November 05, 2018

CIC issues show-cause notice to RBI Chief for dishonoring SC order on disclosure of wilful defaulters


In yet another issue surrounding wilful defaulters, RBI Governor Urjit Patel was recently issued a show-cause notice by the Central Information Commission (CIC) for "dishonoring" a Supreme Court judgment with regard to the disclosure of the names of wilful defaulters.

In addition, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the Finance Ministry, as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were asked by the Commission to make public the letter of former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on bad loans.

The Commission was disappointed with the issue that despite an earlier Supreme Court order, the RBI had denied to provide information on the disclosure of the names of wilful defaulters who have taken bank loans of Rs 50 crore and above. In this view, the Commission therefore questioned Urjit as to why a maximum penalty should not be imposed on him for "dishonoring" the verdict.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had upheld a decision taken by then Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, asking for the disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.

The Commission reported that on September 20, Urjit had stated that the Central Vigilance Commission’s guidelines on vigilance were aimed at achieving greater transparency, promoting a culture of honesty and probity in public life, and improving the overall vigilance administration in the organizations within its purview.

In this regard, Central Information Commissioner Prof. Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu said, "The commission feels that there is no match between what RBI Governor and Deputy Governor say and their website regarding their Right to Information (RTI) policy, and great secrecy of vigilance reports and inspection reports is being maintained with impunity in spite of the Supreme Court confirming the orders of the CIC in the Jayantilal case".

According to Prof. Acharyulu, it did not serve any purpose in punishing the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) for this defiance as he acted under the instructions of top authorities. The Commissioner then said, "The commission considers the Governor as deemed PIO responsible for non-disclosure and defiance of SC orders and CIC orders and directs him to show cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed on him for these reasons, before November 16, 2018."

The Commissioner added, "The commission finds no merit in hiding the names of, details, and action against wilful defaulters of big bad loans worth hundreds of crores of rupees."

He concluded, "The RBI shall disclose the bad debt details of defaulters worth more than Rs 1,000 crore at the beginning, of Rs 500 crore or less at a later stage within five days and collect such information from the banks in due course to update their voluntary disclosures from time to time as a practice under section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act."

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