The State Bank of India (SBI) and HDFC Bank on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) directive which states that lenders must provide financially sensitive data under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The two banks fear that the RBI directive could prove to be detrimental to their business and also compromise the confidentiality of their customers' information. Although the two lenders sought the direction against RBI, it was aimed at the top court's order that permitted disclosing such data. The SC had earlier restrained the central bank from disclosure under the RTI Act.
"In view of the judgment in Jayantilal N Mistry case, the RBI is seeking disclosure of confidential and sensitive information of the applicant bank, including information of its employees and its customers, purportedly under the Right to Information Act, 2005, which are otherwise exempt under the provisions of Section 8 of said Act," the SBI, through advocate Sanjay Kapur, said, the Economic Times reported.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared on behalf of SBI and HDFC Bank, told an SC bench comprising Justices L N Rao and Aniruddha Bose that disclosing sensitive information such as inspection reports, risk assessment reports and annual financial inspection reports of banks would make the lenders vulnerable to rivals.
The competitors, they added, could potentially exploit the RTI Act to extract the information regarding the trade secrets and internal strengths of other successful banks.
The SC had earlier restrained RBI from divulging such sensitive information under the RTI Act. However, that interim order got washed away due to the apex court's April 28 order in which it refused to review the Jayantilal N Mistry verdict.