Home / News / India /  SC to hear banks’ petitions on RTI

Seven years after pushing for transparency in the banking system under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea by public and private sector banks to be exempt from disclosing financial information about Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), losses from trading operations, show-cause notices and penalties. A bench of justices B.R. Gavai and C.T. Ravikumar held that the petitions moved by the banks are legally maintainable since the only remedy available to the banks “for protection of the fundamental rights of their customers" and their right to privacy is to approach the Supreme Court.

According to the bench, the 2015 judgment in the Jayantilal N. Mistry case “did not take into consideration the aspect of balancing the right to information and the right to privacy", and thus, the court was duty-bound to give banks an opportunity to argue their case on merits.

“In view of the judgment of this court in Mistry’s case, the RBI is entitled to issue directions to the petitioners/banks to disclose information even with regard to the individual customers of the bank. In effect, it may adversely affect the individuals’ fundamental right to privacy," said the court, as it referred to the 2017 nine-judge bench verdict that declared privacy to be a fundamental right. However, the right to information is also a fundamental right, said the bench, emphasising that a balance will have to struck in a situation where two rights are found to be competing with each other.

The court is expected to hear the banks’ plea on 18 October.

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