RBI monitoring rupee; will intervene when necessary: FM

A weaker rupee is a matter of concern for India as it depends on imports for over 70% of its oil and gas requirements and the depreciation in the local currency have made imports expensive

New Delhi: As the rupee depreciated to a new 32-month low against the US dollar, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is monitoring the situation and will intervene in the forex market “as and when necessary”, reports PTI.

“As RBI has already mentioned, it is watching the situation. As and when it is necessary, they will intervene” Mr Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of CAG event.

His comments came a day after the apex bank said that it will intervene in the foreign exchange market only to arrest volatility.

“We intervene when there is a very strong movement in a particular direction or extreme volatility and the objective is to smooth that volatility and not fix a rate,” RBI deputy governor Subir Gokarn had said yesterday.

The Indian rupee fell by 24 paise to a fresh 32-month low of Rs50.91 against the US dollar in early trade today amid depreciation of the euro due to the deepening debt crisis in the euro-zone nations.

The Indian rupee is the fourth most depreciated currency in the world and most depreciated in the Asian continent.

The RBI has attributed the movement to the demand-supply factor, and said it is happening globally.

Mr Gokarn had said that RBI would opt for open market operations to manage liquidity in the system only if there is a stress and not to influence government bond yields.

A weaker rupee is a matter of concern for India as it depends on imports for over 70% of its oil and gas requirements and the depreciation in the local currency have made imports expensive.

This has come at a time when headline inflation has remained above the 9% mark for 11 consecutive months.

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CIC says disclose inspection reports of apex cooperative banks as well

If there are certain irregularities in the working and functioning of such banks and institutions, the citizens certainly have a right to know about the same, Mr Gandhi said in his landmark judgement

In an unprecedented order, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi has ruled that disclosure of inspection reports of apex co-operative banks of various states and Mumbai District Co-operative Bank must be shared with the public in a proactive manner. This kind of disclosure would certainly serve public interest, as mandated under Section 8(2) of the RTI Act, the CIC said.

Ruling out the public information officer's (PIO) contention that disclosing the inspection reports would prejudicially affect the economic interests of the Indian nation, the CIC said, "It is pertinent to mention that significant amounts of public funds are kept with institutions including co-operative banks which are regulated by the apex co-operative banks. Therefore, it is only logical that the public has a right to know about the functioning and working of such entities including any lapses in regulatory compliances."

"Merely because disclosure of such information may harm the economic interest of the state, this cannot be a reason for denial of information under the RTI Act. If there are certain irregularities in the working and functioning of such banks and institutions, the citizens certainly have a right to know about the same. The best check on arbitrariness, mistakes and corruption is transparency, which allows thousands of citizens to act as monitors of public interest. There must be transparency as regards such organisations so that citizens can make an informed choice about them," Mr Gandhi said in an order issued on 14 November 2011.

Mumbai-based Kishanlal Mittal has filed an application under the RTI Act asking for copies of inspection reports of apex cooperative banks of various states and Mumbai District Cooperative Bank from 2005. Mr Mittal also asked the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to provide copies of all correspondences it had with Maharashtra state govt, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and any other agency of state or union government regarding Maharashtra State Cooperative bank from January 2010 onwards. He also sought confirmed and or draft minutes of meetings held by governing board and directors of NABARD from April 2007.

The PIO of NABARD, in his reply said that information about inspection reports and its directors' meeting sought by Mr Mittal, are exempted under Sec8(1)(a) of the RTI Act 2005. Unsatisfied with this answer, Mr Mittal then approached the first appellate authority, which did not pass any order within the stipulated time. Mr Mittal then filed second appeal with the CIC.

In its order the CIC said, “The Appellant (Mr Mittal) has sought copies of inspection reports of apex co-operative banks of various states/Mumbai District Co-operative Bank from 2005 till date. At the outset, this Bench is unable to agree with the PIO that disclosing the said inspection report(s) would prejudicially affect the economic interests of the Indian Nation. Moreover, even if the information sought was exempt under Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, this Bench is of the considered view that disclosure of inspection reports of apex co-operative banks of various states/Mumbai District Co-operative Bank must be shared with the public in a proactive manner. This kind of disclosure would certainly serve public interest, as mandated under Section 8(2) of the RTI Act."

Section 8 (2) of the RTI Act states, “Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 nor any of  the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interests in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests”.

The fundamental rights of citizens, enshrined in the Constitution of India cannot be curbed on a mere apprehension of a public authority. The Supreme Court of India has recognized that the Right to Information is part of the fundamental right of citizens under Article 19 of the Constitution of the India. Any constraint on the fundamental rights of citizens has to be done with great care even by Parliament. "The exemptions under Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act are the constraints put by Parliament and adjudicating bodies have to carefully consider whether the exemptions apply before denying any information under the RTI framework," Mr Gandhi remarked in his landmark judgement.

You may also want to read:

Inspection reports of co-operative banks should be made public by RBI, rules CIC
 

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COMMENTS

MUNDLE UMESH

5 years ago

VERY GOOD DECISION TAKEN INTO THE PUBLIC INTREST.

Disclose top 100 loan defaulter businessmen: CIC to RBI

While the RBI had objected to making the information public saying it is held by it in fiduciary capacity and disclosing it would adversely affect economic interest of the state, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that such exemption does not stand when there is larger public interest in the disclosure

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make public the names and other details of top 100 industrialists of the country who have defaulted on loans from public sector banks, reports PTI.

The commission also directed the central bank to post on its web site complete information on all such industrialists as part of suo-motu disclosure mandated under section four of the RTI Act before 31st December and asked it to update it every year.

The RBI had objected to making this information public saying it is held by it in fiduciary capacity and disclosing it would adversely affect economic interest of the state.

Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi agreed that information is fiduciary in nature but said that such exemption does not stand when there is larger public interest in the disclosure.

“There can be no doubt that the information on defaulters received from banks are held by the Reserve Bank in a fiduciary capacity and are confidential in nature,” an RBI official had said while deciding RTI application of PP Kapoor of Panipat, Haryana.

Mr Kapoor had sought to know from the RBI the details of default in loans taken from public sector banks by various industrialists besides list of defaulters, top 100 defaulters, name of the businessman, address, firm name, principal amount, interest amount, date of default and date of availing loan.

During the hearing, Mr Gandhi asked the RBI if the information about loan defaulters is held by it as part of statutory requirements. The public information officer admitted that the banks were providing the information in fulfilment of statutory requirements.

Mr Gandhi in his detailed order said, “In fact, information about industrialists who are loan defaulters of the country may put pressure on such persons to pay their dues. This would have the impact of alerting citizens about those who are defaulting in payments and could also have some impact in shaming them.”

He said there is no doubt that details of top industrialists who have defaulted in repayment of loans must be brought to the citizens’ knowledge and there is certainly a larger public interest that would be served on disclosure of the same, hence clause of fiduciary information does not stand.

“This (disclosure) could lead to safeguarding the economic and moral interests of the nation. The commission is convinced that the benefits accruing to the economic and moral fibre of the country far outweigh any damage to the fiduciary relationship of bankers and their customers if the details of the top defaulters are disclosed,” he said.

He said the commission is aware that information on defaulters is being shared by RBI with an organisation called CIBIL adding that “it is difficult to understand the reluctance to share this information with citizens using RTI”.

The commission also rejected the contention that disclosure would adversely affect economic interest of the state saying “if it means that such borrowers would not bank with public sector banks for fear of exposure, it would in fact be in the economic interest of the nation.

“It is also unlikely that the economic well being of the nation could get affected adversely by disclosing the names and details of defaulters. The Indian economy is dependent on far stronger footings,” he said.

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