RBI governor Urjit Patel served notice for not disclosing wilful defaulters' names
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel has been slapped with a show-cause notice by the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Right to Information watchdog, for "dishonouring" a Supreme Court judgment on the disclosure of the names of individuals designated as "wilful defaulters".
The move comes in the wake of an ongoing tussle between the central bank and the government.
Irked by an alleged denial of information on people who have taken bank loans of Rs 50 crore and above by the RBI despite a Supreme Court order, the Central Information Commission (CIC) asked Patel to explain why a maximum penalty be not imposed on him for "dishonouring" the verdict.
The CIC, in the reprimand issued to Patel, asked him, "If a banking regulatory like RBI does not honour the constitutional institution's directions, what will be the effect of the constitution on securing the rule of law? The RBI is liable to provide information regarding inspection report and other documents to the general public."
"The commission feels that there is no match between what the RBI governor and the deputy governor say and their website regarding their 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," the order signed by Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
"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 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 RTI Act. Appeal is posted on 16th November 2018 for compliance and penal proceedings," the order added.
The RBI has the right to obtain information from the banks under Section 27. This information can only be in its discretion published in such consolidated form as RBI deems fit, the order said.
"The commission has no alternative except to hold the governor, Urjit R Patel, and other officers of the top management of this esteemed institution for dis-honouring the judgment and directions of the Supreme Court. 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," it further said.
ON RAGHURAM RAJAN'S LETTER
The CIC has also sent notices to the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Finance seeking information regarding another RTI application about the claim that former RBI governor Sri Raghuram Rajan made in his note to a parliamentary committee that he had handed over "a list of high profile fraud cases of non-performing assets to the PMO for a coordinated investigation."
The RBI had informed the CIC that Rajan's letter to the PMO about the defaulters suspected of fraud was written on February 4, 2015 and a copy was given to the finance minister also. The commission has directed the CPIOs of the RBI, the PMO and office of the finance minister to explain the action taken on the alerting letter written by Rajan, before November 16, 2018.