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RBI: SMA details exempted from disclosure under RTI
March, 13th 2018

Contradicting its reply to an earlier right to information (RTI) query, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently said bank-wise information on special mention account (SMA) 1 and 2 is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (a) & (d) of the RTI Act.

Contradicting its reply to an earlier right to information (RTI) query, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently said bank-wise information on special mention account (SMA) 1 and 2 is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (a) & (d) of the RTI Act. While SMA 1 refers to loans where repayments are overdue between 31-60 days, SMA 2 loans are ones where principal or interest is overdue between 61-90 days. Although these are technically not non-performing assets (NPAs), but nonetheless indicate ‘incipient stress’. In April 2016, RBI had said in an RTI response that SMA 1 and 2 loans of all banks stood at Rs 6,24,119 crore at the end of December 2015, 9% higher than Rs 5,73,381 crore at the end of June 2015. It had further said while SBI’s SMA-2 accounts stood at Rs 60,228 crore, or 5.17% of its total advances, at PNB this exposure was approximately 6.31% of its total loan book or Rs 24,824 crore. RBI’s executive director and appellate authority Uma Shankar said on March 7, 2018, that there is no overriding public interest in the disclosure of credit information. She added that Section 45E of the RBI Act, 1934, contains a specific bar against disclosure of credit information collected by the central bank. “Though Section 22 of the RTI Act, 2005, starts with a non-obstante clause, the interpretation given to that section by CIC is that it is not intended to override special enactments,” she said. She said SMA data is collected by RBI solely for disseminating the information to other banks having exposure to the accounts reported in SMA by banks. An email sent to RBI for comments did not yield any response till the time of going to press.

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