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Vihar Durve Vs. State Bank of India, Mumbai - (Central Information Commission) (21 Dec 2020)

No larger public interest overriding the right to privacy of the donors and donees of electoral bonds; information are exempt under provisions of RTI Act


Right to Information

The Appellant has filed the instant appeal on the grounds that, reply given by the CPIO was wrong, incomplete and misleading. The Appellant pleaded that, the SBI was supposed to uphold public interest and not the interest of political parties and that the SBI was not in fiduciary capacity with any political party and hence, had no legal duty to maximize the benefit of any public sector or private sector bank; there was no relationship of “trust” between them. The Appellant requested that, the information was to be disclosed in the interest of transparency, accountability and efficient functioning of Enforcement Directorate. The Appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide the complete information and take necessary action as per Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act).

The Respondent reiterated that, they had furnished the information in respect of details of total amount in rupees of electoral bonds issued in different cities from the year 2018 to 2020. However, the names of donors being third party information and relating to their customers were held by the bank in fiduciary capacity. Therefore, the information was exempted under provisions of Section 8 (1) (e) and (j) of RTI Act.

The Respondent further referred to the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 and as per the clause 7 (4) of the said scheme, the information furnished by the buyer shall be treated as confidential by the authorized bank (SBI) and shall not be disclosed to any authority for any purpose. Therefore, the Respondent reiterated that, the information except the personal details already having been provided, the appeal deserved to be dismissed.

The Commission observes that, the Respondent has revisited the RTI application and reiterated its earlier stand in respect of the RTI application that, the disclosure of the information was exempted under the provisions of Section 8 (1) (e) and (j) of the RTI Act. The Commission notes that, due reply has been given to the Appellant vide letter. The Commission upholds the contention of the Respondent that, in the disclosure of the names of the donors and donees of electoral bonds from books of accounts may be in contravention of the provisions contained under Section 8 (1) (e) and (j) of RTI Act. There appears to be no larger public interest overriding the right to privacy of the donors and donees concerned. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.


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