Can’t share details of govt response on Sharia banking: RBI

The response given by the Finance Ministry on an RBI report about the introduction of Sharia banking in India cannot be disclosed, the central bank has said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was asked to give the copy of the letter sent to it by the ministry on the recommendation of its Inter Departmental Group (IDG) regarding Islamic banking.

The central bank had sought response from the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the finance minister whether their letter can be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

“In this regard we have been advised by the DFS, Government of India that the letter is exempt under Section 8 (1) (c),” the RBI said in response to an RTI application.

The Section bars disclosure of information “which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the state legislature”.

Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.

The RBI had earlier proposed opening of ‘Islamic window’ in conventional banks for gradual introduction of Sharia- compliant or interest-free banking in the country.

“In our considered opinion, given the complexities of Islamic finance and various regulatory and supervisory challenges involved in the matter and also due to the fact that Indian banks have no experience in this field, Islamic banking may be introduced in India in a gradual manner”.

“Initially, a few simple products which are similar to conventional banking products may be considered for introduction through Islamic window of the conventional banks after necessary notification by the government,” the RBI had told the Finance Ministry in a letter, copy of which was received in response to the RTI query.


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