CIC Calls for Greater Transparency in Bank, Insurance Exams

The Central Information Commission has called for more accountability in the recruitment and promotion process in banks and insurance companies.

Central Information Commission. Credit: PTI

In a major decision which could make the bank exam system in India more transparent, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has noted that while Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), which conducts the exams, is not a public authority under section 2(h) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and therefore does not come under its purview, the banks and insurance companies for which it conducts the exams should provide all “information after getting records from IBPS”.

Transparency to benefit over four million candidates each year

With over four million candidates appearing for these exams each year, Chief Information Commissioner R. K. Mathur, while dealing with a complaint by Manas Kumar Sahoo, directed the centre to ensure that “where recruitment is being done for several banks, a nodal bank should be appointed which should receive all records from IBPS and reply to RTI applications and grievances.”

Incidentally, 15.08 million candidates had registered for various exams with IBPS in 2016-17 and 10.66 million were tested by it, according to the institute website.

The complainant had sought information on ten points relating to the selection procedure of the banks and name of participating banks in the examination conducted by the IBPS, among other things.

Following discussions on the issue, the CIC said that it had been held that IBPS was not a “public authority” under section 2(h) of the RTI Act and therefore not answerable under it. However, he said, the institute was “conducting various exams and interviews” for recruitment and promotions for the public sector banks and public sector insurance companies.

Mathur said it had been revealed that IBPS was “not giving replies to the queries/grievance of the candidates and employees participating in the exam/interview process” on the ground that it was not a public authority. He noted that IBPS makes its recommendations to the concerned banks, based on which the promotions or recruitment takes place.

Evolve accountability in recruitment, promotions

The commission held that public authorities like public sector banks and insurance companies should evolve a system to ensure accountability and transparency in the recruitment of candidates and promotion of employees.

It held that since the IBPS is working as an outsourced agent for these banks and insurance companies, being public authorities, these banks and insurance companies were “fully responsible as per the RTI Act, 2005, to maintain transparency and accountability in fresh recruitment and promotions”.

But with IBPS not providing the information, the commission held that “banks and insurance companies should be answerable to the candidates, employees and public for providing information on recruitment or promotion process.” They should also address grievances in these matters.

Recruitment, promotion process should be “above board”

Mathur said the commission had also been receiving a large number of appeals, complaints and grievances with regard to the recruitment or promotion process followed by IBPS. Therefore, he said, there was a need for transparency to ensure that recruitment or promotion processes were “above board”.

In a detailed order, the CIC said it was essential for banks or a nodal bank, in case the recruitment is for several, to obtain the information and provide it to the applicants as it would “restore the confidence of the public” in the recruitment or promotion process of the banks and insurance companies.

IBPS director advised to reply to complaints

Wide publicity to this arrangement should be given to enable candidates, employees or public to lodge RTI applications, he added, while advising that “in the interest of transparency and accountability,” the director of IBPS would do well to reply to the complainants even if the institute was not a public authority.

The CIC also marked his order to secretary, department of financial services in the ministry of finance, with the advise that necessary action be taken in view of the observations made by him.

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  • It’s interesting to see the trajectory of transparency in India, as though transparency is an interloper and should willy-nilly be kept at bay as much and as long it’s possible! Though a private body, the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) works as an outsourced agent for the banks and insurance companies who come under RTI Act 2005, and hence must follow the rules and provisions applicable statutorily to these institutions. This is a good order by the CIC. More than the banks/insurance companies responding to RTI applications, it’s rather that the agreement signed with the IBPS specifically assigns this task to them.