RBI’s response to RTI applications prove that it’s trying to evade any question on Demonetization

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In yet another shocking response to an application under RTI, RBI refused to provide information on supply & indent of new notes. However, the appellate authority of RBI had a different opinion.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been denying information in response to most RTI applications that sought information on various issues related to demonetization. Most applications have been rejected citing various clauses in Section 8 of the RTI act that spell out various exemptions.  The response to various applications also prove that it’s trying to evade any question on Demonetization.

Supply & Indent information of some notes is confidential while others is not

Factly filed an application under the RTI seeking the following information from the RBI.

  • Details of the indent & supply of legal tender of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 that were withdrawn recently with the various printing presses from April 2016 till date.
  • Details of the indent & supply of legal tender of Rs 100 with the various printing presses from April 2016 till date.
  • Details of the indent & supply of new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 that were introduced recently with the various printing presses from April 2016 till date.
  • Details of the information available with RBI with respect to the printing defects and other defects in the new legal tender of Rs 500 & Rs 2000 released recently.
  • Details action taken by the RBI with respect to the printing defects and other defects in the new legal tender of Rs 500 & Rs 2000 released recently.

In response to the first two queries, RBI mentioned that the information is available on its website, in the annual reports section. But the latest available annual report of the RBI is for the year 2015-16 which has details only up to March 2016. In the RTI application, it was very clearly mentioned that the information sought is from April 2016 onwards. Was this intentionally overlooked by the PIO?

RBI’s responses to Demonetization_1

RBI’s response to the 3rd query was strange to say the least. The 3rd query was very similar to the previous two queries except that it concerns the new notes. To this, the RBI cites the exemption clause that relates to safety, security & economic interests of the country.

RBI’s responses to Demonetization_2

In response to the last query, the RBI responded by saying that it is not information as defined in Section 2(f) of the RTI act. This is again an attempt to evade the question, since the RBI’s spokesperson was on record when she told the media that notes with printing defects might have got released and that there is no need to worry. How did the spokesperson make such a statement without having any information?

RBI’s responses to Demonetization_3

The Appellate Authority of RBI has a different opinion

Factly filed an appeal with RBI’s appellate authority opposing the contention of the PIO. The appellate authority seems to have understood the application and the information sought better than the PIO.

For the first two queries, the appellate authority accepted Factly’s contention and directed the PIO to provide the information available with him.

RBI’s responses to Demonetization_4

For the third query where the PIO cited an exemption clause to deny information, the appellate authority once again accepted Factly’s contention that the nature of information sought is similar and directed the PIO to revisit the exemption.

RBI’s responses to Demonetization_5

The appellate authority also directed the PIO to verify the records to check if any documented information is available on the defective notes.

What does this tell us?

RBI’s response to this particular RTI application and many others have proved beyond doubt that the institution is trying to evade any question on demonetization. Nothing justifies the casual and callous manner in which the exemption clauses are being used by the RBI to reject various information requests made by citizens.

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