After issuing a 67-page order virtually lambasting the Reserve Bank of India and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for not making public the list of wilful defaulters, outgoing Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu has written to Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur.
Acharyulu’s missive comes as response to several points raised by him “on November 8” regarding Acharyulu’s tough stance on the non-disclosure of names of wilful bank defaulters.
Making it clear he held CIC’s charge against him for “speaking to the media” as violative of the spirit of the right to know and in general public interest, Acharyulu has written, “Can unwritten protocols override written text of law and Supreme Court’s judgment? CIC should have taken all steps to enforce its orders, including filing of a complaint for contempt of court in such cases…For the record, defaulters include those who did not pay back Rs 9.5 lakh crore of public money to Indian banks as on June 2017, those 9000 account holders who wilfully did not pay back Rs 1.1 lakh crore of public money to Indian banks by 30th September, 2017.”
Acharyulu wrote he took the spirit of the apex court’s questions to imply that there must be transparency, and names of high-net worth individuals not returning large sums of public money should be made public. Acharyulu writes that Mathur told him, “When substantial part of RTI appeal deals with subject/s allotted to other Information Commissioner/s, it should be sent to the other IC/s. Not sending is violation of unwritten protocol.”
Calling this “protocol” “unheard of”, Acharyulu stated, “Such a norm or a practice was never laid down anywhere anytime in the CIC.”