The seal of the Reserve Bank of India hangs on a wall at the headquarters in Mumbai. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

RBI Continues To Keep Annual Bank Inspection Reports Out Of RTI Reach

The Reserve Bank of India said it won’t share annual inspection reports of banks or any other financial institutions under the Right to Information Act despite a Supreme Court order to disclose such information.

The negative list on topics where the central bank won’t share information under the RTI includes information available with the banking supervision department regarding any annual inspection and supervisory or scrutiny reports, according to its fresh disclosure policy on April 30. The RBI won’t share information derived from such reports or any supervisory action taken based on the findings. Such information is exempt under Section 8(1) (h) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, the banking regulator said.

Also, the RBI won’t share any information regarding any inspection or scrutiny reports against a non-banking finance company, office notes of any regulatory meetings, including those of the central board of the regulator till it has devised a policy, information regarding any action taken against a bank beyond what the regulator discloses in its public statements and information with respect to banks obtained through investigations by any law enforcement agencies or other sources till finalisation of any action, according to its disclosure.

On April 26, the Supreme Court said the banking regulator will have to be fully compliant with its order. This was served as the last warning to the RBI as it had not complied with similar orders issued by the Supreme Court in 2015. The apex court, however, offered a small leeway to the RBI saying it will not be mandated to disclose information which may be detrimental to national safety.

Moneylife had first reported about the updated disclosure policy of the RBI on Wednesday.

The RBI conducts regular audits of banks’ books to look at various aspects of the banking industry, including asset quality, readiness of cybersecurity measures, processes followed by banks to continue their daily business as well as the quality of their information technology systems to avoid frauds.

RTI activists have been litigating against the disclosure policy of the regulator for years. The RBI, according to the activists, has not been compliant with the Supreme Court’s previous orders and that it was in contempt. In the order last month, the country’s highest judiciary had said any non-compliance by the RBI would be taken very seriously by the court.