Section 7 of the RBI Act empowers the government to issue directions necessary for public interest to the RBI from time to time after consultation with the RBI governor.
"Both government and the central bank, in their functioning, have to be guided by public interest and the requirements of the Indian economy".
The issue of Section 7 first came up during an Allahabad High Court hearing on a case filed by Independent Power Producers challenging an RBI circular issued on 12 February.
Jaitley had on Tuesday blamed the RBI for failing to stop a lending spree between 2008-2014 that left banks with huge bad debts, inflaming a row that recently erupted between the government and the central bank.
Voicing support for Patel, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said if the governor decides to leave, the blame would fall on Jaitley.
According to the RBI, if repayment is delayed by even one day, the account should be seen as stressed and the banks would be required to initiate resolution. RBI and the government have reportedly been at the loggerheads over several issues including the government demanding ease in lending rules for at least 11 banks under prompt corrective action (PCA) framework, while the regulator thinks otherwise. There had been an irreversible breakdown between Patel and the government, CNBC TV said, adding all options were on the table. "There have been talks with the RBI on these issues, but invoking Section 7 (1) is something that has not come up yet but we need to also ensure that industries are not killed", he added.
"Only the final decisions taken are communicated".
In open letter, All India Reserve Bank Employees Association says govt must desist from nibbling at central bank's autonomy and let it do its job in an unfettered way, else it will incur the wrath of financial markets. The government, through these consultations, places its assessment on issues and suggests possible solutions. In particular, the central bank is not directly subject to political time pressures and the induced neglect of the future; by virtue of being nominated rather than elected, central bankers have horizons of decision-making that tend to be longer than that of governments, spanning election cycles or war periods.
The Finance Ministry on Wednesday acknowledged that the autonomy of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is an "essential and accepted governance requirement", but it neither confirmed nor denied that it had issued directives to the bank under Section 7 of the RBI Act. "The Government will continue to do so".