Chowkidaar Bhagidaar: RBI Confirms That Raghuram Rajan Had Sent List Of NPA Defaulters To PM Modi In Feb 2015
PMO and the Finance Ministry have refused to divulge any information on this.
Eight months into being elected to office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was informed about the probable key defaulters by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan.
The Wire filed an RTI application with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the RBI and sought information on Rajan’s claim that he had handed over “a list of high profile fraud cases of non-performing assets to the Prime Minister’s Office for coordinated investigation”.
Rajan had made the claim in his note to the parliament’s estimates committee last month. At that time, several media houses had erroneously reported that Rajan had sent the list not to PM Modi, but to former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in his letter.
Now, in a response to The Wire’s RTI, RBI has said that Rajan wrote the letter on defaulters and sent it to the PMO on February 4, 2015. Furthermore, this letter was also sent to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The RBI said that the list Rajan had sent is currently under investigation and refused to share minutes of the meeting or progress in the concerned matter. “The large value cases of frauds sent by the Reserve Bank of India to the office of Finance Minister, GOI, and the Office of Prime Minister during the governorship of Dr Raghuram Rajan are under various stages of investigation with various government/external agencies and minutes of meetings/action taken report contains confidential information about third parties as well. As the disclosure of such information may impede the process of investigation pertaining to the cases, the requested information is exempted from disclosure under Clause (h) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, 2005,” wrote the bank in its reply.
Whereas, the PMO refused to divulge any information about Rajan’s letter. “The matter sort is in the form of a roving inquiry and does not come under the definition of “information” under Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act,” wrote Parveen Kumar, PMO under secretary and public information officer.
PMO also refused to disclose the date on which Rajan had written the letter. When asked what action was taken after receiving Rajan’s list, the PMO said, ““The information being sought by the applicant is in the form of query/seeking opinion, clarification, which does not constitute information as defined by Section 2(f) of the RTI Act.”
Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told The Wire that the PMO’s answer is not legally correct. “The information should be given in the same form as it exists. Of course the action taken on the list sent by Rajan falls under the purview of the RTI Act. If information is not provided, then it is a violation of the Act.”
Interestingly, the Finance Ministry posed the RTI for reply to four branches — he Revenue Department, Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Expenditure and Investment and Public Asset Management Department — after sitting on it for 40 days.
Department of Economics and Financial Affairs Department stated that they do not have any information about Rajan’s list. A.K. Ghosh, under secretary in the ministry’s Financial Affairs Department, said, “We have no information related to this.”
While the RBI has admitted that Rajan did send the said list to PM Modi, the evasive tactics being employed by the PMO and the Finance Ministry’s departments hints towards brewing trouble.