New Delhi, June 5: The Central Information Commission has directed IDBI Bank to disclose details of alleged loan default by Gurgaon-based entertainment group Kingdom of Dreams in "larger public interest".
IDBI Bank, which is already being probed by CBI for alleged loan default of Rs 900 crore to Kingfisher Airlines, had denied information citing commercial confidence and fiduciary relationship with Kingdom of Dreams.
The website of Kingdom of Dreams says it "showcases modern and traditional India and present Indian culture in an entertaining format to all visitors. It offers you the best of India in the form of cuisine, crafts, musicals, dramas, carnivals, street dances, mythological shows and much more."
The CIC order came on the plea of Harinder Dhingra, who claimed that the bank had published a notice relating to the default in payment by Great India Nautanki Company Ltd. (GINC), which is also referred as Kingdom of Dreams, of outstanding amount of Rs 39.62 crore as on December 1, 2014 on the mortgage of land and building measuring 5.66 acres at HUDA Auditorium Complex, Sector 29, Gurgaon.
Dhingra claimed that the land was leased by HUDA and is not owned by the above company, as stated in the newspaper notice and the building in which the Kingdom of Dreams is operating was constructed by HUDA.
"The appellant submitted that disclosure of the information sought by him is a matter of larger public interest as it involves a large amount of public funds advanced by the bank to the above company. He stated that the total exposure of the bank to the above company is around Rs 120 crore," Information Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal noted. Sabharwal said according to Dhingra, the land pledged by the company to the bank was taken on lease by them for a period of 15 years at Rs 36 lakh per month, but rent has not been paid for a long time now.
"We pointed out that with the above actions taken by the bank, the issue of default by the company was already in the public domain.
Therefore, the decision of the bank to deny nearly all the information sought by the appellant was inexplicable. The respondents, in reply, once again cited Section 8 (1) (d) (commercial confidence) and (e) (fiduciary relationship) of the RTI Act," Sabharwal said.
He agreed that note that the information sought by the appellant is held by the bank in a fiduciary capacity and is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act, in the absence of a finding of larger public interest.
"However, given the facts of this case as stated by the appellant, which were not contested by the respondents and the fact that the respondents have already initiated recovery action against the company, in our view, disclosure of information in this case is a matter of larger public interest, particularly in the light of the grounds elaborated in another case, involving information regarding defaulters," the Information Commissioner directed.