The Supreme Court today (Friday, April 26) told Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to comply with its order to disclose audit reports of banks, including list of wilful defaulters, under Right to Information (RTI) Act or face contempt of court proceedings.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and MR Shah told RBI: “This is your last opportunity.”
The bench also ordered RBI to withdraw its non-disclosure policy deeming it violative of its judgment in 2015. As per 2015 judgment, the central bank is supposed to divulge the annual audit report of the banks which includes status of NPAs and information related to wilful defaulters and action taken there on. The judgment had mandated the disclosure of audit report under RTI.
The Court, which did not initiate contempt proceedings against the RBI, warned that any future violation of the transparency law would be “viewed seriously”. In January this year, the Court had issued a contempt notice to the RBI.
The apex court was hearing the plea filed by RTI activist Subhash Chander Agrawal seeking contempt proceedings against RBI Governor for not adhering to the 2015 judgment.
The case was filed after the petitioners were denied copies of inspection reports of ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and State Bank of India from April 2011 till December 2015. They had sought the same under the RTI in December 2015.
The RBI had stated that it was exempt from disclosing information under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act and Section 45NB of the Reserve Bank of India Act.
The SC, in its judgment in 2016, had said the RBI is not in any fiduciary relationship with any bank.