Skip to main content

Public sector banks account for 33% of Govt of India's RTI rejections, coinciding with sharp rise in NPAs or bad debts

Counterview Desk
India’s 25 public sector banks (PSBs) received more than 73,000 Right to Information (RTI) applications in the financial year 2016-17, which is 9% of the total number of RTI applications received by all reporting public authorities of the Government of India. However, a new study has found that they accounted for a whopping 33% of the rejections, too.
Bringing this to light, the study by the well-known Delhi-based advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), has said that this suggests resistance to transparency has “increased during this period, particularly when the banking sector is going through a difficult phase.”
Thus, the study finds that, in 11 PSBs, during the year 2016-17, both the number of RTI applications and the volume of net non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad debts increased.
These are: Andhra Bank (3.67% : 71.56%), Bank of Maharashtra (3.99% : 62.29%), Canara Bank (36.56% : 3.92%), Corporation Bank (34.93% : 27.64%), Dena Bank (2.19% : 47.88%), IDBI Bank Ltd. (1.63% : 72.13%), Indian Bank (7.65% : 3.45%) Indian Overseas Bank (5.71% : 2.79%), State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (3.14% : 240.60%), Syndicate Bank (17.94% : 15.49%) and United Bank of India (608.89% : 7.87%).
“Only 2 PSBs, namely, Punjab National Bank (-5.70% : -7.68%), Bank of Baroda (-5.20% : -6.83%) reported a downward trend in the receipt of RTI applications and fall in the size of net NPAs”, the study says.
The highest rejections, says the study, was by the State Bank of Hyderabad, which rejected a record 71% RTI applications, followed by the Oriental Bank of Commerce 50% rejection rate, Corporation Bank 47.3%, Andhra Bank 45.9%, Dena Bank and Canara Bank both 40%, and so on.
Prepared by senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak, the study says, as for Punjab National Bank, which has been in the news recently because of the more than USD 1.8 billion- Letters of Undertaking (LoU) fraud allegedly committed in collusion with certain business houses, rejected almost 33% RTI applications.
The study reveals, a large number of PSBs and Reserve Bank of India rejected more RTI applications under “Others” category instead of the legally permissible exemptions to disclosure provided under the RTI Act. In the “Others” category, PSBs rejected 6,625 RTI applications, as against 6,616 RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(j), relating to personal information and the protection available for privacy – the most frequently invoked of legally permissible exemptions.
The study, which is based on the data made available in the Chief Information Commission’s Annual Report, “RBI also rejected more than half (57%) of the RTI applications it received in 2016-17 under ‘Others’ category.”
Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act was the most frequently invoked of legally permissible exemptions, says the study. Under this provision the disclosure of personal information of an individual whose privacy must be protected is exempt. State Bank of India invoked this exemption to reject more than 1,100 RTI applications along with 10 other PSBs that rejected more than 200 RTI applications by invoking this exemption.
While all 25 PSBs and RBI invoked Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act to reject between six to more than 900 RTI applications, State Bank of India invoked this Section to reject 902 RTI applications – almost three times more than Syndicate Bank and Canara Bank, both of which rejected more than 380 RTI applications each, the study says.
Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act exempts information that is available to a person in his fiduciary relationship. Fiduciary relationships are trust-based relationships such as those between a doctor and a patient, a lawyer and a client, parents and their children, managers of orphanages and the wards living there.
The study further says, Ten PSBs invoked the Cabinet-related exemption of the RTI Act [Section 8(1)(i)] to reject 223 RTI applications. Interestingly, Two thirds of these RTI applications were rejected by only two PSBs, State Bank of India and Corporation Bank.
Twenty four PSBs invoked Section 8(1)(d) more than 4,200 times to reject RTI applications in 2016-17. Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act protects information that is in the nature of commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property rights (IPRs) where disclosure will harm the competitive position of a “third party”.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.