Shocking! On its own, RBI decides 26 areas to be out-of-bounds under the RTI Act
The Reserve Bank of India, violating the basic norms of the Right to Information (RTI) Act is against supply of any information, even if it comes under the Section 4 of the RTI Act.
If you go to most of the websites of public authorities, you will find suo motu disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI Act, hardly being adhered too. This, despite, repeated directives from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), over the last few years.
The Reserve Bank of India, has audaciously declared on its website, that it cannot disclose most of its information, even that which comes under Section 4, explaining that, â€œbeing the Central Bank of the country, in its role as banker to the Government and banker to the banks, the RBI receives and holds a lot of sensitive information, the disclosure of which may not, at all times, be in the interest of the nation or serve public interest.â€™â€™
Giving a list of 26 areas where it cannot provide information, the preamble in the link, https://rbi.org.in/Scripts/bs_viewcontent.aspx?Id=2347, states, â€œA list of such information which cannot be disclosed either wholly or partially is furnishedâ€¦While compiling the list, it has been the Bank’s endeavour to attain the objectives of the RTI Act, without jeopardizing the financial stability and economic interests of the State. It may also be noted that the list is only indicative and not exhaustive and is subject to review / revision. Each application received under the Act would be examined in the light of the provisions of the Act and any decision with respect to non-disclosure by the Bank will be supported by the relevant exemption provisionsâ€¦â€
The fact is, that even that information which is not in any way sensitive nor would it â€œjeopardize the financial interest of the Stateâ€ and which in fact, is mandatory for public disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act has been put under arrest of Section 8 of the RTI Act by the supercilious Reserve Bank. A few examples being:
Transfer Request letters / representations / records and connected notings and correspondence received from officers
List of employees of doubtful integrity
Vigilance Audit Report
Property statement and particulars of properties of employees
Information regarding merger/ amalgamation proposal of banks.
Information about annual branch expansion plan of banks during the currency of plan
Correspondence with Government relating to proposed amendments to various Acts
Information relating to appointment of directors on the boards of banks/ financial institutions, if it involves third party personal information
Details of Superannuation benefits like Provident Fund, Gratuity, Encashment of leave, commuted value of pension paid to individuals (except to legal heirs in case of death). Also, information on compassionate package paid on behalf of individuals.
The 26 areas include even those â€˜generalâ€™ areas where information comes under RT Act. For example, the Human Resources Management Department; Department of Banking Regulation and Department of Banking Supervision.
This has prompted RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar and this author to file a complaint with the Central Information Commission (CIC). Kumbhar says, â€œBanks deal with public funds even if they are private ones. Reserve Bank of India is at the head of them all and it is scandalous that it should bring in information under Section 4, into Section 8 category. It has thus left no work for the Public Information Officer (PIO) who needs to just keep denying every kind of information.â€
In addition, under Section 8 of the RTI Act, a public authority is bound to provide partial information, even if the remaining comes under information that can be denied.
About the author: PCI Babai is a Delhi based practicing hack, a cynic to core.”