Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu has taken on his chief R K Mathur a day before his retirement after the latter objected to his decision asking the RBI to disclose details of wilful defaulters.
Acharyulu, who retired on Tuesday, shot off a letter to Chief Information Commissioner Mathur on Monday against Mathur’s reasoning against his order, asking him whether the Chief Information Commission (CIC) was under any obligation to let the RBI conceal such details.
He went on to say that the CIC did “not have any legal duty to abet in any manner the concealment of names of wilful defaulters” and “many more such thugs and exploiters of Mother India need to be disclosed”.
“Are we under oath to help in the concealment of details of those who thrive on fraud despite the knowledge that 3 lakh farmers committed suicide across the country as they could not repay small amounts of loans? Not only the Constitution but also my conscience is the guiding factor and basis for my order in this case,” he said in a terse letter.
The Commission had earlier issued a show cause notice to RBI Governor Urijit Patel for “dishonouring” a Supreme Court judgment and CIC directive on disclosure of the list of wilful defaulters.
According to the letter, Mathur had a “conversation” with Acharyulu on his order where the former had raised some questions.
In his response, Acharyulu said, the CIC “should not be ignorant” of the fact that RBI’s arguments against disclosure were specifically rejected and 11 orders of CIC were confirmed by Supreme Court.
With Mathur mentioning that he went beyond unwritten protocols in the CIC, Acharyulu said, “can unwritten protocols override written text of law and Supreme Court’s judgment? CIC should have taken all steps to enforce its orders, including filing of a complaint for contempt of court in such cases.”
To Mathur’s view that Acharyulu’s actions has put another Information Commissioner in an “embarrassing position” and it should have been “avoided”, he responded that their primary duty is to uphold and implement RTI Act, which was “being violated by important public authorities like RBI”.
“Depending on the context, the IC issues directions to other authorities also, irrespective of the fact that it was dealt with by other IC. It is a legally valid practice in general. Entire Commission should feel embarrassed when its order is not being complied with like this,” he said.