The Bombay High Court on Friday, December 14, granted interim stay on Central Information Commission (CIC) orders to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which directed to submit a list of wilful defaulters.
"Ad-interim relief sought in the petition for staying the operation, finishings, effect and other conclusions of the respondent (RBI) is granted", said the Bombay HC during the hearing.
Furthermore, during the hearing, HC also stayed a show-cause notice issued by CIC to former RBI Governor Urjit Patel for non-disclosure of the information and for defiance of its order on November 2 this year.
Senior counsel appearing for RBI told the High Court, "the CIC order has been passed without giving a hearing to RBI. Information of such nature if disclosed could harm the national economy. So in such a situation, the CIC order is ex facie illegal, unsustainable and arbitrary."
Earlier on November 2, the CIC had issued a show-cause notice to the former RBI Governor for dishonouring a Supreme court judgement on disclosure of wilful defaulters list. Notice issued, after the RBI failed to give the list of wilful defaulters, stated that the RBI Governor as a deemed public information officer responsible for non-disclosure and defiance of its orders.
After this, the RBI had petitioned in the High Court challenging the orders passed by CIC, directing it to disclose the details of wilful defaulters who have taken loans of more than Rs 1,000 crore at the beginning and those with bad debt worth Rs 500 crore or less at a later stage.
HC after hearing brief arguments of the case posted the matter for further hearing on April 10.
Speaking to Republic TV earlier in November, former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said, "There were a series of 10 orders in which he had directed RBI to disclose information about the defaulters and so on. SC knew that commissions directions were right as per law and RBI must disclose this. The key argument had been that the RBI seems to feel that they are only able to judge what is good for India's economy and citizens are dumb. RBI has been refusing the same set of information later on in fact on their website as guidelines saying that they will not give any information."