sanctioned to M/s Deepali Trading Corporation and Deepali Roadlines Pvt. Ltd. by SBI, Ballarpur for the period between 1.1.1998 to 31.7.1999 etc. asking for 264 documents.
2. Vide reply dated November 9, 2013 CPIO denied the information on the ground that the documents sought and records were not public documents and those were held by Bank in fiduciary capacity and also informed that some of the documents like register, vouchers, receipts etc. were destroyed under Bank’s record retention policy and finally denied the information 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; & (h) of the RTI Act, 2005. Not satisfied with the CPIO’s reply, the appellant preferred an appeal dated November 22, 2013 to the first appellate authority (FAA) alleging that the CPIO had wrongly denied the information as the Bank had already filed the recovery suit against the borrowers and therefore refusal to provide the information was not justifiable. Vide order dated December 11, 2014 FAA directed the CPIO to furnish a revised reply to the appellant mentioning if 264 documents as to whether these were available with him or not within 30 days; thereafter, he also allowed inspection of records to the appellant.
3. Dissatisfied with the response of the public authority, the appellant preferred second appeal before the Commission.
4. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant requested that all the above mentioned four cases based on the identical RTI application should be treated as one second appeal and to be disposed of jointly. He submitted that he had sought a total of 264 documents relating to the case involving the fraud committed by M/s Deepali Trading Corporation and Deepali Roadlines Pvt. Ltd. with SBI, Ballarpur. He submitted that he was not provided any documents by the CPIO concerned initially but was provided total of 11 unattested documents after FAA’s order. He had still not received the rest of the information from the respondents.
5. The respondent from Chandrapur submitted that after the FAA’s order they had furnished the information on point nos. 20, 21, 22, 23, 30, 31, 39, 41, 43, 47 & 222 to the appellant. He also submitted that some of the documents sought were very old and related to the year 1996 & 1997. They had tried their best but could not trace the documents other than the ones already supplied. Some documents were in the custody of CBI as a case was going on there and some documents had been destroyed as per their record retention schedule which allows the destruction of documents after a certain period of time and in this case many documents sought were quite old. Total of 11 documents had been provided and another 31 documents had also been traced at their Nagpur Office but they have to take their GM’s consent to provide the same to the appellant under RTI Act. He also submitted that CBI investigation was going in this case and it was not complete yet. Upon this the appellant submitted that the CBI investigation had already been completed and chargesheet had also been filed by them and also that he had been made one of the accused in this case.
6. The respondent from Mumbai who joined later for this case; submitted that the CBI had completed the investigation and had already filed the chargesheet in this case. She also submitted that though the chargesheet had been filed but still they could not disclose the information sought for even on those traced 31 documents as it would harm the Bank’s position in the ongoing trial in view of the commercial confidence involved therefore providing the documents was exempt from disclosure u/s 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act, 2005. She also submitted that they were also fighting a DRT case against the appellant for recovery of their dues and providing these documents will affect the Bank’s interest adversely.
7. In view of the above, the Commission directs the respondents to provide the documents which are not part of the CBI investigation and also furnish attested copies of the 11 documents sent earlier to the appellant within 7 days of the receipt of the order of the Commission. The appeals are disposed of.
Citation: Shri K E Ravichandran v. State Bank of India in Appeal No. CIC/MP/A/2014/900359 CIC/MP/A/2014/000423 CIC/MP/A/2014/001976 CIC/MP/C/2014/000194