The Central Information Commission (CIC) disposed of an appeal of Shri Ramesh Ranchordas Joshi from Mumbai seeking information from the State Bank of India (Mumbai) regarding the basis of giving huge loans to Gautam Adani Group along with the evidence that the loan was connected to the coal mines of Australia.
The CPIO informed Ramesh Ranchordas that the information being sought was commercial information and held by them in trust for the third party and denied information u/s 8(1)(d) and (e) of the RTI Act.
Dissatisfied by this decision, Ramesh approached the first appellate authority (FAA) stating that larger public interest was involved in the matter as it was his duty to enquire into the documents submitted by the group, but the SBI had refused information u/s 8(1)(d) and (e).
The FAA, after considering the appeal upheld the CPIO’s decision.
Ramesh appealed before the commission, stating that he wanted the photocopies of the documents which had been submitted by the group for taking loan. He submitted that the Group had taken loans worth about Rs. 77,000
crores from various banks and the Group’s financial position was not sound, therefore, he wanted the information and explain his case during the hearing.
The SBI explained that the information being sought by Ramesh was related to a third party, which was held by them in fiduciary capacity and it also involved commercial confidence.
Therefore, apart from Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act also became applicable in the matter as the information sought was about third party’s loan account. Ramesh was not present during the hearing to point out any shortcoming in the decision.
Manjula Prashar, the Information Commissioner, disposing of the appeal held that: “The Commission observes that the appellant had sought information on the basis of giving loan to Gautam Adani Group and also information regarding the proof of the loan being connected with the coal mines of Australia. He had not mentioned any larger public interest in the matter let alone substantiate in his RTI application. Further he had not requested for any copies of documents while seeking information which was added in his second appeal. The Commission finds that the appellant had sought third party’s personal information held by the bank in fiduciary capacity involving commercial confidence. The Commission, therefore, holds that the information sought is exempt u/s 8(1)(d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act.”
Read the order here.