The RBI in response to an application under RTI refused to disclose details of the cash supplied to various bank branches since demonetization. RBI also says it does not have any information on the total amount of cash supplied to banks since November 10th, 2016.
The Income Tax department kept reporting various cases of seizure of the new currency notes amounting to crores of rupees. The needle of suspicion was on various banks with reports of fraud from multiple places. All this was happening when common citizens were told that there was not enough cash supplied to bank branches by the RBI. Factly filed an application under RTI with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to know the details about the amount of cash supplied to various bank branches since November 10th 2016. The RBI refused to share information on the amount of cash supplied to individual bank branches and chest branches while it said it does not have any information on the total amount of cash supplied to various scheduled commercial banks.
What was asked?
The following information was sought from the RBI
- Amount of Cash supplied to every branch of Scheduled Commercial Banks in India from the various currency chests from 10th November, 2016 till date.
- Amount of Cash supplied to every currency chest branch of Scheduled Commercial Banks in India from the RBI from 10th November, 2016 till date.
- Details and copies of all relevant rules/documents governing the amount of cash supply to various bank branches from currency chests.
- Total amount of cash supplied to scheduled commercial banks in India from November 10th till date.
In its response, the RBI refused to provide information for the first two queries citing Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI act.
Even more shocking was RBI’s response to the last query. RBI, it seems does not have any information on the total amount of cash supplied to the various scheduled commercial banks since November 10th. How on earth was RBI issuing new currency to various banks without keeping any account is a million-dollar question.
Would this information would endanger someone’s life?
Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI act exempts the following information from disclosure, ‘information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes’.
RBI had used the same pretext before as well when it was asked about the stake holders consulted before the demonetization decision was taken.
But how would disclosing the amount of cash supplied to various bank branches and chest branches would endanger someone’s life is beyond any reason. If anything, disclosing day wise cash supply information to various bank branches and chest branches and putting such data in the public domain (in open formats) would immensely help the government. Many data enthusiasts could help the government with important leads on any anomalies in the cash supply. By stonewalling most RTI applications on demonetization, the RBI is further damaging its reputation.