Dismissing the Prime Minister’s Office’s latest response disclaiming responsibility, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Sridhar Acharyulu said on Friday that the government must divulge the list of wilful defaulters of large loans.
In his order, the Commissioner slammed the PMO for refusing to comply with his November 2 direction to explain what action has been taken on former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan’s 2015 letter alerting the PMO to high-profile cases of wilful default.
The PMO had claimed that as the original petition was not addressed to it, it was not liable to comply with the direction. Mr. Acharyulu, said “If there is any objection based on any exception, the PMO should have pleaded such provision and justify their denial. Instead, the PMO refused to comply with the direction of disclosure of action on letter of Sri Raghuram Rajan, on grounds which are not legal.”
“The CPIO of the RBI did not provide information obviously because of instructions of the higher authorities, which might include apex policymakers,” Mr. Acharyulu said. But the CIC allowed the RBI’s request for more time to respond.
Mr. Acharyulu also defended his decision to hold RBI governor Urijit Patel personally liable for defying the Supreme Court’s previous orders.
“Can an ordinary PIO do such a big job? The highest authority of the RBI will do it. So do you think I should punish the ordinary small employee?” Acharyulu said.
Acharyulu was hearing the plea of one Sandeep Singh who had sought details of bank loan defaulters. “It is against the RTI Act, the collective intention of Parliament, an affront to democracy, reflecting disrespect to the Supreme Court’s directions in RBI v Jayantilal N Mistry case. The RBI has a strong legal team with experienced legal experts and meritorious graduates from National Law Schools, yet has the audacity to openly defy RTI Act, CIC directions and judgment of the Supreme Court,” he said.