RBI continues to reject disclosure of information under RTI…

One had already pointed how RBI on its own has declared that it may not disclose some of the information under RTI Act. Now it is acting on this by refusing to disclose information under all kinds of pretexts.

Why were Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes demonetised by the government? Fifty days after the government announced that these notes would cease to be legal tender, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) feels that the reasons behind the sudden announcement cannot be made public. The monetary policy regulator also refused to give any details about the time it will take to replenish the currency notes. “The query is in the nature of seeking future date of an event which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” RBI said in response to an RTI query.

The Bankers’ Bank refused to disclose reasons behind the demonetisation of about Rs 20 lakh crore of currency in the country citing Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.

The section states, “Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”

Denying the information sought in the RTI application, the RBI did not give any reasons as to how exemption would apply in the given case as the decision was already taken and there was no way that disclosure of information would have fit in any of the reasons cited in section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act.

“The clause of public interest would apply where exemption clause applies on the information sought by an applicant. In the present case, the information sought does not attract any exemption clause,” former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told PTI.

In another RTI query, RBI cites threat to life and not disclosing information:

Were the views of the chief economic advisor and the finance minister taken before the sudden announcement of demonetisation of high-value currency notes by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8? The Reserve Bank of India feels this query cannot be answered under the Right to Information Act as it does not come under the definition of information under the transparency law.

The applicant wanted to know whether the “views of Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramaniam and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were taken before announcement was made”.

“Query is in the nature of seeking opinion from CPIO which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” the RBI said in response to an RTI query.

Asked whether the information sought will fall under “seeking opinion” from the CPIO, former chief information commissioner A.N. Tiwari said, “No. It does not. It is a fact sought by an RTI applicant. The CPIO cannot say an opinion has been sought from him.”

Having said that, some disclosures by RBI under RTI have already led to questions over Rs 2000 note and Board membership on the demonetisation night.If it gradually bares the information, many more skeletons could tumble from the closet.

Again, how this one event has completely turned around all this talk about how RBI will become more transparent after things like inflation target, formation of MPC and so on. It has just become the opposite disclosing information very selectively.

Infact, if both the government and its central bank believe all laws and its spirits were indeed followed on 8 Nov 2016, why not disclose? What is there to hide?

 

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