Aurangabad, March 2: Cooperative banks and institutions now cannot refuse to provide data under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Notably, The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday took a remarkable decision and gave the very important verdict that co-operative institutions “need to supply” information to any “public authority” established under the Cooperative Societies Act.
The two-member bench of Justice TL Nalwade and Justice Sangitrao Patil pronounced the judgment on February 13 after hearing all parties in a writ petition filed by the Jalgaon Jillha Urban Cooperative Banks Associations Ltd. The petitioners sought exemption from disclosing information under the RTI Act, 2005.
The bench also referred to a Supreme Court verdict in a matter involving the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and held that everything which is mentioned in the definition of information as per RTI Act needs to be provided by the cooperative institutions. The court further stated that the previous verdict made by it while deciding the case was not correct in view of the Supreme Court verdict.
Earlier, the petitioner had argued before the court that cooperative institutions registered under Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960 cannot be treated as public authority as per the section 2(h) and section 8 of the RTI Act.
The court, besides invoking the Supreme Court verdict, also brought to the notice the possibility of state aid and even giving subsidies to the cooperative institution to protect the cooperative movement. Highlighting that cooperative institutions cannot act independently and the apex bodies are created for such institutions, the court ruled that the observations made by the Supreme court can be used safely when the information is sought from the authority like Registrar or his subordinates of a cooperative institution.
Later, the RTI community, which was insisting on bringing the cooperative institutions under the transparency legislation for long, has hailed the court verdict stating it would have a great impact on the functioning of the cooperative sector.
Notably, there are a total of 510 urban cooperative banks and 15,000 credit cooperative societies in the state. The case of corruption is increased in the co-operative institutions effectively but no one was able to question it due to the lack of evidence and information due to its exemption from RTI Act. But now this verdict of High Court will bring transparency in the process of co-operative institutions and corruptions will also be curbed.