HC seeks govt view on RBI plea against CIC order on naming foreign donors

Nov 30, 2018, 12:43 IST | PTI

The CIC had on July 4 this year, while hearing an application filed by Delhi resident Ajay Gupta, directed RBI to disclose its list of foreign donors placed by the ministry of Home Affairs on the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act

HC seeks govt view on RBI plea against CIC order on naming foreign donors

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Union government to file its affidavit in response to a petition filed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) challenging an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) seeking disclosure of foreign donors list.

The CIC had on July 4 this year, while hearing an application filed by Delhi resident Ajay Gupta, directed RBI to disclose its list of foreign donors placed by the ministry of Home Affairs on the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. The RBI was directed to provide the information within four weeks. When it failed to do so, the CIC earlier this month issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor Urjit Patel. The CIC had asked Patel to explain why a penalty should not be imposed on him.

The RBI then approached the high court challenging the July 4 order of the CIC and also the show-cause notice issued to Patel. The petition came up for hearing on Thursday before a division bench of Justices B P Dharmadhikari and S V Kotwal. Advocate D P Singh, appearing for the Union government, sought time to file affidavit in response to the petition. The bench then posted the petition for further hearing on December 18.

An interim stay granted earlier by HC on implementation of the CIC order and notice shall continue till then, HC said. RBI in its petition said the Union Ministry of Home Affairs gives such information to it on a confidential basis and has asked RBI to not disclose the same.

"RBI is only maintaining and respecting this confidentiality. In August, the RBI addressed a letter to the Ministry apprising it of the CIC order. The Ministry replied and said that the information was confidential and ought not to be disclosed," the petition said.

It added that the CIC order was arbitrary and bad in law as the RBI was not the proprietor of the information. The RBI further claimed that it only passes on information received from the ministry to the concerned banks and does not maintain a data base of the said information.

The petition further claimed that disclosure of such information would have an impact on the security of the country. "The disclosure of said information may have a serious impact on the national security and hence cannot be made public as it involves far reaching consequences, " the plea said.

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