CIC stays RBI order directing banks disclosure of defaulters and NPAs

Anshika Tiwari-

The Central Information Commission has stayed the order of the First Appellate Authority of RBI. The said order had directed disclosure on Non-Performing Assets and top defaulters of Saraswat Co-operative Bank Limited.

 The order was passed in connection with an appeal filed by Saraswat Bank against the RBI direction.

The RBI’s FAA issued the direction to the bank in an RTI application filed by former Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, seeking information on Saraswat Co-operative Bank Ltd for the last three years.

The application requested copies of RBI’s audit reports and inspection reports, warnings or advisories issued to the bank, fines or penalties levied on the bank, the grade allotted to the bank, its total non-performing assets, the report on the quality of borrowers, and the list of its top five defaulters with the amounts of default.

The First Appellate Authority ordered the release of the information sought. However, Saraswat Co-operative Bank Limited preferred an appeal before the Second Appellate Authority citing confidentiality reasons.

They submitted,

“If the information, which is confidential in nature, once disclosed, irreparable damage and huge loss will be caused to the Appellant.”

 After that, based on the facts and circumstances of the case, the CIC ordered,

 “The appellant has prayed for an interim order restraining the CPIO/FAA from releasing the information in terms of RTI application.

 In terms of the prayer, the second appeal is admitted and keeping in view of the urgency, the operation of the FAA’s order dated 15.2.2021, mentioned in para 1 above, is stayed till further orders.”

The SBI, PNB, Union Bank of India, HDFC and ICIC Bank have approached the Supreme Court challenging the RTI notices by the Reserve Bank of India to disclose information related to defaulters list and inspection reports under Section 11(1) Right to Information Act.

The RBI issued the notices based on the 2015 SC judgement of Reserve Bank of India v Jayantilal N. Mistry, which held that the RBI was obliged to disclose defaulters list, inspection reports, annual statements etc., related to banks under the RTI Act.

In April, the applications filed by banks calling for a modification of the Jayantilal judgement, was dismissed by the two-judges bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran. The bench observed, “There is no provision in the Supreme Court Rules for filing any application for recall of the judgment of this Court.”

Also Read: SC directs Union & States to file status Reports on Vacancies in Information Commissions

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