RBI under RTI

By February 3, 2016 December 20th, 2019 No Comments

subject matter of the case is related to the Right to Information Act, 2005 (hereinafter
‘2005 Act’). It was established to provide a timely response to the citizen’s requests
for government information. This empowers the citizens, promote transparency
and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and
make our democracy work for the people in real sense. This case deals with
section 8 of 2005 Act which provides for exemption from disclosure of

Brief Facts:

per the facts of the case the statutory inspection of Makarpura Industrial
Estate Cooperative Bank Ltd. was conducted by RBI (hereinafter ‘Petitioner’) under
the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Thereafter, the Respondent sought some
information from the CPIO of Petitioner under the Act of 2005. CPIO replied to
the queries of Respondent. Being unsatisfied with this the Respondent filed an
appeal, which was dismissed by the First Appellate Authority. Being aggrieved
by this, another appeal was filed by the Respondent where the CIC (Central
Information Commissioner) asked the Petitioner to provide with the necessary
information. Thereafter, the Petitioner moved to Delhi High Court challenging
the CCI decision. After seeing the several other petitions similar to this case
the Petitioner asked to transfer the case to Supreme Court which was allowed by
the Delhi High Court. The Hon’ble Supreme Court clubbed this case with several
other similar cases and dispose of them together.         

Issue for Consideration:

1.      Whether
all the information sought for under the Right to Information Act, 2005 can be
denied by the Reserve Bank of India and other Banks to the public at large on
the ground of economic interest, commercial confidence, and fiduciary
relationship with other Bank on the one hand and the public interest on the
2.      If
the answer to above question is in negative, then up to what extent the information
can be provided under the 2005 Act?
Decision of Court:

Hon’ble Court after going through the definition of ‘fiduciary relationship’
from several dictionaries and case laws held that the Petitioner does not place
itself in a fiduciary relationship with the financial institutions because, the
reports of the inspections, statements of the bank, information related to the
business obtained by the Petitioner are not under the pretext of confidence or
trust. In this case neither the Petitioner nor the Banks act in the interest of
each other.

is supposed to uphold public interest and not the interest of individual ban
Petitioner is clearly not in any fiduciary relationship with any bank. Petitioner
has no legal duty to maximize the benefit of any public sector or private
sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of ‘trust’ between them. Petitioner
has a statutory duty to uphold the interest of the public at large, the
depositors, the country’s economy and the banking sector. Thus, Petitioner
ought to act with transparency and not hide information that might embarrass
individual banks. It is duty bound to comply with the provisions of the RTI Act
and disclose the information sought by the Respondents.

Hon’ble Court further held that the baseless and unsubstantiated argument of
the Petitioner that the disclosure would hurt the economic interest of the country
is totally misconceived.

Court further held that the exemption contained in Section 8(1)(e) applies to exceptional
cases and only with regard to certain pieces of information, for which
disclosure is unwarranted or undesirable. If information is available with a
regulatory agency not in fiduciary relationship, there is no reason to withhold
the disclosure of the same.  The RTI Act
under Section 2(f) clearly provides that the inspection reports, documents etc.
fall under the purview of “Information” which is obtained by the public authority
(Petitioner) from a private body.

Even if we were to consider that Petitioner and the
Financial Institutions shared a “Fiduciary Relationship”, Section 2(f) would
still make the information shared between them to be accessible by the public. However,
in the instant case the Petitioner is accountable and as such it has to provide
information to the information seekers under Section 10(1) of the RTI Act.

the Court said that, not all the information that the Government generates will
or shall be given out to the public. 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.

Leave a Reply