The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 18 , 2017

Cloak on defaulters

New Delhi, July 17: The Reserve Bank of India today told the Supreme Court that it was not in favour of publishing the list of loan defaulters who owed public sector banks Rs 500 crore or more because such disclosure might involve the statutory, contractual and fiduciary rights of the defaulters.

Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for the Reserve Bank, argued that the grant of loans was covered by various statutes, including the RBI Act, and governed by contractual obligations.

"It is extremely necessary to keep these names confidential due to their fiduciary relationship," Gupta told the bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, which is hearing a plea from the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation.

The central bank was responding to a suggestion from the court that the list of defaulters to the tune of Rs 500 crore and above be made public because the loans were disbursed with the taxpayer's money.

The Reserve Bank has already furnished the list in a sealed cover to the court. It had earlier argued that public disclosure of the names would hurt the business climate in the country and endanger the jobs of thousands working in these entities.

Khehar, while directing the Reserve Bank to file an affidavit on the subject, today asked solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar to take instructions from the government whether such disclosure could be made in the light of the central bank's objections.

Kumar told the court that the government had set up a five-member committee to look into the matter and was examining its report.

Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the petitioner, argued that since the central bank was covered under the Right to Information Act, the list of defaulters should be disclosed.

He urged the court to direct the Reserve Bank to reveal the names in the public interest.

The bench posted the matter for final hearing after four weeks.

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