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  Home >> Farmers of Maharashtra may finally get some respite

 
 

Farmers of Maharashtra may finally get some respite

THE DEBT-RIDDEN farmers of Maharashtra may finally get some respite.

Till recently, they were being denied information relating to their loan status or financial deals by District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCB). Now, thanks to an order passed by the state information commissioner quashing the banks’ claim of not being ‘public authority’ as de fined under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, farmers can apply for any kind of bank information under the RTI.

According to State Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi, his office had been receiving numerous applications from farmers asking for information from DCCBs, which the latter were just not offering, citing banking clauses. Hearing the case of Babanrao Dhakne against Ahmednagar District Central Cooperative Bank Ltd (ADCCBL), Joshi declared it a general rule that all DCCBs were ‘Public Authorities’ under the RTI Act and therefore accountable.

The banks claimed that they were neither a body of self- government nor financed directly or indirectly by government funds and thus not a Public Authority.

Instead, DCCBs were covered only by the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which restricted the bank from supplying information and producing documents.

The Ahmednagar Co-op bank also claimed that there was no specific provision under the Banker’s Books Evidence Act, 1891 and the Maharashtra Coop Societies Act (MCSA) for the public to seek information regarding transactions of the bank.

The commissioner argued that since district cooperative banks enjoy monopoly under a Supreme Court order, which allows only one State Co-op Bank in each district and which gets direct or indirect assistance from the state government, they would be considered as Public Authorities. “After consultation with the state government, the legislature and the cooperative department secretary, I was convinced that cooperative banks fall under the RTI’s purview. Their function is also discussed in the legislature, hence they are public authorities. This will apply to all DCCBs in the state as an umbrella rule,” Joshi added.

This comes as a great relief to farmers across the state — particularly those in Vidharba — where many have committed suicide due to debt. “It will be useful for farmers as almost 70 per cent of all loans in the state to farmers come from DCCBs. This will help them get details from these banks, helping them plan and also know the status of their applications,” claimed Joshi.

BANKS ARGUE According to DCCBs, they are neither a body of self-government nor financed directly or indirectly by government funds and are therefore not a Public Authority Banks say that they are covered only by the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which restrict banks from supplying information and producing documents In the Babanrao Dhakne versus ADCCBL case, the bank claimed that there was no specific provision under the Banker’s Books Evidence Act, 1891, or the Maharashtra Coop Societies Act (MCSA) for the public to seek information on transactions of the bank

Publication: HT; Section: Metro; Pg:6; Date: 12/9/06 

 
 

 

 




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