Reserve Bank Of India vs Jayantilal N. Mistry on 28 April, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Reserve Bank Of India vs Jayantilal N. Mistry on 28 April, 2021

Author: L. Nageswara Rao

Bench: L. Nageswara Rao, Vineet Saran

                                               Non-Reportable

        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
          CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                M.A. No.2342 of 2019
                          In
        Transferred Case (Civil) No.91 of 2015

Reserve Bank of India
                                            .... Applicant(s)
                         Versus

Jayantilal N. Mistry & Anr.

                                          …. Respondent (s)

WITH

M.A. No.805/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.1870/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.534/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.1046/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.1129/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.1646/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.1647/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.1648/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.2008/2020 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.560/2021 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015
M.A. No.573/2021 in T.C.(C) No. 91/2015

O R D E R

1. Information sought by the Respondents in Transferred

Case (Civil) No.91 of 2015 was not given by the Reserve

Bank of India (for short, ‘RBI’) on the ground that such

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information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1)

(a), (d) and (e) of the Right to Information Act, 2005

(hereinafter, the ‘Act’). Writ Petitions filed in the High Courts

were transferred on the request of the RBI to this Court. By a

judgment dated 16.12.2015 in Reserve Bank of India v.

Jayantilal N. Mistry 1, this Court refused to accept the

contention of the RBI that the information sought by the

Respondents could not be disclosed in view of its fiduciary

relationship with the banks. This Court observed that RBI is

not in any fiduciary relationship with the banks and that the

RBI has a statutory duty to uphold the interest of public at

large, the depositors, country’s economy and the banking

sector. This Court was of the opinion that the RBI has to act

with transparency and not hide information that might

embarrass the banks and that it is duty bound to comply with

the provisions of the Act and disclose the information sought.

2. In some transferred cases, the subject matter of

challenge were the orders of Central Information

Commissioner by which information was furnished. The

orders passed by the Central Information Commissioner

1 (2016) 3 SCC 525

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giving valid reasons for providing the information were

upheld by the aforementioned judgment.

3. Thereafter, Contempt Petitions were filed complaining

of willful disobedience of the directions issued by this Court

in its judgment dated 16.12.2015 in Transferred Case (Civil)

No.91 of 2015. The disclosure policy of RBI dated

30.11.2016 which was contrary to the directions issued by

this Court was found to be in willful disobedience of the

judgment dated 16.12.2015. During the course of hearing of

the Contempt Petition, it was brought to the notice of this

Court that another disclosure policy was uploaded on the RBI

website on 12.04.2019. Later on, the RBI deleted the said

disclosure policy from its website. Exemptions in the

disclosure policy of the RBI which were contrary to the

directions issued by this Court were directed to be withdrawn

by the RBI through a judgment dated 26.04.2019 in Girish

Mittal v. Parvati V. Sundaram & Anr. 2. This Court

observed that violation of the directions of this Court by RBI

shall be viewed seriously.

4. M.A. No.2342 of 2019 has been filed by HDFC Bank

Limited and Others seeking impleadment in the transferred
2 (2019) 20 SCC 747

3 | Page
case and for recall of the judgment dated 16.12.2015 passed

by this Court in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra). By an order

dated 18.12.2019, this Court directed the RBI not to release

inspection reports, risk assessment reports and annual

financial inspection reports of the banks including the State

Bank of India. Other private banks also followed HDFC Bank

in filing miscellaneous applications for recall of the judgment

of this Court in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra). All the

miscellaneous applications were listed along with two Writ

Petitions that were filed by the State Bank of India and HDFC

Bank. It is relevant to mention that the prayer in the Writ

Petitions is to strike down the notices issued by the RBI

seeking information from the banks relating to inspection

reports, risk assessment reports and annual financial

inspection reports. A further direction was sought to the RBI

not to disclose confidential and sensitive information related

to the banks.

5. After hearing the learned Senior Counsel for the

Petitioner in Writ Petition (C) No.1469 of 2019 filed by the

State Bank of India and Another, we directed de-tagging of

the Writ Petitions as they pertain to a challenge of notices

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issued by the RBI. We make it clear that all questions raised

in the Writ Petitions are left open and the order we propose

to pass in the miscellaneous applications will not have any

bearing on the consideration of the Writ Petitions on their

own merits.

6. The main contention of the Applicants for recall of the

judgment in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra) is that the

judgment has far reaching consequences and the applicants

who are directly and substantially affected were not made

parties and heard. They relied upon the judgments of this

Court in Budhia Swain & Ors. v. Gopinath Deb & Ors. 3,

Royal Paradise Hotel (P) Ltd. v. State of Haryana &

Ors.4, Asit Kumar Kar v. State of W.B. & Ors. 5 and

Vishnu Agarwal v. State of U.P.& Anr. 6 to contend that

the application for recall of the judgment is maintainable

when there is violation of principles of natural justice. It was

also argued on behalf of the banks that an application for

recall is different from review. The learned counsel

appearing for the banks submitted that the inherent

jurisdiction of this Court should be exercised to recall the
3 (1999) 4 SCC 396
4 (2006) 7 SCC 597
5 (2009) 2 SCC 703
6 (2011) 14 SCC 813

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judgment in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra) which failed to

consider important questions of law. It was further argued

that the judgment in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra) addressed

a limited perspective. In the said judgment, this Court did

not consider the important aspect of violation of the right to

privacy which has been held to be an intrinsic part of the

right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the

Constitution of India in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) &

Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. 7. Another submission made

on behalf of the banks is that the judgment in Jayantilal N.

Mistry (supra) is per incuriam as certain judgments of this

Court have not been considered. An attempt was made to

make submissions regarding the correctness of the judgment

which was curtailed by this Court on the ground that

arguments were being heard only regarding the

maintainability of the applications for recall.

7. The learned counsel for the Respondents submitted

that it has been held by this Court in Delhi Administration

v. Gurdip Singh Uban & Ors. 8 that applications for recall

are filed to avoid filing Review Petitions which are decided by

7 (2017) 10 SCC 1
8 (2000) 7 SCC 296

6 | Page
way of circulation. It was held in the said judgment that

such applications are not maintainable. The learned counsel

further referred to the judgments of this Court in B.K.

Pavithra and Others v. Union of India and Others 9,

Saurabh Chaudri (Dr.)& Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. 10

and Rashid Khan Pathan : In Re : Vijay Kurle and

Others11. It was argued on behalf of the Respondents that

the judgment in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra) was delivered

after hearing RBI and ICICI Bank. All the banks were aware of

the hearing of the case but did not take any step to get

themselves impleaded. The Contempt Petition filed for non-

implementation of the directions issued by this Court in

Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra) was against the RBI and the

Applicants could not have been made parties to the

Contempt Petitions. The learned counsel appearing for the

Respondents submitted that it is in public interest that the

information that was directed to be furnished under the RTI

Act by the RBI is revealed.

8. Order XLVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 provides

for the remedy of filing application for review. There is no

9 (2020) SCC Online SC 822
10 (2004) 5 SCC 618
11 2020 SCC Online SC 711

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provision in the Supreme Court Rules for filing any

application for recall of the judgment of this Court. In Delhi

Administration v. Gurdip Singh Uban & Ors. (supra), this

Court made it clear that applications filed for clarification,

modification or recall are often only a camouflage for review

petitions. It was held that such applications should not be

entertained, except in extraordinary circumstances. While

relying upon this judgment of this Court in Rashid Khan

Pathan (supra), this Court was of the opinion that filing

applications which are not maintainable amounts to abuse of

process of Court. In the said judgment, this Court reiterated

the importance of finality of a judgment and held that parties

should not be permitted to file applications to reopen

concluded judgments of this Court.

9. The learned counsel appearing for the Applicants cited

judgments of this Court in their support to distinguish a

review from recall. It was argued that a review petition

would require consideration of the matter on merits in case

there is an error apparent on the face of record. Whereas,

recall applications are entertained only in case the judgment

is passed without jurisdiction or without an opportunity of

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hearing being given to the affected party. All the judgments

that are cited on this point are cases where petitions for

recall were entertained when a person directly affected by

the judgment was not heard. In the instant case, the

dispute relates to information to be provided by the RBI

under the Act. Though the information pertained to the

banks, it was the decision of the RBI which was in challenge

and decided by this Court. No effort was made by any of the

applicants in the miscellaneous applications to get

themselves impleaded when the transferred cases were

being heard by this Court. The applications styled as recall

are essentially applications for review. The nomenclature

given to an application is of absolutely no consequence –

what is of importance is the substance of the application –

M.C. Mehta v. Union of India12. A close scrutiny of the

applications for recall makes it clear that in substance, the

applicants are seeking a review of the judgment in

Jayantilal N.Mistry (supra). Therefore, we are of the

considered opinion that these applications are not

maintainable. We make it clear that we are not dealing with

any of the submissions made on the correctness of the
12 (2019) 2 SCJ 640

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judgment of this Court in Jayantilal N. Mistry (supra). The

dismissal of these applications shall not prevent the

applicants to pursue other remedies available to them in law.

10. All the Miscellaneous Applications are dismissed.

……………………………J.
[ L. NAGESWARA RAO]

………………………….J.

[VINEET SARAN]

New Delhi,
April 28, 2021.

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