RBI denied the information on the ground of pending WP before Karnataka HC - CIC: PIO has claimed exemption u/s 8(1)(h); Not established that the disclosure of the information would impede investigation; Failed to assist the CIC properly; SCN for penalty
1. The issues under consideration arising out of the second appeal dated nil include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through his RTI application dated 05.12.2018 and first appeal dated 04.01.2019:
On October 29,2017 appellant sent one Complaint to the Governor, RBI against officers of Karnataka Bank Ltd (KBL) for providing false information to the RBI punishable as per Sec 46(1) of the Banking Regulation Act and the same complaint was received by the Department of Banking Supervision, RBI on November 29,2017. Appellant sought following information in context to the aforementioned complaint.
(i) copy of all file noting for this complaint from the date of receipt of this complaint to the date of the disposal of this RTI Application.
2. Succinctly facts of the case are that the appellant filed an application dated 05.12.2018 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai, seeking aforesaid information. The CPIO vide letter dated 04.01.2019 replied to the appellant. Dissatisfied with that, the appellant filed first appeal dated 04.01.2019 The First Appellate Authority vide order dated 22.01.2019 disposed of the first appeal. Aggrieved by that, the appellant filed a second appeal dated nil before this Commission which is under consideration.
3. The appellant has filed the instant appeal dated nil inter alia on the grounds that the denial of information was nothing but an act of blatant cover-up for inaction of the RBI officials against the management of the Karnataka Bank Ltd. which had been very successful in defrauding the general public. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide the complete information and take necessary action as per Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act.
4. The CPIO replied vide letter dated 04.01.2019 that the information was exempted under section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act. The FAA concurred with the decision taken by the CPIO.
5. The appellant and on behalf of the respondent Shri Divyaman Srivastava CPIO, and Shri Anand B, Assistant General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Bandra, attended the hearing through audio conference.
5.1. The appellant inter alia submitted that the respondent had unreasonably invoked exemption under section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act although they did not bring out any grounds that the disclosure of the information would impede the investigation.
5.2. The respondent while defending their case inter alia submitted that one writ petition W.P. 39472/2015 was pending before High Court of Karnataka as on date filing of the RTI application. Therefore, the information sought in the RTI application being related to the writ petition, the same was not disclosed to the appellant.
6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both the parties and perusal of records, observes that the reply given by the respondent is perfunctory. The respondent claimed that the information was not disclosed on the ground of pending writ petition before High Court of Karnataka. However, perusal of CPIO’s reply dated 04.01.2018 reveals that they have claimed exemption under section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act. The respondent not having established that the disclosure of the information would impede investigation, if any, the exemption was not sustainable in the eyes of law. Further, the respondent failed to assist the Commission properly and could not address the issues pertaining to investigation in the case, if any. In view of the above, Shti Abhay Kumar, CPIO, and Shri S.K. Panigrahi, the then CPIO, are show caused as to why penalty as per the provisions under section 20 (1) of the RTI Act may not be imposed upon each of them for not furnishing the information. All written submissions may be uploaded on the Commission’s web portal within 21 days.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Rachit Garg v. Reserve Bank of India in Second Appeal No. CIC/RBIND/A/2019/639268; Date of Order: 09.08.2021