RBI rapped for violating RTI Act

CIC to conduct hearing through video conferencing in Gulbarga on April 8

The Reserve Bank of India, in its reply to a Gulbarga-based RTI activist Shaikh Shafi Ahmed, refused to part with information stating that it has not yet completed the process envisaged under Section 4(1)(a) of the Act. But it seems to have ignored the fact that it is mandatory to complete the process under Sections 4(1) (a) and 4 (1) (b) within 120 days of the notification of the RTI Act 2005.

Section 4(1)(a) envisages categorisation of files, their indexing, date of opening of file and date of its closing, record retention schedule among others while Section 4(1)(b), which is regarded as the heart and soul of the Act, mandates public authorities to publish functions and duties of of officials, procedure followed in decision-making process, norms set for discharge of functions, regulations, instructions, manuals, statement of the categories of documents held by it, directory of its employees, and particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information.The RBI stated in its written reply to the applicant that the information under Section (4)(1)(b) was exhaustive and they have not maintained the same in the print form.

Shaikh Shafi Ahmed said, “These two sections are of utmost importance and based on the suo motu declaration an applicant can seek specific information.” But, the RBI has not complied with the rules.

He filed an appeal before the first appalent, a deputy governor of the RBI. The first appalent contended that the information sought by him was vague and the RTI Act didn’t provide for the public authority giving any declaration under Section 4(1)(b). Hence, such information can’t be sought or provided.

Ahmed later approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which has issued notices to both the respondents-the Central Public Information Officer and the First Appellate Authority of the RBI.

Video conferencing
Since the applicant is in the far off Gulbarga, the respondents in Mumbai and the CIC in Delhi, the CIC will hold the hearing on April 8 through video conferencing with the help of the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
Ahmed will have to appear at the NIC district centre in Gulbarga while the respondents will appear at the NIC, opposite Mantralaya, Mumbai.
The CIC will be present at the Commission Building, JNU Campus, Delhi. This is for the first time that RTI hearing is being held at mofussil centre like Gulbarga.
DH News Service

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