After the 50 days of the announcement of the note ban or the cease of the legal tender of currency notes in the country, Reserve Bank of India(RBI) believes the reason behind the sudden cease of the legal tender can't be made public.
Responding to the RTI request filed by activist Venkatesh Nayak,the RBI refused to disclose the minutes of the crucial meetings of central Board of directors on the issue of demonetization citing section 8(1)(a) of the transparency law.
The monetary policy regulator also refused to give any details about the time it will take to replenish the currency notes. In response to RTI query questioning the date of note replenishment, RBI said" The query is in the nature of seeking future date of event which is not defined as information as per section 2(f) of the act.
The section states, "Information, disclosure of which would pre-judicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific, or economic interests of the state, relation with the foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence."
Denying the information sought in the RTI application, the RBI didn't give any reasons as to how exemption would apply in the given case as the decision was already taken and there was no way that disclosure of information would have fit in any of the reasons citied in section 8(1)(a) of the RTI act.
Lets learn about RTI act 2005 section 8(1)(a) and section 2(f)
RTI act section 8(1)(a) states that information would not be rendered if:
information, disclosure of which would pre-judicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence'
RTI act section 2(f) states the meaning and type of information
INFORMATION means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e‑mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;
Former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told PTI-" The clause of public interest would apply where exemption clause applies on the information sought by an applicant. In the present case, the information sought doesn't attract any exemption clause."
He said law is very clear that when a public authority rejects to disclose an information it must give clear reasons as to how the exemption clause would apply in the given case. Recently, it had refused to allow to access to minutes of meetings held to decide on the issue of demonetization of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes announced by Prime minister Narendra Modi on November 8.
After the hit of demonetization that has almost impacted the entire population of the country, if common citizens are denied of the reasons, then it would be against the spirit of the RTI Act.
BallotBoxIndia faced similar response for query filed over Gomti riverfront development. Ballotboxindia had filed an RTI requesting Uttar Pradesh irrigation department over the ongoing Gomti Riverfront Project was turned down with a denial to grant information. In their response , Irrigation Department mentioned that the asked information is a part of commercial confidence, intellectual property or trade secrets (under Section 8(1)(D)) of RTI.
No matter how trivial is the information, RTI requested is either rejected with baseless reasons or in most cases not answered. In our article on the necessity of digitization in RTI , through our research we had found that 64% RTI are not answered. Filing an RTI is another time and money consuming effort that may or may not ensure desired response. If in some cases it does, it is either rejected or returned with undesired responses. With over more than 10 years of the enactment of the RTI the state CICs have not been able to provide a transparent system of RTI.