The Central Information Commission has ruled that information pertaining to account details of bank customers is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act.
Upholding the decision of the Canara Bank, which refused to disclose the details about the Non Performing Accounts (NPA ) of other parties and the settlement that the Bank has entered with them, Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramaniam said that an information which is either a matter concerning commercial confidence or available to a person in fiduciary relationship or which is a personal information having no relationship with any public activity or interest, is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act.
The ruling came on the appeal of one Rajan Verma of Amritsar, who wanted detailed information about the compromise done by the Canara Bank in respect of Non-Performing Accounts (NPA) of all parties settled during the last five years by the Jalandhar branch of the Bank. The Bank refused to disclose this information on the grounds that the information is exempt from disclosure under Sections 8(1)(d) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and the bank is bound to maintain confidentiality of the details of the accounts of its customers.
Dismissing the appeal, the Commission observed that the RTI Act exempts from disclosure any information which would harm the competitive position of the third party including an information relating to commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, personal information and information held in trust . “A one-time settlement that has been arrived at by the bank in respect of a NPA being a matter of commercial confidence, the bank is under no obligation to disclose such information unless it is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
The facts of the case reveals that the appellant is seeking the details of accounts of other private individuals with a view to protect his personal interests as he happens to be a guarantor in respect of a loan granted by the Bank which became an NPA. Moreover, the information concerning other parties are certainly personal information and the bank holds such information concerning private persons in a relationship of a trust and as such it cannot be disclosed,” the order stated.
New Delhi, Nov 15
Express News Service
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