Plea seeking bad loan details not treated as 'information' under RTI: PMO

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has termed as a "roving enquiry" an RTI plea seeking to know details of bad loans submitted by the then RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to it and which finds mention in his response to Parliament's Committee on Estimates.

The PMO has said the query does not come under the definition of "information" in the RTI Act.

"The information sought is in the form of roving enquiry and does not come under the definition of 'information' as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005," Under Secretary and CPIO at the PMO, Praveen Kumar said.

Section 2(f) defines 'information' as any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority.

 

The applicant had mentioned that he was seeking from the PMO information related to communication received from Rajan when he was RBI Governor on bank loans which is mentioned in his response to the Committee on Estimates during a hearing.

He had sought to know the list of bad loans submitted by Rajan, action taken on them by the PMO and the name of the public authority to which the matter was referred to among others.

The PMO also declined to provide information as to when it received the communication from Rajan and on the note sheet of action taken.

In the note to Chairman of Estimates Committee Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajan said the size of frauds in the public sector banking system has been increasing, though still small relative to the overall volume of non-performing assets(NPAs).

 

"The RBI set up a fraud monitoring cell when I was Governor to coordinate the early reporting of fraud cases to the investigative agencies. I also sent a list of high profile cases to the PMO urging that we coordinate action to bring at least one or two to book. I am not aware of progress on this front. This is a matter that should be addressed with urgency," he said.

Rajan, who was RBI governor for three years till September 2016, is currently teaching at the Chicago Booth School of Business.

Noting that the system has been singularly ineffective in bringing even a single high profile fraudster to book, he said frauds are different from the normal NPAs.

"The investigative agencies blame the banks for labelling frauds much after the fraud has actually taken place, the bankers are slow because they know that once they call a transaction a fraud, they will be subject to harassment by the investigative agencies, without substantial progress in catching the crooks," he said.


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel