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State Bank of India cards under RTI net

September 07, 2007 15:45 IST
The Central Information Commission has ruled that SBI Cards -- a joint venture between state-owned SBI and General Electric -- is a public authority, allowing customers to seek any information about the entity under the Right to Information Act.

Disposing of separate applications by SBI Cards customers Arun Kumar Verma and Dileep Ayachit, CIC has directed the SBI to take a decision on setting up a proper information redressal mechanism within 15 days.

The CIC has given SBI the option to either designate its own officers for providing information about SBI Cards or set up a separate mechanism within the subsidiary to provide information under the provisions of the RTI Act.

"...SBI, being a public authority, should ensure
that some agency is available to answer the citizens when they seek information about their own cards. It can not wash off its responsibility after having allowed SBI Cards to use its brand name and logo," Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian said in his decision.

The card holders filed the application with CIC after SBI and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) turned down their request for information on the ground that SBI Cards was not a "public authority" within the meaning of the RTI Act.

The CIC ruled that SBI Cards was a public authority as SBI owns more than 51 per cent shares in the JV.

SBI holds 60 per cent equity in the SBI Cards, which was incorporated in 1998. The remaining portion is owned by GE.
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