RBI Defies SC Order Again, Makes ‘Smart’ Use of RTI Itself to Hold Back Inspection Report
Despite strict direction of the Supreme Court (SC) to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in April 2019, to disclose annual inspection reports of banks and, in fact, to upload them on the website, the latter has smartly stonewalled a Right to Information (RTI) request to disclose the past three years’ inspection report of Shivajirao Bhosale Sahakari Bank, Pune, by invoking Section 11 of the RTI Act pertaining to permission by the `third party’ to do so.
 
Vivek Velankar, noted Pune-based RTI activist, had filed an RTI application to the RBI requesting inspection reports of the Shivajirao Bhosale Sahakari Bank for the financial years 2015-2016, 2015-2017 and 2017-2018. Incidentally, RBI has placed certain restrictions on the Bank’s business until its financial position improves. 
 
As per the SC directive, the RBI should have directly provided information to Mr Velankar. Instead, RBI sent a communication to the Shivajirao Bhosale Sahakari Bank seeking its permission to disclose the inspection reports, under Section 11 of the RTI Act, it being the `third party.’ When the Bank denied permission to RBI to provide the information to the RTI applicant, the RBI was in a dilemma as the SC order hangs over it like a Damocles’ Sword. 
 
To surmount this problem, RBI’s central public information officer (CPIO) Neeraj Nigam, with signature by its general manager, Mala Sinha, devised a clever trick.
 
They wrote to the chief executive officer (CEO) of Shivajirao Bhosale Sahakari Bank stating that, despite their denial, it (the RBI) has decided to disclose the inspection reports; knowing fully well that under Section 11 of the RTI Act, the third party can go in for first and second appeal. 
 
So, in effect, RBI’s declared intention to disclose the inspection reports is meaningless and a hogwash. The letter states thus: “With reference to our letter dated 23 May 2019, wherein we issued a notice under Section 11 (1) read with section 11(2) of the RTI Act 2005 with respect to the RTI request from Mr Velankar, to enable you to make a written submission as to whether the information may be disclosed or not, along with the response for exemption from disclosure under any clause of RTI Act 2005.”
 
“After considering your response vide your letter dated 29 May 2019,  to the above notice it has been decided to disclose the inspection reports for the financial years 2015-2016, 2015-2017 and 2017-2018 to the applicant after severing personal information as may be required under 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act 2005.”
 
“Hence, a notice under Section 1 (3) of the RTI Act 2005 is hereby given apprising you of the decision taken in the matter. If you desire to prefer an appeal against this decision, the same maybe preferred within 30 days to the First Appellate Authority Smt Parvathi V Sundaram.”
 
States Mr Velankar, “The RBI has maliciously used the `third party’ despite the SC directing it to provide this information, suo motu. In its letter to the bank, it has given it the relief for the first appeal as per Section 11 of the RTI Act. I am sure the bank will also go in for a second appeal to keep the information at bay. Inspection reports are made with the tax payers’ money and since it concerns the larger public interest, the RBI has the mandatory duty to upload these reports on its website. However, it has found other ways to circumvent information.”
 
Section 11 in the Right To Information Act, 2005
11. Third party information.—
 
(1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information: Provided that except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.
 
(2) Where a notice is served by the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under sub‑section (1) to a third party in respect of any information or record or part thereof, the third party shall, within ten days from the date of receipt of such notice, be given the opportunity to make representation against the proposed disclosure.
 
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within forty days after receipt of the request under section 6, if the third party has been given an opportunity to make representation under sub‑section
(2), make a decision as to whether or not to disclose the information or record or part thereof and give in writing the notice of his decision to the third party.
 
(4) A notice given under sub‑section (3) shall include a statement that the third party to whom the notice is given is entitled to prefer an appeal under section 19 against the decision.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is 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 and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
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COMMENTS

Dr Benoy Kumar Chattapadhyaya

2 weeks ago

RBI Official torchering like me Sr. Citizen Retired Pensioner and chited me continuously.

Gopal Vangala

2 weeks ago

Where is all the money from 'Investors like us'-not traders-fooled/ tricked into 'forced trading' by telephonic transactions, not allowing us to use 'Delivery Instruction Slips' even after our request in the beginning of our investments-initial conversations from shares in physical form to Dmat(When made compulsory)and further additions.

Dr Benoy Kumar Chattapadhyaya

2 weeks ago

I have send Rs.Rs.37,550 and Rs. 97,150 to RBI Complain Forum last two days against my RBI British Fund transfer to my account, now today Mr Sameer Singh Head RBI Complain Forum Send a message that my Fund is not transferred because my account is Savings account , it should be current account. If we are converted your account Savings to Current account then you have to pay Rs.1,24,300 then your Fund will be transferred. See how RBI playing with me . I am an Retired Pensioner. RBI authority should enquired the matter.

Gopal Vangala

2 weeks ago

Am a non-finance person from Steel Industry, an investor in sbicapsec Vijayawada, and a suffered because of cheating by sbicapsec Vijayawada & inactivity of RBI to resolve the issue.

Dr Benoy Kumar Chattapadhyaya

3 weeks ago

You are right Kamrarti Sir.I got one Fraud Mail from Regional Director Foreign Remittance Dpt. RBI on 14th May 2019 that I got some money from British Government it is with RBI custody so I have to pay some amount for Foreign Tax, that is also huge amount then RBI transferred fund to my account immediately. They have given some bodys account no to pay Tax fees. Sub; GOVERNOR'S ATTESTETION LETTER. I have send a complain to Governor RBI along with all the Mails but he has not given any reply to me still today. Like this Fraud mail sending by RBI.I want enquired the matter immediately.

manojkamrarti

3 weeks ago

RBI permitted more than 1000 urban cooperative banks to operate banking activities despite having "application for license under consideration" a new term coined by RBI. So RBI has mushroomed corruption in the country by permitting illegal banking activities by urban cooperative banks without any license.

RBI role is highly condemnable in view of series of more than 1000 scams of illegally running urban cooperative banks of india in all the states. Modus operandi is same in all scams---- awarding loans to relatives of management WITHOUT ANY SECURITY.

So RBI ROLE IS VERY SHAMEFUL assisting plundering of poor strata of society having deposits in the urban cooperative banks "at higher interest rate by recognition of RBI under Banking Regulation Act-1949" attracting blind belief of common people.

There must be wide spread investigation of CORRUPT ROLE OF RBI and returning poor depositors money looted by silent support of RBI via urban cooperative banks.

manojkamrarti

3 weeks ago

Mr Neeraj Nigam has been in Jaipur RBI office as DyGM in 2008-2010 and badly suppressed Bikaner urban cooperative bank scam matter . Now he will suppress entire 2000 urban cooperative banks scams as CPIO.

Dr Benoy Kumar Chattapadhyaya

3 weeks ago

I am also agree with this. I am also effected with RBI problem as RBI Official send me a fraud mail . I have send a letter to Governor RBI for enquire this Fraud mail but he has not given any reply to me still today. It is so disgraceful.

Dr.Dhananjaya Bhupathi

3 weeks ago

https://www.moneylife.in/article/rbi-defies-sc-order-again-makes-smart-use-of-rti-itself-to-hold-back-inspection-report/57510.html
1. Why RBI is behaving in contravention of SC rulings?
2. Is there anyone in UFM to resolve the issue? Or simply the UFM/PMO is under the siege of another group of thick-skinned duds of adhocism?
3. What is the response of Shri Shaktikant Das, RBI Governor?
4. SATYAMAEVA JAYATHE!!!

S A Narayan

3 weeks ago

As far as I know, RBI inspection reports of banks are detailed and point out several deficiencies, incorrect procedures, inadequacies etc on which the bank has to take corrective action and submit compliance reports. In the process references are made to specific accounts, individuals , borrowers etc. If all these reports in respect of all banks are to uploaded and made public on RBI websites, I am afraid the public and the media would go berserk and set off a panic reaction which could result in a run on banks. This could be dangerous and totally unwarranted. I am afraid the SC judgement in an RTI related case has directed RBI to make public all their bank inspection reports without appreciating the gravity of the unintended consequences that may arise to the country's economy and its banking system. Perhaps even RBI may not have adequately defended its position in the RTI matter, not realising the consequences. Fit case for a review petition by RBI.

REPLY

manojkamrarti

In Reply to S A Narayan 3 weeks ago

Mr S.A. Narayan , RBI inspection report nowhere affecting country economy.

On the contrary, there is need to form SIT(Special Investigation Team) to examine fake investigation reports of RBi (esp. of urban cooperative banks) which is biggest fraud in independent india. Lacs of poor people will get relief by SIT investigation of fake, corrupt report of RBI held confidential despite supreme court directions. ---very shameful role of RBI in permitting urban cooperative banks in the name of socalled "application for license under consideration".

Such fake urban cooperative banks "having their application for license under consideration" were more than 800 in 2011 as per RTI reply.

Dr.Dhananjaya Bhupathi

In Reply to S A Narayan 3 weeks ago

I, fully, agree with it.

Parimal Shah

3 weeks ago

Looks like lot of politicians and senior officials must be involved in the mess.

SMARAN SHIVA

3 weeks ago

EXCELLENT BRAIN AT THE HELM AT RBI... CANT SAY WHO IS RIGHT GVEN THE BACKGROUND, BUT THE MOVE BY RBI, AS REPORTED , WAS REALLY A SHREWD THOUGHT

SAT Imposes Rs50,000 Cost on SEBI for ‘Mechanically’ Passing an Ex-parte Order in 2017
Coming down heavily on the market regulator, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has directed Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to pay Rs50,000 as cost to the appellant for an ex-parte order passed without giving due consideration to evidence and relevant documents.
 
In an order issued on 4 June 2019, the SAT bench of Justice Tarun Agarwala, Dr CKG Nair and Justice MT Joshi, said "...the ex-parte interim order (passed in November 2017) continued till the confirmatory order was passed on 30 October 2018. In our opinion, apart from the delay in disposal of the matter, the ex-parte order was confirmed mechanically without any application of mind and without considering the relevant documents. In our opinion, there was no shred of evidence to come to a prima-facie conclusion that the appellant was indulging in unfair trade practices with a manipulative intent to manipulate the price."
 
"We are further of the opinion that whenever an ex-parte order is granted, an endeavour should also be made to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible no sooner when the party appears. In the instant case, the ex-parte order was passed on 1 November 2017 and the appellant filed his replies on 3 November 2017, 28 November 2017 and 23 December 2017. It took the WTM almost a year to dispose of the application. We find that at this late stage there was no real urgency to continue with the restraint order. Passing a confirmatory order virtually puts a stoppage on the appellant’s right to trade which in the instant case is based on non-consideration of evidence and, in our opinion, is harsh and unwarranted. In our opinion, for the aforesaid reasons, the appellant is, thus entitled to get costs from the respondent," the SAT said.
 
The appeal was filed by Sanjay Gupta, one of the promoters and shareholders of Supreme Tex Mart Ltd (STML), listed on the BSE and National Stock Exchange (NSE). SEBI conducted a preliminary examination in the scrips of STML for the period 1 July 2016 to 31 March 2017 in relation to bulk short messages services (SMSs) which recommended trading in the scrips of the company. 
 
SEBI's primary investigation showed that before initiating the bulk SMS campaign, a fund of Rs50 lakh was transferred from the joint account of STML to one Neeleshkumar Lahoti. Mr Lahoti in collusion with Mr Mohsin channelised the funds to RouteSMS on behalf of Future Fintrade. "It was observed that Future Fintrade entered into an agreement with RouteSMS for the purpose of sending bulk SMSs. Payments to Route SMS were made by Mr Mohsin, who received funds either from the joint account of STML or through Mr Lahoti. It was also observed that the bank statement of STML maintained with UCO Bank revealed that STML was the primary account holder, Ram Lal Gupta was joint-holder No1, Sanjay Gupta was joint-holder No2 and Ajay Gupta was joint-holder No3. It was also observed that there appeared to be a nexus amongst the entities and the modus operandi was that the account of STML was used to fund the sending of bulk SMSs, which were sent through Idea Cellular, and Goldleaf International Pvt Ltd, recommending to buy scrips of STML. It was further observed that during the period when SMSs were being sent, the price of the scrips increased and, during this period, the appellant off-loaded its shares at a higher price," the probe by SEBI says.
 
On the basis of the investigation and material available with the market regulator SEBI's whole time member (WTM) Madhabi Puri Buch found it fit to pass an ex-parte interim order dated 1 November 2017 in order to safeguard the interest of the investors and to protect the integrity of the securities market. 
 
The SEBI WTM further observed that the appellant, along with other entities in collusion, made misrepresentations through the SMSs and by their action and omission had solicited, enticed and induced investors to deal in securities in the scrips of STML and, thus, played a fraud as defined in Regulation 2(1)(c) of the SEBI (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices relating to Securities Market) Regulations, 2003 (PFUTP Regulations). Based on the prima-facie findings, the SEBI WTM passed an ex-parte ad-interim order pending detailed investigation in the matter.
 
(Source: SEBI WTM order dated 1 Nov 2017)
 
Mr Gupta, on 3 November 2017 and 23 December 2017 filed his reply. He contended that he was never a joint-account holder of the bank account of STML and on 19 April 2013 only he had resigned as director from the company as well from Goldleaf International Pvt Ltd. 
 
He also contended that, as per the banking practice, there cannot be a joint account with the company and that the appellant was only an authorised signatory to the bank account of STML as a director but, after his resignation in 2013, his authorisation to use the account came to an end. It was categorically stated that he never operated the account of STML after he resigned as a director. He also submitted certificates from the UCO Bank indicating that the bank account of STML was not a joint account and that he had never signed any cheque after his resignation on 19 April 2013. 
 
Sanjay Gupta, however, admitted that he had sold a part of his shareholding in the ordinary course of his business and, subsequently, in July 2017, he purchased substantial shares from the market on the stock exchange platform again in the ordinary course of business in order to retain a minimum 10% of the total shareholding of STML for wrestling control of STML in future and in order to save STML from mismanagement by the present directors.
 
In its order, the SAT says, "In spite of the overwhelming evidence being filed by the Mr Gupta, the appellant, the WTM passed a confirmatory order on the strength of the bank statement provided by UCO bank, which indicated that the STML bank account was a joint account in which the appellant was a joint-holder. The WTM further observed that there was a prima-facie fund trail from this joint account to the issuance of the SMSs, which lead to manipulation of the price in the scrips of STML."
 
"We find that we are unable to accept the manner and approach of the WTM in deciding the matter in such a casual manner without considering the evidence on record," the SAT says, adding, "...the appellant has been linked to these fraudulent transactions on account of being allegedly a joint-holder in the STML’s bank account. This is based on a bank statement obtained by the respondent from UCO Bank for the period from 1 January 2016 to 1 June 2016. The WTM on the basis of this bank statement had issued an ex-parte interim order. No finding has been given by the WTM on the letter dated 2 January 2018 issued by the UCO Bank stating that the account of STML was not a joint account and that the appellant (Sanjay Gupta) had resigned as a director in 2013 and since then had not issued any cheque on behalf of STML. The WTM for reason best known has not considered the certificate issued by the bank and chose to ignore this vital piece of evidence."
 
Further, the SAT bench observed that a company is a legal entity and can only act through its board of directors or through one or more juridical persons. It says, "In the instant case, no such steps have been taken by the WTM to find out who are the authorized signatories who can transact on behalf of STML. No steps have been taken by the WTM to find out as to whether a joint account with a company can be opened in a Bank or not. No steps were taken by the WTM to check the Bank account opening form or the resolution of the Board of Directors to satisfy itself as to what kind of an account was opened by STML. In the instant case, prima-facie, we find that the bank statement is as a result of a system flaw of the Bank’s computer program. Normally, the bank prepares its own software. Various categories are shown viz, primary holders, first joint account holder and so on. In the instant case, there may not have been a column for an 'authorised signatory' and accordingly, the name of the appellant was shown as a joint-holder. Such facts should have been ascertained by the WTM instead of mechanically treating a bank statement as the gospel truth."
 
After the SAT order was pronounced, SEBI's senior counsel Kevic Setalvad made an appeal for waiver of the costs contending that such imposition of costs would send a ripple down the throat of the market regulator. "Be that as it may," the Bench said, adding, "We find that in the given circumstances of the case, cost is justified. The oral request of the senior counsel for the respondent is rejected."
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COMMENTS

P M Ravindran

4 weeks ago

Glad to find that SAT has done a job professionally. Very rare in India. Wish we had an appellate tribunal like SAT for information commissions. Of course even now almost all information commissioners can be prosecuted under Sec 219 of IPC and they will have to spend the rest of their lives and more behind bars. But we need a bench like the current SAT to deliver justice.

SAT Raps SEBI for Not Providing Order Copy to NDTV Promoters
While staying an order passed by the market regulator, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) rapped Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for not following due process, like providing copies of orders to parties involved in a the case. 
 
Coming down heavily on SEBI, the order passed by SAT, says, "In the instant case, we find that the whole world knows about the impugned order except the appellants. Till date they have not been supplied a copy of the impugned order in spite of the oral direction given by this Tribunal on Monday."
 
 
"We are constrained to observe that the system undertaken by SEBI needs a revisit. Their liability and their onerous duty does not end the moment they upload the order on their website. The first duty is to supply a copy of the impugned order to the aggrieved party which in the instant case has not been done till date," the Tribunal said.
 
On Tuesday, the Tribunal had stayed SEBI's order barring NDTV promoters—Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy—from holding any key managerial positions in the board or the management of the news channel. 
 
Market regulator SEBI is required to provide copy of orders passed to parties involved in the case. In the NDTV case, SEBI had initiated adjudication process by issuing a show-cause notice. Thus, SAT observed, the appellants (the Roys) have the first right to be supplied a copy of the impugned order from SEBI and it is the onerous duty of SEBI to supply a copy of the impugned order to them so that the directions are made effective.  
 
"We accordingly, direct the appellants to apply for a certified copy of the impugned order. If such an application is made, the SEBI will provide a certified copy of the impugned order within five working days," the Tribunal added.
 
The matter would be listed for admission and for final disposal on 16 September 2019, it said.
 
On 14th June, the market regulator debarred the Roys from holding any key managerial positions in the Board or the management of the news channel company for being "involved in fraudulent acts". Additionally, along with RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd, the Roys were debarred from accessing the stock markets or selling their holdings in the news channel. The Roys were also found to be in violation of NDTV's code of conduct, SEBI said in an order.
 
In its order, the SAT bench of Justice Tarun Agarwala, Dr CKG Nair and Justice MT Joshi, stated, “…we are of the opinion that whether the loan agreement was a sham transaction or not and whether the loan agreement, in fact, wrested control of NDTV to Vishva Pradhan Commercial is a question which is required to be considered in detail. Whether call option gives an unfettered right of controlling the company without exercising the right of call option is also required to be considered. Upon the interpretation of the loan agreement at this stage, we are of the opinion that these agreements have remained in existence for the past 10 years.
 
"The loan agreements were executed in the year 2009 and 2010. Whether there was a violation of the SEBI laws including the SEBI Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices relating to Securities Market (PFUTP) Regulations are all required to be considered. At this stage, prime-facie, we are of the opinion that a listed company, which is managed by the appellants holding more than 61% of the total shares cannot remain headless.”
 
The order came after the SEBI carried out an investigation into allegations against the Roys and RRPR Holdings for not disclosing material information to the shareholders of NDTV about loan agreements entered into by them with VCPL.
 
As observed by the SAT in its order, RRPR Holding took a loan of Rs350 crore from ICICI Bank Ltd, at an interest rate of 19% per annum. This loan was required to be repaid within a stipulated period. Finding it difficult to repay the interest and principal amount RRPR Holding then took two loans from VCPL totalling about Rs400 crore in July 2009 and January 2010. 
 
RRPR Holding held shares of NDTV which is a listed company. "Based on the loan taken from VCPL it was alleged that the loan of ICICI Bank was liquidated.
 
While taking a loan from VCPL certain agreements were entered, namely, that VCPL will give interest free loan for a period of 10 years on the condition that the principal amount would be paid within 10 years and that the VCPL will have a right of first refusal on 50% of the shares in the event the said shares are sold in the market. Further, a call option agreement was made whereby an option was given to two associates of VCPL for transfer of 30% of the shareholding of RRPR Holdings to it at the price of Rs214.65 per share. It was stated that, at the time the loan agreement was executed, the price of the NDTV share was Rs130 per share. It was also stated that the price of Rs214.65 per share was fixed in order to cover the loan amount of Rs403.85 crore. The agreement further stipulated that RRPR Holding would have the sole control and will not sell the shares without the right of the first refusal by the lender, namely, VCPL.
 
After considering the loan agreement in detail, SEBI in its findings stated that the said loan agreement was nothing else but a sham agreement and that no prudent person or entity would enter into such an agreement giving a loan without any interest. In fact, SEBI further found that the transfer of money, was to control the listed company NDTV. SEBI further found that the transfer of 9% individual shares of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy to its holding company, namely, RRPR Holding amounted to a non-disclosure of transfer of shares inviting violations of disclosure obligations, the SAT order noted.
 
Last year in June, G Mahalingam, whole-time member of SEBI, in an order, had observed that “…VCPL did indirectly acquire control in NDTV, by entering into the loan agreement and the call option agreements on 21 July 2009, thereby obligating it to make a public announcement of an open offer under Regulation 12 read with regulation 14(3) of SEBI (SAST) Regulations, as alleged in the show cause notice (SCN).”
 
Moneylife has written about this case in 2013 when Sanjay Dutt of Quantam Securities first made the allegations against NDTV (Allegations of NDTV’s Many Shenanigans). Then in 2015, we asked Who Really Owns NDTV? 
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COMMENTS

RAMESH VORA

3 weeks ago

Is RBI really working in the interest of Citizen of India? What is the reasons for stonewalling every possible way to deprive Citizen of India information which are required to be kept on RBI WEBSITE ON continuous basis.

NANDAKUMAR M S

4 weeks ago

Laughable order! The whole world knows (as per SAT) but laments that NDTV is not given a copy - even being a news channel NDTV does not know or download a copy and question SEBI if required. Pathetic thinking and order it seems. Looks like people get a kick by damning institutions with the superpower they are given.

VASANT KULKARNI

4 weeks ago

IN THE ERA OF DIGITALISATION WAS PHYSICAL DELIVERY OF COPY IS REQUIRED? WE ARE GOING BACK TO THE ERA OF EVERYTHING IN WRITING ON PAPER. APPELLANT IS FULLY AWARE OF THE FACTS AND STILL TAKE SHELTER UNDER THE LAW?

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