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Disclosure of Information held in fiduciary capacity under the RTI Act

By : Swagat Mohanty on 09 November 2011 Report Abuse Print Print this

In a decision of the CIC in re: R. Ronjalis vs. Indian Bank of India, dated 4/11/11 wherein the husband of a borrower had sought for some information relating to the loan account of his wife, it was held by the CIC as follows :


"The appellant had sought information about a customer of the bank which is self help group. The Appellatn has claimed that his wife is a member of the said group. The Bank has denied the information claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act exempts information which is held in a fiduciary capacity by the public authority. The information regarding a customer can only be given to an applicant, who is the authorized signatory in the Bank.


Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act exempts from disclosure 'information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;'


The traditional definition of a fiduciary is a person who occupies a position of trust in relation to someone else, therefore requiring him to act for the latter's benefit within the scope of that relationship. In business or law, we generally mean someone who has specific duties, such as those that attend a particular profession or role, e.g. doctor, lawyer, financial analyst or trustee. Another important characteristic of such a relationship is that the information must be given by the holder of information who must have a choice,- as when a litigant goes to a particular lawyer, a customer chooses a particular bank, or a patient goes to particular doctor. An equally important characteristic for the relationship to qualify as a fiduciary relationship is that the provider of information gives the information for using it for the benefit of the one who is providing the information. All relationships usually have an element of trust, but all of them cannot be classified as fiduciary. Information provided in discharge of a statutory requirement, or to obtain a job, or to get a license, cannot be considered to have been given in a fiduciary relationship.


In the instant case very clearly a fiduciary relationship exists, since customers of a Bank come to it because of the implicit trust they have; and they provide information to the Bank for their own benefit. Customers also have a choice of which bank they wish to approach. Hence unless a large public interest is shown the information is exempted from disclosure. "

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10 Comments for this Article

Surrender K Singal

Surrender K Singal

Wrote on 28 August 2014

Does it not imply that Bank may not be justified in refusing information to any authorised signatory in relation to the sought about information from / in the Bank ?

J. P. Shah

J. P. Shah

Wrote on 16 November 2011

If larger public interest in information [like fraud, misuse of funds, illegal receipt of funds etc]can be prima facei proved, bank details can be accessed.

J. P. Shah

J. P. Shah

Wrote on 16 November 2011

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