Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to file its response to the petition filed by the Reserve Bank of India that challenges an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) asking it disclose the names of large wilful defaulters.
The CIC had on 4 July directed the Reserve Bank to disclose the names of large wilful defaulters and also the letter written by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan to the PMO on bad loans. The HC seeks government view on RBI plea against CIC order on naming wilful defaulters.
The CIC, which was hearing a petition filed by Delhi resident Ajay Gupta, also asked RBI to provide the information within four weeks.
When it failed to do so, the CIC earlier this month had issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor Urjit Patel for “dishonouring" a Supreme Court judgment on disclosure of the names of the wilful defaulters.
The CIC had asked Patel to explain as to why a penalty should not be imposed on him for not implementing an apex court order that upheld a decision taken by then information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, calling for disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.
On 18 November, the CIC had once again asked the RBI to submit the list and also Rajan’s letter on bad loans to the PMO.
The central bank earlier this week approached the Bombay High Court challenging the July 4 CIC order as well as the show-cause notice issued to Patel.
The petition came up for hearing Thursday before a division bench of justices BP Dharmadhikari and SV Kotwal.
Since Central counsel DP Singh sought time to file the response, the court posted the matter for further hearing to 18 December and said the interim stay granted earlier would continue on implementation of the CIC order.
The RBI in its petition said the Union Home Ministry gives information on wilful defaulters to it in a confidential manner and has also asked the RBI to not disclose the same as it can jeopardise national security.
“The RBI is only maintaining and respecting this confidentiality. In August, the RBI addressed a letter to the Union Home Ministry apprising it of the CIC order. The ministry replied that the said information was confidential and ought not to be disclosed," the RBI said in its petition.
The central bank also termed the CIC order as arbitrary and bad in law as the RBI was not the proprietor of the information being sought.
The RBI further said it only passes on information received from the Union home ministry to the banks concerned and does not maintain a database of the said information. It further said disclosing such information will have an impact on national security as well.