New Delhi: Noting that agreements entered into by banking enterprises with its customers were matters of “commercial confidence”, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled out disclosure of information pertaining to bank account details under the Right to Information Act.
“A bank is a commercial entity and the agreement it has arrived at with other parties are a matter of commercial confidence. The bank holds such information concerning private persons in a relationship of trust,” Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramaniam said in a recent order.
The Commission said this while dismissing a RTI request of a Amritsar resident Rajan Verma who had sought from Canara Bank five years details about all non-performing accounts (NPAs) at its Jallandhar branch, and settlements pertaining to them.
An account of a borrower is declared to be as non-performing when such a borrower is classified by a bank to be as sub-standard or doubtful, following which a compromise is arrived at.
“A one-time settlement that has been arrived at by the bank in respect of a non-performing account being a matter of commercial confidence, the bank is under no obligation to disclose such information unless it is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information,” the CIC said in its order.
The Commission came to its decision after noting that Verma, who was a guarantor for a loan granted by the bank to a private company which later became a NPA, had sought the information in pursuance of his private interests.
Referring to the exemption clauses of the RTI Act, the Commissioner said that no information which could harm the competitive position of a third party including details related to commercial confidence and trade secrets, could be disclosed under the information law.
“An information which is either a matter concerning commercial confidence or available to a person in a fiduciary relationship or which is a personal information having no relationship with any public activity or interest, is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act,” the order stated.
Verma’s application, filed with the Canara Bank on 8 February this year, was rejected by the bank on the ground that it was bound to maintain the confidentiality of account details of its borrowers.