RTI meets Swiss banking

Transparency vs secrecy: will we ever get the info?


Samir Sachdeva | October 18, 2010

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to disclose to the RTI applicant, V R Chandran, an estimate of black money deposited by Indians in Swiss banks.

Also see: Swiss banks don't want to hide, so we don't want to seek!

The ED had declined the information under section 24(1) of the RTI Act which exempts the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, from the preview of the transparency law. The same clause highlights that information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section.

The bench comprising Wajahat Habibullah (the then CIC) and the information commissioners - A N Tiwari (current CIC), Shailesh Gandhi and M L Sharma ruled on September 28 that the matter being investigated by ED came within the definition of "allegations of corruption" and therefore needs to be disclosed to the applicant. CIC ordered that the total sum of the money investigated by ED in the case be disclosed to the applicant but exempted ED from disclosing names of parties and the nature of investigation.

The applicant in this case filed the RTI application on November 13, 2008. The first appeal in the matter was filed on January 7, 2009 and rejected on February 18, 2009 by the appellate authority. The second appeal was filed on February 23, 2009 and heard by single bench of information commissioner A N Tiwari on June 11, 2009. The matter was postponed to July 15, 2009 and thereafter transferred to a full bench. The commission also asked for feedback of the ministries of finance and law & justice on the matter. The matter was posted for October 15, 2009 but heard only on March 10, 2010 by the full bench. The full bench decision came on September 28, 2010 with a limited relief only. Now the decision of the CIC, most likely will be challenged in the high court followed by the supreme court (by either party) which will further delay the disclosure of the information.

Also when CIC has ruled that the amount of money being investigated needs to be disclosed as it is a corruption related matter then the exemption given on names of parties and nature of investigation was uncalled for. CIC has also passed an order which may let the citizens know a figure which is already circulating the media. The act of CIC to seek opinion from the ministry of law and justice is a clear conflict of interest as the ED may also have been seeking legal opinion from the same ministry. If CIC would have based their decision on any such advice it would have passed an order on a government officer which would have been in parallel receiving the advice of the legal department. Seeking opinion from the ministry of finance was equally surprising as ED is under the administrative control of the finance ministry. This would have meant CIC asking the public authority to advice on an appeal against it. By this action alone the CIC was proved that it was not true to disclosure of information. All these efforts appear to delay the decision and ensure that the information is not disclosed.

In past the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) has shared some information with the Indian government on names of individuals having accounts with it. But it is said that the UBS’s information was quietly buried as it named some politicians. While countries like the US have put pressure on Swiss banks by threatening sanctions on Swiss economy, India is still trying to hide the information whether on amount of money or names of parties. It looks as if no one in India wants to disclose the information least bring the money back.



Other News

Gandhi’s Triumph over the Fear of Death

The Essential U. R. Ananthamurthy Edited by N. Manu Chakravarthy and Chandan Gowda Aleph Books, Rs 899, 312 pages

Bird walks for youngsters to be held across India

Early Bird and the Rainmatter Foundation have announced five bird walks, led by naturalists, across India on June 10. The walks, to be held in Agartala, Dehradun, Mysore, Panjim, and Tirupati early in the morning, are part of the Rainmatter Foundation’s Walking Lightly campaign, being observed throug

India celebrates Environment Day with thrust on Mission LiFE

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India organized the World Environment Day on Monday with a thrust on Mission LiFE. The concept of LiFE, i.e., Lifestyle for Environment was introduced by prime minister Narendra Modi at the World Leaders` Summit in Glasgow at COP26, when

Green banking: an emerging way forward

Green Banking is an initiative taken by the banks to promote environment-friendly practices and reduce carbon footprint of their activities. Green financing (a part of ‘Green Banking’) is a broad term that can refer to a financial investment flowing into sustainable development projects and ini

GST revenue in May clocks 12% y-o-y growth

The gross Good & Services Tax (GST) revenue collected in the month of May, 2023 is ₹1,57,090 crore of which CGST is ₹28,411 crore, SGST is ₹35,828 crore, IGST is ₹81,363 crore (including ₹41,772 crore collected on import of goods) and cess is ₹11,489 crore (including ₹1,057 crore collecte

Need local solutions to climate change: P Velrasu of BMC

Climate change rising temperature and sea levels are posing new risks for coastal cities. With population growth rate of 1%- 2% in India every year, Mumbai too is growing and is population will double from 20 million to 40 million in the coming years. The city is also at the risk of rising sea level. It ne

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Current Issue


Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter