Apex bank cites exemption under RTI, but former info commissioner disagrees
NEW DELHI Why were 1000 and 500 rupee notes outlawed by the government?
Nearly 50 days after the government announced that these notes would cease to be legal tender, the Reserve Bank of India feels that the reasons for the sudden announcement cannot be made public.
The monetary policy regulator also refused to give any details about the time it will take to replenish the currency notes. “The query is in the nature of seeking future date of an event which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” RBI said in response to an RTI query.
The apex bank refused to disclose reasons for the demonetisation of about Rs 20 lakh crore of currency in the country citing Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.
The section states, “Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”
The central bank also refused to explain as to how exemption would apply in the given case as the decision was already taken and there was no way that disclosure of information would have fit in any of the reasons cited in section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act.
“The clause of public interest would apply where exemption clause applies on the information sought by an applicant. In the present case, the information sought does not attract any exemption clause,” former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told PTI.
He said law is very clear that when a public authority rejects to disclose some information, it must give clear reasons as to how the exemption clause would apply in the given case.
Recently, it had refused to part with minutes of meetings held on the issue of demonetisation, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.
Responding to an RTI application filed by activist Venkatesh Nayak, RBI refused to disclose the minutes of the crucial meetings citing section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act.
No jail term for holding old notes
The government has made holding of more than 10 junked Rs 500/1000 notes a penal offence punishable with a minimum Rs 10,000 fine, but the harsher four-year jail term has been dropped.
The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, approved on Wednesday by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows individuals to hold no more than 10 notes of the old currency. It allows 25 such currencies to be held by research scholars.