Banking
RBI asks co-op banks to keep interest rates variation on FDs to minimum

Stating that there was wide variations in the interest rates on single term deposits of corresponding maturities, RBI said banks should put in place a board approved transparent policy on pricing of liabilities

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked state and central co-operative banks to ensure minimal variation in interest rates on single-term deposits of Rs15 lakh and above and other deposits for corresponding maturities, reports PTI.

 

"It has been observed that there are wide variations in the interest rates offered by banks on single term deposits of Rs15 lakh and above and those offered on other deposits (i.e. deposits less than Rs 15 lakh) of corresponding maturities," RBI said in a notification to these banks.

 

Stating that there was wide variations in the interest rates on single term deposits of corresponding maturities, RBI said banks should put in place a board approved transparent policy on pricing of liabilities.

 

RBI further said banks are offering significantly different rates on deposits with very little difference in maturities.

 

It said such practice of banks suggested "inadequate liquidity management system" and "inadequate pricing methodologies".

 

Banks are allowed to offer differential rates of interest on term deposits at their own discretion, on condition that they should disclose to the depositor in advance the schedule of interest rates payable on deposits, including deposits on which differential interest is paid.

 

"The Board/ALCO should ensure that the variation in interest rates on single term deposits of Rs15 lakh and above and other term deposits (i.e. deposits less than Rs15 lakh) is minimal for corresponding maturities," RBI said.

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Judiciary snubs bulky, vague information asked under RTI

The court orders that in the backdrop of too much and vague information asked for by the citizen, providing copies of 3,419 pages in 30 days is an ‘impossible’ task for the Public Information Officer

In 2010, when I asked for the contract agreement between Ideal Road Builders (IRB) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the operation and maintenance of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, which ran into 800 odd pages, I was provided the copy within two days.

 

Recently, in a Leave Patent Appeal (LPA) filed before a division bench of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court by the State Information Commissioner, First Appellate Authority and Public Information Officer (PIO), the judge ordered that 3,419 pages of information was ‘impossible’ for the Public Information Officer to provide within the statutory 30 days. The order states that the information sought by the RTI applicant was vague, making it difficult for the PIO to collect the information and furnish it within the stipulated time. It also questioned the motive of the RTI applicant in seeking information, deeming his intentions as “malafide intentions”.

 

Let’s see what the RTI applicant asked for in his application

 

Tushar Mandlekar, a Nagpur resident, asked for documents relating to illegal registrations of imported vehicles and taxes evaded by their owners. He addressed his application to Transport Commissioner’s office, Mumbai. However, he asked much more information which is as follows:

 

(1) It is reported in the Lokmat newspaper that a large number of imported vehicles were registered illegally and the taxes were evaded. Kindly give the copy of the letters written by the transport secretary to the transport commissioner and vice versa. (Kindly give the copies of the entire communication between the office of transport secretary and the office of transport commissioner).

 

(2) Kindly give the copies of all the complaints/directions received by your office from ministers, NGOs, MLA, MLC, individuals or any other person in this regard.

 

(3) Kindly also give the preliminary report sent by the transport commissioner in this regard to the government.

 

 (4) Kindly give the copies of all the letters/communication made by the DRI officials with your office.

 

(5) Kindly give the copies of the show-cause notices sent if any to the Motor Vehicle Inspectors/officers.

 

(6) Kindly give the copies of the reply of motor vehicle officers received if any by your department in this regard.

 

(7) Is it true that your office has initiated the steps to give the enquiry to the CBI? If yes then kindly give the copies of all such letters, files and records of decisions made by the transport department.

 

 (8) Kindly also give the amount of estimated loss of customs, octroi, excise duty, road tax caused to the state exchequer because of the illegal registration of the imported vehicles.

 

(9) Kindly give the procedure and rules in registration of imported vehicles along with the list if requisite documents.

 

(10) Kindly give the copies of the complaints made by your department to the police in this regard.

 

(11) Kindly give the list of the vehicles along with the vehicle numbers which were found to have evaded the necessary taxes.

 

What happened next?
 

Mr Mandlekar did not receive his information within the stipulated 30 days. So, he filed an appeal with the First Appellate Authority (FAA) stating that under the rules of Section 19 (1) he should get information free of cost and the PIO should be penalised.
 

Meanwhile, a day later than the stipulated 30 days, the PIO sent a reply to Mr Mandlekar’s RTI application stating that he needs to pay Rs3,310 as charges for copies of information that ran into 3,419 pages. He received this reply a few days after the stipulated 30 days. The FAA ordered the PIO to provide the information free of cost. However, the PIO did not oblige.
 

So, Mr Mandlekar filed the second appeal with the State Information Commissioner (SIC) who rejected his appeal. Mr Mandlekar then filed a writ petition against the order of the SIC. The single judge of the Nagpur division of the Bombay High Court ordered the PIO to provide Mr Mandlekar the information in 10 days.
 

Unsatisfied with the high court order, the SIC along with the AA and PIO made a petition to the Leave Patent Appeal (LPA) division bench of the Nagpur division of the Bombay High Court. The judge slammed Mr Mandlekar for seeking voluminous information. The order stated: “It is apparent from a reading of what is stated above that instead of seeking information on some specific issues, the respondent sought general information on scores of matters. The application is vague and the application does not make it clear to the information officer as to what information is actually sought by the respondent from the officer.

 

“It was literally impossible for the appellants, as pointed by the learned assistant government pleader to supply the entire information sought by the respondent to the respondent within a period of 30 days. The documents ran into 3,419 pages.

 

“We had asked the respondent while hearing of this letters patent appeal as to what action did the respondent take in pursuance of the information sought by the respondent after the information was supplied and it was replied by the respondent appearing in person that nothing was done on the basis of the information supplied by the appellants as there was some delay in supplying the information.

 

“It is really surprising that thousands of documents are being sought by the respondent from the authorities and none of the documents is admittedly brought into use. We are clearly of the view in the aforesaid backdrop that the application was filed with a mala fide intention and with a view to abuse the process of law.”

 

What could have been the ideal solution?

 

The Transport Commissioner’s office is required to regularly upload such information on its website as it comes under pro-active disclosure as per Section 4 of the RTI Act

 

RTI experts opine that, while ‘intentions’ of the RTI applicant for seeking information are not mentioned in the RTI Act, experts say that, what the applicant asked for came under the suo motu proactive disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act but thanks to the public authority, in this case the Maharashtra Transport Commissioner’s office not uploading such information in the public domain, the citizen applicant has had to bear the brunt of a harsh court order and against his favour.

 

RTI applicants should be precise in the information they ask for

 

At the same time, experts comment that it should be lessons for RTI applicants to be precise with the information they seek and not ask unnecessarily seek lengthy information. In this case, the court observed that despite the department having assigned half a dozen persons to procure the information, it was difficult to coordinate it. The judgment states: “Officers were required to search and collect the information, which was required to be supplied to the applicant. We find that the information sought by the respondent and reproduced in this judgment was so general and extensive that it could not have been found out within a couple of days or even within a fortnight in spite of the best efforts of half a dozen persons working in that direction.”

 

“It is apparent from a reading of what is stated above that instead of seeking information on some specific issues, the respondent sought general information on scores of matters. The application is vague and the application does not make it clear to the Information Officer as to what information is actually sought by the respondent from the officer. It was literally impossible for the appellants, as pointed by the learned assistant government pleader.”

 

Following are excerpts from the Leave Patent Appeal (LPA) judgment in a chronological order:

  • • The last date for supplying the information free of costs was 23 August 2009. It appears that the appellant had issued a communication to the respondent, dated 20 August 2009 and posted on 24 August 2009, asking the respondent to pay an amount of Rs3,310 for the information sought by the respondent, the documents of which ran into nearly 3,419 pages. The appellants did not furnish the information within a period of 30 days
  • • The respondent filed an appeal under Section 19 (1) of the Act as the desired information was not supplied. The appeal was allowed and the first appellate authority directed the appellants to furnish the information free of costs to the respondent
  • • The respondent filed a second appeal, but the same was dismissed
  • • The respondent filed Writ Petition No.3818/2010, challenging the order of the State Information Commissioner and seeking a direction to the appellants to furnish the desired information free of costs as per the original application. A further direction to pay a penalty of Rs25,000 under the provisions of Section 20 of the Act was also sought
  • • The judge partly allowed the writ petition by the judgment, dated 26 November 2010 in appeal and directed the appellants to supply the information to the respondent free of costs within a period of ten days. The judge also imposed costs of Rs2,000 on the appellants
  • • Being aggrieved by the order, the appellants have preferred the present letters patent appeal
  • • Mr Kale, the assistant government pleader appearing on behalf of the appellants submitted that the information sought by the respondent ran into almost 3,419 pages and it was humanly impossible for appellants to provide the information to the respondent within a period of 30 days
  • • The assistant government pleader submitted that though it is necessary for the Public Information Officer to supply the information within a period of 30 days, the law would not compel a party to do that what is impossible
  • • It is submitted that it was impossible for the appellants to furnish the information running into 3,419 pages within a period of 30 days. In any case, according to the assistant government pleader, the period of 30 days expired on 23 August 2009 and the letter asking the respondent to pay the necessary charges for supplying the information was issued on the very next day on 24 August 2009
  • • In the facts and circumstances of the case, according to the assistant government pleader, the judge ought not to have imposed costs of Rs2,000 on the Public Information Officer.
  • • On hearing the counsel for the parties and on perusal of the application under Section 6 of the Act, it appears that the application was not made with a bona fide intention and the respondent had misused the provisions of the Act by seeking the information. It appears on a reading of the application that the time period relating to the information extended from 1 January 2001 to 24 July 2009

    Mandlekar's submission in the court which did not hold water

    PIO should have supplied information within 30 days: The provisions of Sections 7 and 20 of the RTI Act were referred to point out that it was necessary for the Public Information Officer (PIO) to supply the information within a period of 30 days, failing which the PIO was liable to supply the same to the respondent free of costs and was also liable to pay penalty for each day till the date of supply of the information
    PIO should have been penalized: The single judge ought to have imposed penalty of Rs 25,000 on the PIO and since the same was not imposed, he had filed a letters patent appeal, which has been rejected.

    (Details of the case: Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in The State Information Commissioner, Mr Satish Sahasrabuddhe and Mr AN Bhalchandra Vs Tushar Dhananjay Mandlekar in LPA NO.276/2012 in WP NO.3818/2010 (D)

 

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected].)

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COMMENTS

Dayananda Kamath k

5 years ago

it is such over enthusiasm by many of the rti activists that is harming the system of improving the governance. give opportunity to the babus to take refuge under such technical points and frustrate the genuine rti quiries. I have a case with rbi where appellate authroty questioned the information provided by pio. defeating the very purpose of appellate authroity. information given by pioio

drsharmilaraopn

5 years ago

The entire RTI application can be split into three, the best way to function is like you are commanding an robot.
This is to quote the consumer court.

Black Mamba

5 years ago

Very informative.

Split the RTI into many small RTIs and send to the PIO after intervals of 15 days each so that the objections raised by the PIO are diluted.

The more important task is to get the sought information and succeed in the objective for which the RTI was filed.

I volunteer myself to ask part of the information if so desired.

Quidam

5 years ago

It's a Letters Patent Appeal, not a LEAVE Patent Appeal. That's obvious even from the quotation of the HC order: "We had asked the respondent while hearing of this letters patent appeal ..." Is there some problem with getting this right? It might seem unimportant, but it's not, simply because there's no such thing as "leave patent appeal". Mistakes like this are a disservice to the reader and the publication both.

MOHAN

5 years ago

The Sarkari Babus are systematically killing the RTI Act.

REPLY

drsharmilaraopn

In Reply to MOHAN 5 years ago

kho

Difference in wholesale, retail prices of cereals, pulses below 20%

While the difference between wholesale and retail prices of cereals and pulses appears to be less than 20%, in vegetables, the difference in prices is much higher

 
New Delhi: The difference between wholesale and retail prices of cereals and pulses appears to be less than 20%, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister KV Thomas said, reports PTI.
 
In edible oils also, it is noticed that the difference is less than 20% except a few centres, he added.
 
"In the case of cereals and pulses, by and large the maximum variation between wholesale and retail prices appears to be less than 20% barring a few outlets where it is higher than 20%," Thomas said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
 
However, in vegetables, the difference in prices is at a much higher order, he said.
 
Highlighting the reasons for price difference, the minister said, "The price variation between wholesale and retail prices are on account of different layers in the distribution channels, lack of market integration, transport and handling cost, wholesalers and retailers margin and various taxes levied by different states." 
 
In view of these, the extent of gap between retail and wholesale prices tend to vary between different commodities, he added.
 
Asked about details of price variation in the organised and unorganised retail markets, Thomas said, "Retail trade is a subject matter of the state governments. No data is currently maintained." 
 
To a separate query on prices, the minister said the government closely monitors the wholesale and retail prices of 22 essential commodities from 52 centres across the country.
 
The Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) under the Consumer Affairs Ministry monitors prices of essential items but is not directly concerned with their control. PMC analyses prices collected and places it before the competent authority for deciding on appropriate policy interventions, he added.
 

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