ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Case of Reserve Bank of India

How Much Transparency?

A financial regulatory system, based on proper disclosure of information to the public, not only contributes to democratic accountability, but also enhances the trust of end users in the market. However, in cases where the regulators have confidential information about the entities under them, releasing such information in the public domain can be a complicated issue. Should all the information held by the regulator be released to the public? Or should such information be provided selectively? This article explores the Reserve Bank of India’s accountability and disclosures to the public in the light of these questions and the Supreme Court’s “RTI judgment.”

Between 2009 and 2011, the central public information officer (CPIO) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was flooded with numerous applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information related to various issues. These included inspection reports of banks, reports of banks that went on liquidation, advisory notes issued to banks for violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), list of banks which were issued show cause notices, contraventions and violations made by specific banks and actions taken against them, confirmed or draft minutes of meetings of governing board/board of directors/committee of directors of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), copies or details of all the complaints filed with the RBI against specific banks, etc.

The CPIO had rejected all such applications stating that the required disclosures are exempted on grounds of economic interests, commercial confidence, RBI’s fiduciary relationship with the banks, public interest, information exempted under the RTI Act, etc. These decisions of CPIO were challenged in Central Information Commission (CIC) which directed the CPIO to disclose the information sought by the applicants. The RBI later approached various high courts and eventually got a stay on CIC’s orders.

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Updated On : 11th May, 2017
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