NEW DELHI: Are citizens entitled to information on bank balances and borrowings by Tatas, Ambanis and Birlas under the RTI Act, the banks asked on Monday, while arguing before the Supreme Court that its judgment opening up confidential banking information through RTI would lay bare future business plans for which industrial houses seek credit lines.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for SBI and HDFC Bank, respectively, told a bench of Justices S Abdul Nazir and Krishna Murari that banking operations and financial transactions, including the details of individual accounts, are held in confidence by the banks and that the SC judgment would seriously jeopardise the confidential clauses applicable to the banking operations under various statutes.
Mehta said, “No one is against transparency. But, why should the banks, mandated by statute to maintain confidentiality, reveal information in breach of account holders’ trust and reveal future business plans to rivals, who could get the information by employing an RTI activist’s services?”
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, however, strongly resisted the fresh move by the banks to wriggle out of their obligations. The bench said that prima facie Bhushan appears to be right and the matters should be listed before a bench headed by Justice L N Rao, which had rejected the recall applications. However, the bench adjourned further hearing to Thursday.