1-yr residential programme to groom finance professionals

The diploma will be offered by Sakthi Excellence Academy (SEA) in partnership with Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore

Sakthi Finance Ltd, part of the Sakthi Group with diversified business interests, has embarked on an 'intensive on-the-job' one-year residential training programme to groom future finance professionals.

The diploma will be offered by Sakthi Excellence Academy (SEA) in partnership with Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore, a company release said. During the course, candidates would be put on a rigorous training in banking, insurance and financial services under international faculty and experts, it said. In addition to providing accommodation and food for trainees at nominal cost, the company will offer a stipend of Rs48,000 through the year of study.

A conservative estimate pegs the needs of the company at more than 600 professionals over the next 10 years and programme will accommodate a total of 40 students. The Shakti Group has business interests in sugar, transport, dairy, education, automotive transport, besides finance.

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CIC says pulling out CBI from scope of RTI Act is a violation of the law itself

Central Information Commissioner says Central Bureau of Investigation cannot be categorised as an “intelligence” or “security” organisation, as it traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment which was set up in 1941

In a recent order dated 9th June, the central government has amended the RTI Act and placed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) out of the orbit of transparency, by including it in the Second Schedule which exempts "intelligence and security organisations established by the central government" from the purview of the RTI Act.

However, in a powerful and hard-hitting order by the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi on 11th June, the government's move has been seen as a violation of the norms of the RTI Act, as the CIC questions the nature of the CBI which is purely a "police establishment" and does not come under "intelligence'' and "security" as categorised by the central government. As per the RTI Act only "investigative and intelligence" agencies can come under the Second Schedule qualifications.

The CIC order is based on a second appeal made by a citizen who was not provided information by a public information officer (PIO) of the CBI, under the pretext that it is not under the purview of the RTI Act.

The CIC ruled that "no reason has been given by the DOPT or the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, as required under Section 4(1)( d) of the RTI Act" for bringing the CBI under the Second Schedule, along with the National Intelligence Agency and National Intelligence Grid. Hence, the order says, "In the absence of reasons, inclusion of CBI in the Second Schedule along with National Intelligence Agency and National Intelligence Grid appears to be an arbitrary act."

In the backdrop of heavyweight corporate leaders and influential politicians coming under the scanner of the premier investigative agency, which traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment Act, the timing of this decision is strange and hints at protecting the corrupt from the watchful eyes of the citizenry. What else can one derive when the reason given by the central government to pull it out of RTI Act is because the CBI addresses "investigations of several politically sensitive cases which have inter-state and international ramifications"?

Chennai-based RTI activist S Vijaylakshmi has knocked the doors of the Madras High Court, which in turn has asked the CBI to explain why it cannot come under the RTI Act. RTI activists across the country are livid over the government's move, and leading RTI campaigner Aruna Roy has said that she will take up the issue with the National Advisory Council chaired by UPA president Sonia Gandhi.

The CIC's order pertains to a second appeal made by Allahabad-based Justice RN Mishra demanding a first information report (FIR) lodged by the CBI and the report of the superintendent of police, CBI, in a provident fund scam case. The PIO denied the information for various reasons and stated that, "as per notification dated 9.6.2011 of the Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Annexure 'C') CBI has been included in the Second Schedule of the RTI Act, 2005 at Sl. No. 23". This propelled judge Mishra, who was one of the accused in the scam, to go for a second appeal to the CIC.

The CIC, Mr Gandhi, stated in his order, quoting generously from the CBI website (http://cbi.nic.in) :

CBI does not qualify to be an intelligence or security organisation

"…under Section 24(2) of the RTI Act, the Central Government has been given the power to include any other intelligence or security organisations, apart from the 18 in the original list-within the Second Schedule-by way of a notification. This power does not appear to have been extended to any other body, and is restricted to only intelligence or security organisations. In view of the same, it becomes pertinent to understand whether the CBI qualifies as "intelligence or security organisation" as per Section 24(2) of the RTI Act."

The CBI was formerly a special police establishment outfit
"The Commission has perused the CBI website and the relevant extracts thereof have been reproduced below:

The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India. The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Department of India during World War II. Even after the end of the War, a need was felt for a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees. The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was therefore brought into force in 1946. The CBI's power to investigate cases is derived from this Act."

CBI investigates offences of bribery and corruption


"The Delhi Special Police Establishment acquired its current name, CBI, through a home ministry resolution dated 01/04/1963. The relevant provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, which describe the powers of CBI are provided as follows:

2. Constitution and powers of police establishment, (1) Notwithstanding anything in the Police Act, 1861 (5 of 1861), the Central Government may constitute a special police force to be called the Delhi Special Police Establishment 2[***] for the investigation 3 [in any 4 [Union territory]] of offences notified under section 3.

(2) Subject to any order which the Central Government may make in this behalf, Members of the said police establishment shall have throughout 5 [any 4 [Union territory]] in relation to the investigation of such offences and arrest of persons concerned in such offences, all the powers, duties, privileges and liabilities which police officers of six [that Union territory] have in connection with the investigation of offences committed therein.
 
What types of crimes does the CBI investigate today?

The CBI has grown into a multi-disciplinary investigation agency over a period of time. Today, it has the following three divisions for investigation of crime.

(i) Anti-Corruption Division - for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against public officials and employees of the central government, public sector undertakings, corporations or bodies, owned or controlled by the government of India-it is the largest division having presence in nearly all the states of India.

(ii) Economic Offences Division - for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to fake Indian currency notes, bank frauds and cyber crimes.

(iii) Special Crimes Division - for investigation of serious, sensational and organised crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the request of the state governments, or on the orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

The laws under which the CBI can investigate crime are notified by the central government under section 3 of the DSPE Act.

What is the difference between the nature of the cases investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the CBI?

The NIA was constituted after the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, mainly for investigation of incidents of terrorist attacks, funding of terrorism and other terror-related crime, whereas the CBI investigates crimes of corruption, economic offences and serious and organised crime, other than terrorism.
 
Does CBI perform any other important function other than investigation of crime?

Yes. The CBI has been notified as the Interpol of India. CBI has a training academy in Ghaziabad, where it organises training courses on various subjects, not only for its own officers, but for officers from other countries, as well as from state & union territory police organisations, vigilance officers of public sector undertakings, banks, and so on."

The CIC further states in his order: "On a careful perusal of the material, it can be ascertained that the CBI was established for the purposes of investigation of specific crimes including corruption, economic offences and special crimes. It continues to discharge its functions as a multi-disciplinary investigating agency and evolve more effective systems for investigation of specific crimes. Members of the CBI have all the powers, duties, privileges and liabilities which police officers have in connection with the investigation of offences.

The CBI does not claim it is involved in intelligence gathering or is a security organisation


"There is no claim in its mandate and functions, as described above, that the CBI is involved in intelligence gathering or is a security organisation. Even the additional functions performed by the CBI, other than investigation of crimes, do not include any function which would lend it the character of an intelligence or security organisation. In view of the same, the CBI does not appear to fit the description of an "intelligence or security organisation" under Section 24(2) of the RTI Act.

In case the CBI wants to deny information, use Section 8 of the RTI Act

"Even by virtue of the fact that certain organisations such as the CBI, during the course of investigation, may touch upon terrorist-related crimes or matters that may have an impact on the security of the nation, the same cannot be a reason for classifying such an organisation as intelligence or security organisation. If such a claim was to be accepted, it would mean that every organisation which is involved in some investigation or the other, including the police, would come within the realm of Section 24(2) of the RTI Act. {break}

Should the Ministry of Railways be classified as an "intelligence" organisation if one of its trains is attacked with bombs?

The absurdity of this proposition may be seen in the instances where terrorists have launched bomb attacks on trains, and the Ministry of Railways and other local authorities may obtain certain information which can be classified as "intelligence", or such information that may have an impact on the security of the nation. However, this cannot be reason to bring the Ministry of Railways, or such other authorities, within the Second Schedule of the RTI Act. It is pertinent to note that on the CBI website, in response to FAQ 6, it has been clearly stated that the CBI investigates crimes of corruption, economic offences and serious and organised crimes, other than terrorism.

Even where organisations such as the CBI may obtain certain information that can be classified as 'intelligence', or may have an impact on the security of the nation, the same may be sought to be exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. The Right to Information is a fundamental right of citizens embedded in Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India. When parliament codified the said right in the form of the RTI Act, it took care to lay down ten exemption clauses in Section 8(1) on the basis of which information may be denied to citizens, unless there was a larger public interest. The exemptions contained in Section 8(1) of the RTI Act are adequate and comprehensive to ensure that disclosure of information does not inter alia compromise national security, or impede the process of investigation, or apprehension, or prosecution, or endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.

Therefore, even at the cost of abridging the fundamental right to information of citizens, parliament identified certain bodies as "intelligence and security organisations" that required to be protected from disclosure of information to serve a greater purpose. These organisations were consequently included in the Second Schedule.
 
It is not plausible that parliament could have omitted to include CBI under the Second Schedule at the outset

Parliament envisaged that during the course of time, there may be certain additions as well as omissions to the Second Schedule. Therefore, under Section 24(2) of the RTI Act, the central government was given the power to inter alia amend the Second Schedule by notification in the Official Gazette, by including therein any other intelligence or security organisation established by that government, or by omitting such organisation which is already specified.

Given the stature and mandate of the CBI, it does not seem plausible that parliament could have inadvertently omitted to include CBI in the Second Schedule when the RTI Act was being enacted. In fact, it may be inferred that it was certainly not the intent of parliament to include investigating agencies within the purview of Section 24(1) of the RTI Act. If it was intended that parliament be given the power to include even investigating agencies in the Second Schedule subsequently, then Section 24(2) of the RTI Act would have expressly provided for the same.
 
The government appears to have stretched the information too far


By enacting the notification and bringing the CBI within the Second Schedule, the government appears to have increased the scope of Section 24(2) of the RTI Act, which was not envisaged by parliament. Given the fact that the Right to Information is a fundamental right, any provision by which the said right is sought to be curtailed must be strictly construed.

The government, however, appears to have stretched the interpretation of Section 24(2) of the RTI Act far beyond what parliament had intended, by including an investigating agency such as the CBI within the Second Schedule, which was envisaged exclusively for intelligence or security organisations.

The government has read additional qualifications into Section 24(2) of the RTI Act which were hitherto not contemplated. By this method the government could keep adding organisations to the Second Schedule, which do not meet the express criteria laid down in Section 24(2) of the RTI Act and ultimately render the RTI Act ineffective. The government cannot frustrate a law made by parliament by resorting to such colourable administrative fiat.
 
It is a step to avoid gaze and monitoring of citizens in matters of corruption

…Therefore, by enacting the notification and placing the CBI in the Second Schedule, the government appears to be claiming absolute secrecy for the CBI without the sanction of law. The RTI Act was a promise to citizens by parliament of transparency and accountability. Given that the previous year was characterised by the unearthing of various scams in government which are now being investigated by the CBI, the inclusion of the CBI in the Second Schedule by the government would be considered to be a step to avoid the gaze and monitoring of citizens in matters of corruption.
 
It is incumbent on the government to provide reasons for constricting the citizen's fundamental right to information

Furthermore, under Section 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act, it is mandated that every public authority shall provide reasons for its administrative or quasi judicial decisions to affected persons. Even in the absence of the said provision, it is a basic tenet of democracy that where the government takes any major decision which would affect the citizens, it must inform the citizens of the reasons for its actions.

It is incumbent on the government to provide the reasons for constricting the citizen's fundamental right to information. In this case, the Commission has noted that neither in the notification, nor on its website or otherwise, the DOPT or the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has provided any reasons for including CBI in the Second Schedule. Such an administrative decision has a profound impact on the citizens of India inasmuch as it restricts their fundamental right to information.

It is time for citizens and citizen groups to build up pressure by campaigning against this malicious move by the government.

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COMMENTS

NKAgarwal

5 years ago

It is quite a reasoned order from CIC

RNandakumar

5 years ago

congrats and hearty thanks for saving the RTI ACT from the veste interest. This piece of elaborate information should also embolden CBI to invigourate it for fasterprobe into 2G scam which makes the present govt highly devious in its public postures.

M K TYAGI

5 years ago

Hats off to IIT'ian Shailesh Gandhi for BOLD DECISION.

Nagesh KiniFCA

5 years ago

Absolutely agree with the CIC.
The CBI, President, PM, Judiciary, Armed Forces should no longer be treated as Sacred Cows to be worshipped. They are also humans and found to have feet of clay and susceptible to dipping their fingers. After all we the people paying their salaries and they should be made accountable to the aam admi. No exceptions for anyone whatsoever!

Kris Dev

5 years ago

All actions of all individuals and organizations including government organizations must be transparent to public. This can be ensured only if all information is made electronic. Information storage must be controlled by the individual similar to a bank locker. But if any citizen or organization(s) has doubt(s) on the genuineness of any action, the same can be challenged and the concerned must hold themselves accountable to make transparent the details

The only way to ensure this is to make all transaction tracking mandatory using Biometric Smart card with ample security.

B V KRISHNAN

5 years ago

Even after several scams the Govt has still not guaged the mood of the public. This blatant protection of the corrupt by excluding CBi from the RTI is another blunder of the Manmohan Singh Govt and they will pay dearly for this during the next election.

Nitin Kirtane

5 years ago

Yes the CBI has to come under the RTI act , very surprising move to keep it out of this act , as they are scared of the innumerable cases going on and if CBI comes under RTI government will be more scared as their ministers will be in trouble, an excellent article by Mrs Deshmukh again to take this issue up , keep up the good work in taking up these issues , i am enjoying reading your articles NK

Babubhai Vaghela Ahmedabad 9427608632

5 years ago

When the Act is Promulgated by the Parliament, can Govt exclude CBI from the Act without Parliament approval. If not, then earlier exclusion of Income Tax Directorate of Investigation would also be illegal and unconstitutional. I would request you to kind get this legal point verified by legal luminaries.

REPLY

Vinita Deshmukh

In Reply to Babubhai Vaghela Ahmedabad 9427608632 5 years ago

Dear Mr Vagehla - i consulted Central Information Commissioner Mr Shailesh Gandhi and here is his explanation that yes Public Authorities can be excluded under the act: Section 24 of the RTI Act:
(1) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government:
Provided that the information pertaining. to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:
Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, such information shall be provided within forty five days from the date of the receipt of request;
(2) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, amend the Schedule by including therein any other intelligence or security organisation established by that Government or omitting therefrom any organisation already specified therein and on the publication of such notification, such organisation shall be deemed to be included in or, as the case may be, omitted from the Schedule.
(3) Every notification issued under sub-section (2) shall be laid before each House of Parliament.
Thus as per Section 24 (2) the Government can include or omit organisations from Scedule 2 by a notification and such a notification only needs to be laid in the Parliament subsequently

Babubhai Vaghela

In Reply to Vinita Deshmukh 5 years ago

Thanks Seen - (3) Every notification issued under sub-section (2) shall be laid before each House of Parliament. The crucial question is what for it will be laid and when shall it be laid to Parliament. For information or ratification. If for information then it amounts to Govt taking over the power to amend the Act without Parliament approval. Is Govt authorised to do? If for approval, then it that case, whether Notification comes into effect only after ratified by Parliament or earlier. In any case, in my openion, when Act is promulgated by Parliament, Govt cannot & should not have the authority to amend Act without Parliament approval.

SKS Microfinance staffers swindled Rs1.60 crore in FY10-11: Auditors

According to the company, the auditors have identified as many as 156 cases of cash embezzlement by its employees, aggregating to Rs1.60 crore during the last financial year

Hyderabad: The auditors of SKS Microfinance have 'identified' 156 cases of alleged cash embezzlement by some of its employees, who conned the firm to the tune of Rs1.60 crore during FY10-11, reports PTI.

According to the company, the auditors have identified as many as 156 cases of cash embezzlement by its employees, aggregating to Rs1.60 crore during the last financial year.

"We have been informed that 52 of these employees were absconding. The outstanding balance (net of recovery) aggregating Rs9,634,467 has been written off," said company's auditors SR Batliboi & Co in the annual report.

The services of the concerned employees involved in the fraud have been terminated and the company is in the process of taking legal action against them, the auditors said.

The auditors have also brought under its lens 205 such cases where loans were disbursed to non-existent borrowers on the basis of fictitious documents created by the SKS staffers, aggregating Rs4.50 crore during the financial year.

The company had to write off the outstanding loan balance (net of recovery) aggregating Rs35,417,295.

Besides, 47 cases of impersonation in borrowing loans from the lender to the tune of Rs1.38 crore were also reported during the year, the report said.

SKS Microfinance is pursuing the borrowers to repay the loan amount, while the outstanding loan balance (net of recovery) aggregating Rs6,386,267 has been written off, it said.

"The net impact of frauds comes to around 0.07% of the total loan amount disbursed during the year. The company is working toward reducing this percentage by making process improvements, covering the losses by having an adequate insurance policy and by increasing opportunities for direct contact with our borrowers.

"During the year, the company has recovered an amount of Rs0.96 crore against fraud amount written off in the previous years," SKS Microfinance said.

SKS Microfinance executive chairman Vikram Akula remarked, "There was an external political attack on microfinance that culminated into draconian provisions of a microfinance law passed in Andhra Pradesh, the Andhra Pradesh MFI Act."

The Act has resulted in a slight reduction, up to 5%, in the company's growth, the report said.

The MFI Act mandates prior approval of every loan application by state government authorities.

It was promulgated in the wake of a spate of suicides by borrowers, allegedly due to the coercive recovery practices employed by the MFI agents.

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