RBI rejects RTI on why exchange of old notes not allowed till March 31


New Delhi, March 27: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has yet again refused to reply an RTI related to decision by the central bank regarding the demonetisation of high currency notes. 

This time RBI has denied an RTI seeking clarification on why conversion of old currency notes is not allowed till March 31, 2017 for Indians as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 while addressing the nation on Television.

The RBI has claimed that the RBI query to this matter is not under the definition of “information” as per the transparency law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016, announced demonetisation and assured the nation that they can convert the old notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 till March 31.

However later on, the RBI in its directive said that the window till March 31 will be kept only for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

In its response to the RTI, the RBI refused to share file notings on the decision to limit currency conversion window till March 31 only for NRIs, saying it would be against the economic interests of the state.

The applicant had sought reasons, as “recorded” in the files of the RBI, behind the decision to not allow conversion of currency till March 31 for Indians as assured by the PM.

The question is in the nature of seeking reasons or justification from CPIO which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” said the response form Suman Ray, central public information officer.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court has clarified the issue in one of its noted judgements saying if opinion or advice is available in the records of the public authority, it will come under the definition of the “information” under the RTI Act.

Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that section 8(2) of the RTI Act allows disclosure of information, even if it is exempted, if it is in larger public interest.

The RTI Act defines “information” as “any material in any form” held by or under the control of a public authority.

The definition covers “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, 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”.

The bankers’ bank has stonewalled almost every RTI query pertaining to demonetisation citing one or the other reason.

It had refused to respond if the views of finance minister Arun Jaitley or the chief economic adviser were taken before demonetisation was announced, it had also refused to disclose reasons behind the sudden move, among others.

It had also refused to allow access to minutes of the meetings held to decide on the issue of demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

After the deadline to exchange the scrapped notes expired on December 30, 2016, the government issued an ordinance saying only those who were abroad, the armed forces personnel posted in remote areas, or others who could give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes, can do so till March 31.

Wefornews Bureau (with PTI inputs)

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