All the cooperative banks in Haryana would henceforth be considered to be public authority and thus come under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Haryana State Information Commission has held.
The decision was taken by the commission which constituted a larger bench comprising chief information commissioner Naresh Gulati and information commissioner Shiv Raman Gaur and Hemant Atri while deciding on as many as 13 applications filed against different cooperative banks seeking information. The commission also perused the judgment of October 7, 2013, of the Supreme Court passed in Thalappalam Service Coop Bank and others Vs State of Kerala and others prior to its decision.
The decision carries significance as there had been a large number of applicants seeking a variety of information relating to the cooperative banks though these banks held that they did not come in the ambit of the RTI Act as they do not fall under public authority.
The banks also maintained that since they were not run or financed by the state government and had board of directors, hence the government had only limited regulatory role in these bodies. The issue had also come up before the Punjab and Haryana high court when a Kurukshetra lawyer sought information from Kurukshetra Central Cooperative Bank but was denied information on the same grounds.
The state information commission, which clubbed several applications of similar nature, held that the cooperative bank funds were raised by way of debentures and NABARD was the main source for funds, cooperative banks borrowings were even up to 90% which were guaranteed by state government for the payment of interests.
The commission thus held that it was the government which controlled the societies and the banks and so these came under the RTI Act ambit.