HDFC Bank Limited & Ors Vs Union of India & Ors (Supreme Court)

Court: Supreme Court of India
Head Notes:

HDFC Bank Limited & Ors Vs Union of India & Ors(Supreme Court)
Date-30th September, 2022
Sub-Whether decision of Supreme Court can be questioned under Article 32 of the Constitution of India? Whether Right to information can be allowed to supersede Right to Privacy?

This is one of those rarest of rare cases where the Supreme Court observed that to “ to err is human and courts including apex court is no exception” (See Para 34). This was in the context of disclosure of confidential and sensitive information pertaining to the affairs of the banks , their employees and customers under Right to Information Act, 2005.

The petitioner banks challenged the decision in the case of Reserve Bank of India Vs Jayantilal N Mistry (2016) 3 SCC 525(SC) which had held that RBI had committed contempt of court by exempting disclosure of material that was directed to be given by the court and had also held that RBI is duty bound to furnish all information relating to inspection report and other material.

It was submitted that Right to Privacy has been upheld in several decisions and the aforesaid decision of Supreme Court did not take into this aspect. Reliance was made on the principles of “ex debito Justitiae” i.e., rules of procedure are handmaidens of justice and not the mistress of justice.

The court after referring to catena of decisions held that to prevent abuse of its process and to cure a gross miscarriage of justice, the Court may reconsider its judgments in exercise of its inherent power since once a judicial satisfaction is reached that the direction was not open to be made and it is accepted as a mistake of the court, it is not only appropriate but also the duty of the court to rectify the mistake by exercising its inherent powers and there is no higher forum above Supreme Court. The court finally admitting that a balance has to be struck between Right to Privacy and Right to information, allowed the banks Writ under Article 32 rejecting preliminary challenge by the interveners.

This judgement will be of immense help in dealing with those cases where there is a glaring mistake in the judgement of any court.

Ramesh Patodia

Section(s): Right to Information Act 2005, Article 32 of constitution of India, Right to Privacy and Right to Information
Counsel(s): Counsels
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Date of upload: October 1, 2022

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