The State Bank Of India has declined to reveal details of its board meeting in which loans were sanctioned to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, claiming that it could impede probe, an activist said on Monday.
Activist Anil Galgali, who had sought the information under Right To Information Act on the SBI’s board meeting, has been spurned by the bank as it may lead to future hurdles for nabbing Mallya or filing cases against the former chief of defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.
“My queries under the RTI pertained to the total quantum of loans extended to Mallya, the SBI board’s agenda, proposal, approvals and minutes of the meeting in which the loan was sanctioned,” Galgali said.
The SBI deputy general manager and public information officer of the Stressed Assets Management Branch said that the case is sub-judice, pending before an inquiry commission, and derived exemption from disclosure under the RTI Act’s Section 8(1)(h).
This section indicates that the information which could impede the process of investigations or apprehension or prosecution of offenders, can be declined.
Galgali found it surprising that the SBI has even refused to disclose the names of the directors who attended the board meeting in which Mallya’s loan proposals were finalised.
“It is important to also expose the people who helped defaulters like Mallya and for the SBI to provide details of its board meetings in which the loans were sanctioned,” Galgali added.
He has now filed a first appeal challenging the SBI’s response to his RTI query, arguing that since the meeting’s agenda, approval resolution and minutes are already circulated in the banks, it would not hamper the ongoing procedures.
“The SBI authorities are also equally responsible for the loss of public funds for sanctioning huge loans to such people and should be arrested and prosecuted,” Galgali added.