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The RBI refuses to share information related to preparatory meetings on Demonetization

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The RBI in response to an application under RTI refused to disclose the list of meetings, minutes of such meetings held before the demonetization decision was taken. RBI believes the information relates to sensitive matters.

As the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) keeps changing rules relating to the Demonetization every other day, Factly filed an application under RTI to know the details of the preparatory meetings held before the decision was announced on November 8th, 2016.  In response to the RTI application, the RBI refused to share any information saying it relates to sensitive matters and is exempted from disclosure under Sec 8(1)(a) of the RTI act.

What was asked?

 The following information relating to the withdrawal of the Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes was sought from the RBI.

  • List of meetings held with any department of government of India or any other government entity before the decision was arrived at.
  • Provide minutes (MoM) of all such meetings
  • List of stakeholders consulted before taking the decision.
  • Copy of all communication between RBI & Government of India in this regard

In its response, the RBI said, ‘The Information sought relates to sensitive matters pertaining to discontinuation/withdrawal of banknotes. The information is exempt from disclosure under Sec 8(1)(a) of the RTI act 2005’

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 What is Sec 8(1)(a) of the RTI act?

 Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI act exempts the following information from disclosure, ‘Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially 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’

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 But how would disclosing the list of meetings held and minutes of such meetings attract any of the provisions mentioned in Sec 8(1)(a) of the RTI act is a million-dollar question. This is especially important since the information is being sought after the decision has been taken. The information if disclosed would in fact help the citizens understand the preparedness of RBI in implementing the decision.  By refusing to part with information, the RBI is only giving scope for more questions about its lack of preparedness in implementing the demonetization.

Featured Image: RBI

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