Banks not heard if the 2015 ruling resulted in a ruling asking them to disclose information under RTI, SC said
New Delhi, July 19 (PTI) Banks were neither parties nor a hearing in a case that led to a 2015 ruling requiring RBI to provide information such as confidential annual reports and a list of debtors under the Transparency Act, the said The Supreme Court on Monday announced the center and lenders opposed the ruling.
The Center, State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Canara Bank (CB), Union Bank of India (UBI) and HDFC Bank Ltd have postponed the Supreme Court to rule on To contest 2015 in the Jayantilal N Mistry case and the resulting instructions from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asking them to provide relevant information to applicants under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
A bench of judges, S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari, said it would listen to requests from the banks and the center on July 22 and take a call asking whether they should hear them or another bank headed by Judge L. Nageswara Rao.
“In fairness the case should go to a bank under the direction of Judge Rao,” said Judge Nazeer.
Attorney General Tushar Mehta, who appears for SBI, said he had no problem which bank is hearing the case, but the matter had to be negotiated by a three-person jury as “the issue of the legal embargo (under RTI) on withholding confidential information” not mentioned in the judgment ”.
The judgment of the court came in light of the fact that on April 28 of this year a bank of Judges Rao and Vineet Saran refused to recall the 2015 ruling, as requested by some banks, on the grounds that according to the law and the rules of the Supreme Court, the reasons for the recall are not tenable.
However, the court then made it clear that it was not addressing any of the banks’ arguments regarding the correctness of the judgment. “Rejection of these requests does not prevent applicants (banks) from pursuing other legal remedies available to them,” it said.
“Banks were not parties to the case in which the verdict was given,” said senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, representing HDFC Bank, adding that a private bank may be asked to share its confidential banking secrets and customer details with a “fourth Political party”.
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The RBI has justified that it has a fiduciary relationship with the banks and therefore could not part with the information to applicants under the RTI, said Rohatgi, adding that the banks have many other reasons and then do not take them into account as they were not parties to the dispute.
Referring to a provision of the RTI that prohibits the dissemination of information and the judgment of the nine-member bench on data protection, he said: “I do not want anyone else to know about my annual inspection report”.
The motion was denied by attorney Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the RTI activist, saying the Indian Banks’ Association, of which all banks are affiliated, and the ICICI were parties to the plea.
At the outset, the attorney general said the matter would be heard by a three-person jury and that a holistic judicial review of the whole matter was needed as banks were not involved in the 2015 ruling.
On July 3, the Supreme Court took note of the PNB plea and asked the center, the RBI and their central public information officer (CPIO) for answers.
Banks are harmed by the communications from RBI addressed to them under Section 11 (1) of the Right to Information Act (RTI) asking them to disregard information on their inspection reports and risk assessments.
The RTI Act empowers the RBI’s CPIO to obtain information from banks.
On April 28, the Supreme Court refused, on legal grounds, to recall its famous 2015 judgment in the Jayantilal N Mistry case, which found that the RBI must provide information about banks and financial institutions (FIs) it regulates Transparency Act.
Several financial institutions and banks, including CB, Bank of Baroda, UCO Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, had petitions to the Supreme Court to overturn the 2015 ruling, stating that the ruling would have far-reaching consequences and would directly and materially affect them.
The banks had argued that the actions for the withdrawal of the judgment instead of a review were “tenable”, since a violation of the principles of natural law violated, since they were neither parties nor a hearing.
“A close examination of the recall requests makes it clear that the plaintiffs are essentially seeking a review of the Jayantilal N Mistry judgment. We are therefore of the opinion that these applications cannot be maintained, ”the top court decided.
In rejecting the pleas in law, however, the bank had made it clear that it was not addressing the banks’ statements on the accuracy of the 2015 ruling.
Now the Supreme Court is being attacked by several pleadings by banks against the RBI’s instruction to disclose information in the context of RTI. PTI SJK ABA MNL SA