HM Journal

Reserve Bank of India v. Jayantilal N. Mishra & Anr. (LL 2020 SC 233)

Judges’ name: L. Nageswara Rao J. and Vineet Saran J.

Judgment date: April 28, 2021

Introduction:

Every Indian citizen have been granted the right to information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 replacing the former Freedom to Information Act. It helps citizens to hold organisations and governmental bodies substantially funded by the government to be held questionable on their procedures in order to quantify whether their rights are been infringed or not. The issue dealt in the case is that whether recall applications can be filed in already closed judgments of the court and whether recall applications were basically review petitions in disguise.

Brief facts:

In a transferred civil case, the respondents had sought for information from Reserve Bank of India which it denied to give stating that it was exempted from revealing such information under Section 8 (1) (a), (d) and (e) of the Right to Information act, 2005. The Apex court held in Jayantilal N. Mishra & Ors V RBI, that the Reserve Bank was obliged to disclose information and it was not in any fiduciary relationship with the banks. It was the purpose of the bank to look after the public interests and economic interests of the country and not think of withholding information that might embarrass the banks. Also, the reports of inspections or statements of bank were not confidential information under any pretext of confidence or trust.

Following this judgment, contempt petitions were filed against RBI which stated that the bank was wilfully disobeying the order of the court and not publishing the information. The RBI in return had furnished a disclaimer policy issued in 2016 after the court’s judgment which clearly reflected the intention to disobey the court’s orders. Again in 2019 there was a disclosure policy uploaded to RBNI’s website which was later removed. This made the court reprimand the Bank and warned that if the Bank does not obey the Court there would be serious consequences (Girish Mittal v. Parvati V. Sundaram & Anr.)

Contentions by appellant:

Following the above-mentioned orders, HDFC, State Bank of India and others filed for applications of recall along with Writ petitions against the Jayantilal Mishra case. The two-judge bench decided to detach the writ petitions from the miscellaneous applications as they contained a challenge to notices issued by RBI which was different than what was pleaded in the applications. The appellant had contended that the aforementioned judgment should be recalled as they were never notified of the proceedings or made party to it. But its far reaching consequences have affected them. Also, they contended that the judgment had a limited perspective and did not consider the ‘right to privacy’ of the parties which was supported by the Supreme court case judgment of K.S. Putta swamy of 2017. They argued that application of review was very different than applications of recall.

Contentions by respondent:

The respondents contended that in the case of Delhi Administration v. Gurdip Singh Uban & Ors. it was held that recall applications were filed only to avoid filing review petitions and so they were not maintainable. Also, in the Jayantilal case the ICICI Bank and RBI was heard before deciding the cases. All the banks were aware of such proceedings but nobody filed for impleading themselves as parties to the proceedings. Also, the contempt petitions were filed against RBI which means that all the other banks could not be made parties to it.

Principle laid down:

  1. The two judges bench held that there are no rules under Supreme court to file for applications of recall in contrast to review as was clearly stated in Delhi administration v. Gurudip Singh Uban & Ors. So, the application was not maintainable.
  2. The appellants did not try to implead themselves as parties to the proceedings even though they had complete knowledge of it. So, their contention that recall should be done on the basis that all affected parties were not heard was curtailed by the court.
  3. That the applications for recall were a camouflage for review applications. “The nomenclature given to an application is of absolutely no consequence – what is of importance is the substance of the application” was stated by the court.

Judgment:

The court held that all the miscellaneous judgments were dismissed. But the appellants were free to take other legal recourse available if the question is the correctness of the Jayantilal Mistry case judgment. Also, the writ petitions filed alongside were in no way to be affected by the dismissal of these applications.

Dissected by Sayantani Dutta

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