Skip to main content

24 PSU banks dealt with just 7% of RTI pleas by 1,903 CIC public authorities

By Venkatesh Nayak*
In May 2014, an expert committee under the Chairpersonship of Mr. P. J. Nayak submitted a report to the Reserve Bank of India, reviewing the governance of boards of banks- both public and private in India. The committee blamed the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) as a major constraint on the governance of public sector banks. The Committee believed that the coverage of public sector banks (PS Banks) under the RTI Act severely inhibited their ability to compete with their rivals in the private sector. This impressionistic view was not supported by any credible evidence or facts and figures in the Committee’s report. Although the Central Government has not acted on this recommendation yet, it has not conclusively rejected this recommendation either.
Ever since, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has conducted an assessment of the workload of RTI on public sector banks and their treatment of RTI applications year after year to lay bare the trends in their receipt and disposal.
The RTI application statistics of 24 PS Banks and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) published in the Annual Reports of the Central Information Commission (CIC) over the last three years (2013-16) are analysed in this note. These statistics were provided to the CIC by the banks themselves under Section 25 of the RTI Act. Statistics relating to number of offices of Banks and the volume of their net non-performing assets have been sourced from the RBI’s website.
Our major findings are given below (for tabulated representation of the relevant statistics gleaned from the published sources mentioned above click HERE):
The 24 PS Banks dealt with a total of 82,102 RTI applications during the year 2015-16 (including the backlog from 2014-15). This amounts to about 7% of the 11.65 lakh RTI applications (includes the backlog from 2014-15) reported by the 1,903 public authorities registered with the CIC.
If the backlog from 2014-15 is deducted from the total figure of 82,102, the 24 PS Banks received a total of 74,277 RTI applications in 2015-16. This amounts to 7.60% of the 9.76 lakh RTI applications CIC (after excluding the backlog accumulated from 2014-15) received by the 1,903 public authorities registered with the CIC.
The 24 PS Banks accounted for almost 40% of the 2.06 lakh RTI applications dealt with by the Ministry of Finance (including the backlog from 2014-15). If the backlog from 2014-15 is deducted, the RTI applications received by the PS Banks constitute almost 48% of the 1.55 lakh RTI applications received by the Ministry of Finance in 2015-16.
Compared to 2014-15, when these 24 PS Banks dealt with 79,148 RTI applications (including the backlog from 2013-14), the RTI applications they dealt with in 2015-16 has increased by 3.6%.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) dealt with 16.6% more RTI applications (50,448) in 2015-16 as compared to the previous year. However, its backlog from 2014-15 (38,884 RTI applications) was more than three times the number of RTI applications received in 2015-16 (see Table below). Among the 24 PS Banks, Bank of India (BoI) had the highest backlog of 6,653 RTI applications from 2014-15. Surely, all these RTI applications may not have been submitted in the last month of the reporting year (i.e., March, 2015). It may be noted that this backlog is from the pre-demonetisation period. So their preoccupation with pulling out 86% of the total currency that was in circulation in the country and the subsequent remonetisation efforts, post-November, 2016 cannot be a valid explanation for the backlog that existed in April, 2015. In its Annual Report, the CIC does not record any comment on this trend of piling up of RTI applications by RBI and BoI.
As has been the trend in previous years, with 25,345 RTI applications the State Bank of India (SBI) received the largest number of information requests in 2015-16. This amounts to more than a third (34.12%) of the RTI applications received by all 24 PS Banks put together. With 8,181 RTI applications Punjab National Bank (PNB) received the 2nd highest number of information requests in 2015-16 and the Bank of Baroda occupies third place with 5,073 RTI applications received during this period. In 2014-15 PNB occupied the third position after Bank of India which had received 9,080 RTI applications in 2014-15. It looks like more than two-thirds of these RTI applications had been pending with BoI at the end of the reporting year, 2014-15.
Five PS Banks, namely, Andhra Bank, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Travancore and United Bank of India did not report any backlog of RTI applications from 2014-15.
Among the 24 PS Banks, at 40.15%, IDBI Bank Ltd. logged the biggest increase in the proportion of RTI applications dealt with in 2015-16 as compared to the previous year. Bank of Maharashtra clocked an increase of 37.33% followed by Indian Bank with a 12.58% increase reported during the same period, taking 2nd and 3rd places respectively. 10 of the 24 PS Banks reported a drop in the number of RTI applications dealt with in 2015-16. These are: Andhra Bank (-16.49%), Vijaya Bank (-14.80%), UCO Bank (-12.93%), State Bank of Mysore (-10.85%), State Bank of Travancore (-9.97%), Central Bank of India (-6.33%), Corporation Bank (-4.29%), Indian Overseas Bank (-1.32%), Punjab & Sind Bank (-0.23%) and State Bank of Hyderabad (-6.99%). In 2014-15 also, a similar number of Banks reported a decline in the number of RTI applications dealt with as compared to the previous reporting year of 2013-14.
Interestingly, despite reporting a decline in the number of information requests dealt with in 2014-15 as compared to 2013-14, seven PS Banks namely, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Canara Bank, Indian Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India and Union Bank of India reported more RTI applications in 2015-16. The numbers have gone up again after recording a fall in 2014-15.
The number of RTI applications has shown a continuous declining trend with regard to the Central Bank of India and the United Bank of India since 2013-14. United Bank of India reported the least number of RTI applications received- 135, in 2015-16. This is a drop of 79% from the total number of information requests received in 2014-15.
Apart from reporting the least number of RTI applications in 2015-16, United Bank of India also rejected nearly 2 of every 3 information requests (65.2%). The proportion of rejection has increased ten-fold in 2015-16 whereas this Bank had reported the lowest proportion of rejection consecutively for two years since 2013- less than 6.5% per year. Whether these figures are correct or if there is any error in reporting to the CIC is difficult to gauge solely on the basis of the Annual Report.
As compared to 2014-15, rejection rates have gone up in 50% of the 24 PS Banks, namely, Allahabad Bank, Andhra Bank, Central Bank of India, Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank Ltd. Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, Syndicate Bank and UCO Bank. Andhra Bank (56%) and State Bank of Hyderabad (51.9%) rejected every second RTI application dealt with in 2015-16. Rejection was as high as 49.6% in Corporation Bank, 48.1% in Canara Bank, 43.9% in Indian Overseas Bank, 38.5% in Bank of Maharashtra, 36.3% in State Bank of Mysore and 36% in Allahabad Bank (see table HERE).
However, the proportion of rejections has come down significantly in the case of four banks. For example, Vijaya Bank has halved the number of rejections in 2014-15 to 7% while State Bank of Patiala had reduced it by 7.1%, Punjab and Sind Bank by 6.8% and Bank of Maharashtra by 5% in 2015-16 as compared to the previous year. The proportion of rejections has come down steadily in the case of RBI also, since 2013-14 from 3.7% to 1.3%. This phenomenon requires deeper study. In his inaugural address delivered at the 10th Annual RTI Convention, organized by the Central Information Commission at New Delhi on 16th October, 2015, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India had recommended that public authorities examine the nature and scope of RTI applications they receive to ascertain the types of information sought frequently and consider the possibility of disclosing such information proactively so that the number of RTI applications is reduced and consequently, the proportion of rejection also falls. Unfortunately neither the CIC nor the Department of Personnel and Training- the nodal department for implementing the RTI Act nor the Ministry of Finance have taken up any such study to examine the high rejection rate in the PS Banks. Initiating such a study would be in accordance with the letter and spirit of Section 4(2) of the RTI Act which requires all public authorities to work towards reducing people’s need to seek information formally, by making voluntary disclosure of a wealth of information.
As regards the RTI load on banks, Bank of India averaged at more than 2 RTI applications per office (up from 1.79 in 2014-15). PNB, SBBJ and SBI averaged more than 1 RTI application per office, while the remaining banks averaged less than 1 RTI application per office in 2015-16. So the RTI statistics submitted by the banks to the CIC do not prove the “constraint theory” regarding their governance which was looked upon approvingly by the P J Nayak Committee in 2014. Current RTI statistics reported to the CIC do not indicate the degree of concentration of RTI applications between branch offices of these Banks. It is quite possible that some of the branch offices may be receiving more RTI applications than others. It is important to conduct a third party assessment of the spread of RTI applications between bank branches and then identify measures to assist those receiving a large number of RTI applications to deal with them speedily.
No correlation – whether positive or negative is apparent between the volume of non-performing assets (NPAs) and the increase or decrease in the number of RTI applications received or rejected by the PS Banks. 13 of the 24 PS Banks reported a rise of more than 90% in their net NPAs during 2015-16, the highest being 69% reported by Vijaya Bank. However, a mere examination of RTI statistics reported to the CIC will not reveal much about the connection between rising NPAs and the pattern of information requests received by the PS Banks. 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. Moreover, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had directed the Reserve Bank of India to disclose information about NPAs to RTI applicants in the matter of Reserve Bank of India vs Jayantilal N Mistry and related cases [Transferred Cases (Civil) Nos. 91-101, judgement dated 16/12/2016]. Whether the directives of the Apex Court are being complied with or not can be ascertained only by examining the RTI applications and the responses of each PS Bank.

*Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi. Click HERE for for tabulated representation of the relevant statistics

Comments

TRENDING

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Hindutva patriotism: State-sponsored effort to construct religion-based national identity

By Harasankar Adhikari Rabindranath Tagore (1908) said, "Patriotism can’t be our final spiritual shelter. "I will not buy glass for a diamond, and I will never let patriotism triumph over humanity as long as I live." Tagore’s view stands in sharp contrast to what we are witnessing today, when patriotism means religious differences between the majority (Hindu) and minority (Muslim). Our secular nation is gradually disobeying its secular nature and it is being patronised by political leaders and their narrow politics. India’s unique character of ‘unity in diversity’ is trying to be saffronised. Hindu extremism (Hindutvavadis) generates a culture of religious intolerance. Democratic India is based upon the ideology of equality of all. This nation is based upon different foundations than most of those which went before it. Its legitimacy lies in its being able to satisfy its various component communities that their interests will be safeguarded by the Indian state