CIC orders RBI to expose 100 top loan defaulters

Transparency panel overrules Central banks stand on info being fiduciary

CIC orders RBI to expose 100 top loan defaulters

The CIC has also directed the country’s Central bank to post the complete information of all such defaulting businessmen and industrialists on its web site as part of a suo motu disclosure mandated under Section 4 of the transparency law, before December 31. The RBI has been directed to update this list every year.

The commission’s decision has overruled the objection raised by the Reserve Bank while deciding on an RTI application filed by P P Kapoor of Panipat in Haryana.

In his application, Kapoor had sought the details of default in loans taken from public sector banks by various industrialists, besides other information related to the top 100 defaulters, the names of the businessmen/industrialists, their addresses, the names of the companies they headed, the principal amount, the interest amount, the dates of the default and the dates when the loans were availed.

“There can be no doubt that the information on defaulters received from banks are held by the Reserve Bank in a fiduciary capacity and are confidential in nature,” an RBI official had said while deciding on Kapoor’s RTI application.

Although Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi agreed with the RBI’s argument that such information was fiduciary in nature, he said that exemption could not be allowed when there was larger public interest in the disclosure.

Gandhi’s argument was that “this (disclosure) could lead to safeguarding the economic and moral interests of the nation. The commission is conv­inced that the benefits accruing to the economic and moral fibre of the country, far outweigh any damage to the fiduciary relationship of bankers and their customers if the details of the top defaulters are disclosed.”

The Information Commissioner commented that the transparency panel was aware that the RBI shares information on defaulters with an organisation called the CIBIL and that “it is difficult to unde­rstand the reluctance to share this information with citizens using RTI”.
In his judgment, Gandhi noted that “it is often seen that banks and financial instituti­ons continue to provide lo­a­ns to industrialists despite their default in repayment of an ea­rlier loan” and that “promoting industrialisation at the co­st of public funds does not se­­r­­ve the public interest; it me­­rely amounts to transferri­ng public money to private account”.

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