(This story originally appeared in on May 29, 2021)
The two largest banks in the country —
State Bank of India
— moved the Supreme Court on Friday and sought a stay on the Reserve Bank of India’s directive to banks to provide financially sensitive data under the RTI Act, saying they feared that it could be detrimental to their business operations and compromise confidentiality of customer information.
Though the direction was sought against RBI, it was aimed at the SC’s order that allowed divulging of such data.
Court earlier restrained RBI from disclosure under RTI Act
The SBI, through advocate Sanjay Kapur
, said, “In view of the judgment in Jayantilal N Mistry case, the RBI is seeking disclosure of confidential and sensitive information of the applicant bank, including information of its employees and its customers, purportedly under the Right to Information Act, 2005, which are otherwise exempt under the provisions of Section 8 of said Act.”
Appearing for the SBI and HDFC, solicitor general Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices L N Rao and Aniruddha Bose that divulging sensitive information like inspection reports/risk assessment reports/annual financial inspection reports of banks would render them vulnerable in the competitive banking sector to rivals, who could exploit the RTI Act to know the trade secrets and internal strengths of successful banks.
The court had earlier restrained the RBI from disclosing such reports under the RTI Act.
However, that interim order got washed away because of the SC’s April 28 order refusing the review the Jayantilal N Mistry judgment.