RTI rejection rate in most public sector banks increased in 2015-16
An analysis by a Delhi-based advocacy group of over 80,000 applications filed under the Right To Information Act with 24 major public sector undertaking (PSU) banks shows that their rate of rejection increased in 2015-16 as compared to the previous 3 years.
These 24 banks, which blamed the transparency law enacted in 2005 for governance constraints, accounted for about 40% of the RTI applications filed with the finance ministry. A Reserve Bank of India appointed PJ Nayak committee had cited RTI as one of the “constraints” on the governance in the banks.
Ventakesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Nayak studied the Central Information Commission’s annual report on RTI and found that as compared to 2014-15, the rejection rates have gone up in 50% of the public sector banks indicating that the banks were reluctant in providing the information sought.
In banks such as Andhra Bank and State Bank of Hyderabad, the rejection rate was higher than 50% of the applications received. For most banks, the average rejection rate was 20-30% much higher than average of 10% by the central government ministries.
Most of the applications received by the banks are related to non-performing assets, discrepancies in bank accounts of applicants and reasons for not opening an account.
“As regards the RTI load on public sector banks, the average applications received in a branch was not more than 2 thereby debunking the constraint theory projected by PJ Nayak committee,” Nayak said.
His theory is based on the argument that most banks have adequate staff to deal with rising RTI applications but were reluctant to provide information citing constraint on resources.
Nayak also found no co-relation between non-performing assets of the banks and the volume of the RTI applications filed, saying to establish the link a more detailed analysis was required.
The banks had opposed RTI applications seeking information about loan defaults citing privacy provisions but the Supreme Court in 2016 directed them to provide information citing larger public interest.
“A content analysis of the RTI applications received and the manner of their disposal by these banks will be necessary to establish any positive or negative correlation in this regard. Such a study is the urgent need of the hour,” Nayak said.
Among the banks, the State Bank of India received one-third of the total information requests followed by the Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda.