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SC gives RBI ‘the last chance’ to release list of wilful defaulters

PW Bureau

In its ruling, a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao also asked the RBI to review its disclosure policy relating to banks under RTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court issued a final warning to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday as it asked the Central bank to disclose information pertaining to wilful defaulters under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In its ruling, a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao also asked the RBI to review its disclosure policy relating to banks under RTI, while noting that “it is duty-bound under the law” to do so.

‘It’s the last opportunity’

The Supreme Court bench also said that it was not initiating contempt proceedings against the RBI as it was giving the RBI ‘a last opportunity’ to comply with the provisions of the transparency law. The top court warned that from here on, it would take a serious view of the refusal of the RBI to part with this information under the RTI. “Any further violation shall be viewed seriously,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court had earlier issued a contempt notice to the RBI for not disclosing the annual inspection report of banks under RTI.

The background of the case

The court is hearing a contempt petition filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal and Girish Mittal in 2017 through advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva. Through the petition, the activists have challenged the RBI’s directive to its public information officers to not disclose any information pertaining to the annual inspection report of banks.

Earlier, both the SC and the Central Information Commission had held that the RBI cannot refuse to divulge the information sought under the RTI Act. The RBI, in its defence, had said that it cannot divulge the information as it contained “fiduciary” information as defined under the transparency law.