With the Reserve Bank of India’s board meeting set to be held Monday, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has once again directed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the RBI to release the list of wilful defaulters and former governor Raghuram Rajan’s letter on bad loans. The CIC, in a 66-page letter, admonished the PMO for not complying with its directive.
“If there is any objection based on an exception, the PMO should have pleaded such provision and justify their denial,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu was quoted as saying by PTI. The information commissioner called the grounds for not complying with the commission’s decision as “not legal and unfortunate.”
Acharyulu was hearing the plea of one Sandeep Singh who had sought details of bank loan defaulters. “It is against the RTI Act, the collective intention of Parliament, an affront to democracy, reflecting disrespect to the Supreme Court’s directions in RBI v Jayantilal N Mistry case. The RBI has a strong legal team with experienced legal experts and meritorious graduates from National Law Schools, yet has the audacity to openly defy RTI Act, CIC directions and judgment of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Saying that the stand taken by the PMO will not serve any public interest, Acharyulu said, “If the RBI does not respect the SC orders and denies the citizens right to information, it will result in perpetuation of financial regime of secrecy that is potential enough to facilitate financial frauds and allow fraudulent rich and influential business persons to flee the country, as witnessed in recent times.”
The Commission had initially issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor Urjit Patel for “dishonouring” a Supreme Court judgment on disclosure of the wilful defaulters’ list, news agency PTI reported on Sunday. Irked over the non-disclosure of names of wilful defaulters who have taken bank loans of Rs 50 crore and above by the RBI in spite of a Supreme Court order, the CIC has asked Patel to explain why a maximum penalty should not be imposed on him for “dishonouring” the court verdict, which had upheld a decision taken by then information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, calling for disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.