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RTI reveals RBI apathy over National Litigation Policy

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RTI reveals RBI apathy over National Litigation Policy

Banking Operations Department Says It Does Not Have Info On How To Implement The Policy That Seeks To Reduce Litigation

Vijaysinh Parmar | TNN


Rajkot: The National Litigation Policy (NLP) aimed at reducing the cases pending in various courts in India is nine months old, but the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which is supposed to implement the procitizen policy in the banking sector is unaware of it.

The Department of Banking Operations and Development in the RBI’s central office in Mumbai has told a Right to Information (RTI) activist that it does not have any information on how the RBI is implementing the NLP.

The RTI activist J P Shah from Junagadh filed an RTI application in December 2010seeking information on the date of receipt of NLP by the RBI, steps initiated by it for compliance of the policy, feedback given to the government and copies of feedback from the SBI, Syndicate Bank, Dena Bank, Corporation Bank and the Punjab National Bank. Central Public Information Officer B Mahapatra of the RBI wrote back to Shah on January 31 saying that the information sought by him was not available with the Department of Banking Operations and Development.

The NLP is aimed at decongesting courts and reducing litigation cost and time. Under the policy, effective from July 1, 2010, banks have to form committees to review all cases before filing a lawsuit so that petty cases do not clog the courts and waste the time and money of the bank and the customer.

Not satisfied with the reply, Shah went in appeal. V S Das, executive director of RBI and appellate authority, ruled on March 28 that “the Central Public Information Officer is duty bound to provide only that information which the public authority holds”.

Das has directed Mahapatra to forward Shah’s query to the RBI’s legal department as well as the secretary’s department “to explore the availability of the information sought with those departments and furnish an appropriate response to the appellant”.

“How can you expect proper implementation of an important policy under such circumstances?” asks Shah. The RBI is the regulatory body of banks in the country and, thus, is the implementing agency of central government policies such as the NLP. “It is shocking that an important wing of the RBI has no copy of a pro-people policy, especially because banks are one of the big litigants against the public. Some banks compel customers to move courts even for petty issues such as an unwritten policy or they file cases in courts at the drop of the hat and waste public money to harass the public,” says Shah, a retired bank manager.

The NLP is based on the recognition that government and its various agencies are the predominant litigants in courts and tribunals in the country. It aims to transform government into an efficient and responsible litigant. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of citizens, to respect fundamental rights and those in charge of the conduct of government litigation should never forget this basic principle, said Shah.

Shah has now written to the Union law minister, finance minister and RBI governor to ensure effective implementation of the NLP by the banking sector.

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