2G case: Court exempts Ruias, Khaitans from personal appearance

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Parag Tripathi, appearing for Ruias and Khaitans respectively, moved separate applications for taking exemption from personal appearance for their clients on grounds including that they were residents of UAE and they have not been properly served with the summons

New Delhi: Promoters of Essar Group Anshuman and Ravi Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan were today granted exemption from personal appearance by a Delhi court, which had summoned them as accused in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case, reports PTI.

“Exemption applications of four accused (Ruias and Khaitans) are allowed for today only,” special CBI judge OP Saini said after taking note of submission of special public prosecutor UU Lalit that the agency was not opposing their plea.

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Parag Tripathi, appearing for Ruias and Khaitans respectively, moved separate applications for taking exemption from personal appearance for their clients on grounds including that they were residents of UAE and they have not been properly served with the summons.

Khaitans have also cited their “poor health” as additional ground in support of their exemption pleas.

“The case against us is not a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and, moreover, we have challenged the administrative order of the Delhi High Court by which this court was constituted to hear the 2G case,” Mr Rohatgi said.

The apex court would hear the matter on 1st March and the outcome would decide the forum and the course of trial against us, he added.

“If we win, then this case against us would be tried by a magistrate and if we lose then this matter will proceed before this court,” he said and sought a date of hearing during last week of March.

Vikas Saraf, Essar Group director (strategy and planning), however, appeared and moved his bail application before the court today which asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file a reply and posted it for hearing on 17th March.

The court asked the CBI to provide the copy of the charge-sheet along with all the relevant documents to the accused who have appeared before it.

The authorised representatives of three firms, Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India and Essar Tele Holdings which have also been charge sheeted along with their promoters also appeared today following the issuance of summons against them.

The CBI had filed its third charge-sheet arising out of probe in the 2G scam case on 12th December last year, on which the special court had taken cognisance and issued summons to the five accused and three companies.

However, the court issued fresh summons on 27th January against the accused persons as they did not appear before it in pursuance to its earlier order.

They had not appeared in the court on 27th January claiming the summons were not ‘duly’ served on them.

The apex court had on 15th February refused to grant interim stay on the summons issued to them but agreed to decide their plea challenging the jurisdiction of the special CBI court in hearing their case in the absence of corruption charge against them.

Essar, which has denied any involvement in the 2G case, contended the special court cannot proceed against them as they were not charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The telecom firms had said they have been charge-sheeted under Section 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and the charges were triable by a magistrate and not by the special court constituted under the Prevention of Corruption Act for hearing the 2G case.


Telenor dumps Unitech; to form new Indian venture

“Telenor Group has issued to Unitech a notice of voidance of the current shareholders’ agreement with Unitech on account of fraud and misrepresentation on their part as established by the Supreme Court judgement,” Telenor Group director communications (Asia) Glenn Mandelid said in a statement

New Delhi: Virtually dumping its partner Unitech, Norwegian telecom major Telenor Group today announced plans to set up a new company for carrying out its Indian operations post Supreme Court quashing its 22 licenses, reports PTI.

Telenor also sought damages from Unitech accusing it of “fraud and misrepresentation” of facts based on which it had invested over Rs6,000 crore in the joint venture with the real estate firm.

“Telenor Group has issued to Unitech a notice of voidance of the current shareholders’ agreement with Unitech on account of fraud and misrepresentation on their part as established by the Supreme Court judgement,” Telenor Group director communications (Asia) Glenn Mandelid said in a statement.

The Norwegian firm wants to transfer the business that was being done under the Uninor brand to the new company, where it will hold 74% stake and may rope in a minority Indian partner.

Expressing shock at Telenor’s announcement, Unitech in a statement said, it “cannot be held responsible” for cancellation of licenses and shareholders agreement “cannot be terminated by any party unilaterally”.

Telenor said the new entity will serve as the platform to approach the upcoming auctions for fresh licenses as mandated by the Supreme Court.

“As a part of this process, the new entity will also seek requisite approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to allow Telenor Group to take up 74% ownership," Mr Mandelid said.

Telenor will seek to transfer Uninor’s business, and seamlessly migrate its customers and employees, to the new company, Mr Mandelid added.

“Till such a time, Uninor operations continue as before,” he added.

Telenor said it does not need “the 75% shareholders vote” for transfer of the business to the new company as “Uninor is a private company”.

On the ability to unilaterally void shareholder agreement, the Norway-based company said “in case of a fraud and misrepresentation, Telenor can unilaterally declare the shareholder agreement void”.

Mr Mandelid said Telenor Group has, for more than a year, tried to secure Uninor’s long-term funding needs through a rights offer but the process has been blocked by Unitech.

“Telenor Group has taken full responsibility for the financial security of Uninor by solely and fully guaranteeing for all short-term funding needs,” he said.

Telenor Group said it has invested Rs6,135 crore through equity and over Rs8,000 crore in debt through corporate guarantees for ramping up Uninor’s operations.

Uninor, over period of two years, has secured over 40 million customers, a workforce of over 17,500 and a distribution network with more than 4 lakh points of sale, the statement said.

“In order to ensure a smooth transition for Uninor’s employees, customers and stakeholders, we expect that the Uninor board would, with prior consent from the Indian authorities, transfer Uninor’s business into this new company at a fair market value,” Mr Mandelid said.

Mr Mandelid added that this voidance will take place with a prospective affect and all rights that have accrued in the past shall consequently stand preserved.

“Till such time that Uninor’s business is transferred to the new Indian company, Uninor operations will continue as before. We now trust that the Indian authorities will conduct a swift and fair process such that new competition remains in the market,” Mr Mandelid said.

The Unitech stock trailed 0.14% at Rs35.45 apiece on the Bombay Stock Exchange in late morning trade today.


Are Public Information Officers really overburdened?

Is there a solution to the lack of will by government department heads in voluntarily providing information under Section 4 of the RTI Act, because of which information is primarily delayed? PricewaterhouseCoopers along with IMRB which conducted a study at the behest of the central government makes some valid observations and suggestions

The Supreme Court in a RTI judgment on 9 August 2011 made an observation that, “the nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties.”

It further states that, “the threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the Act should not lead to employees of a public authorities prioritising information furnishing, at the cost of their normal and regular duties”.

Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi states that, “if 75% of the government employees spend 75% of their time to provide information, it would imply that 56% (0.75x0.75) of the total time would be spent on giving information. If this possibility ever comes about it would be scary and undesirable.”

So Shailesh Gandhi decided to do a reality check and following are his observations:

  • According to the most optimistic estimate not more than one crore RTI applications are likely to be received in 2012 in all public authorities in the states and central government together.
  • The average time to attend each RTI application would be less than three hours. This means no more than three crore hours spent by all officers
  • If we assume that an average government employee works for just six hours a day for 200 days a year, it would mean he would work for a total of 1,200 hours in a year
  • Three crore hours divided by 1,200 hours is 25,000 which means 25,000 employees would be required full time
  • The central government and all state governments have about 1.2 crore employees totally. This means that the total time spent by government employees would be 0.208%. (25,000 divided by 1,20,00,000=0.208%)
  • To put this in the idiom of the Supreme Court’s observation, no more than 4.6% officials are spending 4.6% of their time presently on giving information. The Supreme Court’s observation has no connection with reality

In addition to these observations, the resistance by most government departments in not abiding by the norms of Section 4 of the RTI Act which mandates suo moto disclosure which includes majority of information which citizens desire and have the right to know, has compelled citizens to file RTI applications.  Subsequently, lack of systematic documentation in government offices also leads to unnecessary time being spent on gathering information for the applicant and leads to procrastination and hesitation in providing information by the Public Information Officers (PIOs).

In 2009, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), along with IMRB (market research partner), had been assigned by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to assess and evaluate the level of implementation of the Act with specific reference to the key issues and constraints faced by the “Information Providers and Information Seekers”.  The final report “Final Understanding the Key Issues and Constraints in implementing the RTI Act” has been published but most of the recommendations are gathering dust.  PwC has provided some noteworthy observations and recommendations.

I restrict myself to the section which highlights how well-equipped are government departments in dealing with RTI applications filed by citizens, in terms of training, usage of IT, basic infrastructure like Photostat machines and budgets.

The study states:

Record Management 

  • More than 38% of PIOs stated ineffective record management system for delay in processing
  • Approximately 43% of the PIOs were not aware of the record management guidelines


  • Approximately 45% of PIOs mentioned that they had not been provided training in RTI
  • Approximately 43% of PIOs were not aware of the proactive disclosure of their Pas
  • Approximately 39% of the PIOs were not aware of key SIC judgments
  • Training was limited to the provision of the RTI Act. Key aspects related to public dealing, motivation, technology, service levels, etc were not addressed
  • Usage of Information technology
  • Lack of software application

Low motivation of PIOs

  • Most of the PIOs have taken up the role unwillingly, leading to low motivation among them. Often, junior officers have been given the role of the PIOs and first appellate authority
  • There was a perception among PIOs that lack of adequate budget and infrastructure hampers RTI implementation
  • Approximately 89% PIOs said that there was no additional allocation of staff for RTI, while their work has increased 

The study observes: “The gaps highlighted above, are partly due to lack of clear accountability established through appropriate government rules and lack of controls to measure the level/effectiveness of implementation. This has been addressed in the report through detailing the roles and responsibilities of various entities and establishing a control mechanism through the use of IT.” 


  • Re-organisation of record management system to promote information management. A separate study is recommended to improve the current record management guidelines and make them “RTI friendly”
  • The following interventions in training to be taken
  • Knowledge Resource Centre should be the owner of developing and updating the training content
  • At the state level, the state nodal department agency should design a training implementation plan with support from the state administrative training institute and national training agency
  • Head of the public authority should own the responsibility of training the officials in its department through state administrative training institute or state empanelled agencies
  • Preparation of RTI ready plan
  • It is suggested that each public authority should do a self evaluation and identify areas of improvements and budget requirements. This would help in meeting the infrastructural needs thereby meeting the requirements of the Act

In order to ensure good performance of PIOs in implementing the RTI Act:

  • Allocation of responsibility of PIOs and AAs to senior level officials in a public authority is required
  • A mandatory column on the PIO’s performance must be added into the forms of Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs)/even if the posting as PIO is only a part of the overall responsibilities handled by him/her
  • A monetary incentive for the PIOs may be considered at a PA level. Often, the PIOs are liable to pay penalty, for reasons beyond their control. So while a penalty has been mandated by the Act, the PAs should also get rewarded for a good performance. This is important at places where PIOs handle a high volume of RTI applications
  • Specific software applications/“information request management” for implementation at public authority level and at the information commission
  • Usage of a RTI compliant standard template (Annexure 6) for quick and rationale responses to the applicant
  • The ARC report had suggested that as a one-time measure, GoI should earmark 1% of the funds of all flagship programmes for a period of five years for updating records, improving infrastructure, creating manuals etc (an amount not exceeding 25% of this should be utilised for awareness generation)
  • On the same lines, it is suggested that all central and state ministries/departments should earmark 1% of their planned budgets for implementing the recommendations suggested in this report

The PwC study also observed:

  • Submission at the PIO office is the most prevalent channel. However, over 26% of the citizens had to pay more than three visits to submit applications and 47% said no sign boards were present to help them with the process
  • Lack of an updated list of PIOs, which leads to citizen inconvenience (providing updated list of PIOs as per Section 4(1)(b) (xvi))
  • The payment of cash is the most prevalent channel. However, it has the inherent limitation of requiring the applicant to be present physically, whereas as per the Act, there is no such restriction. Most of the payment modes accepted by the public authorities have this inherent limitation
  • Inadequate help was provided to applicants or the attitude of PIOs was non-friendly (assistance is expected from PIOs as per section 5(3) and 6(1))
  • Approximately 89% of the PIOs were not using the provision of inspection of records by citizens, which led to delay in providing information. (As per section 2(j)(1), “inspection of work, documents, records” is a means to provide information under Right to Information Act)
  • Over 75% of the information seekers were dissatisfied with the quality of information provided
  • Encouraging accessibility to information is one of the major change management issues among government employees. For a government servant, there has been a significant shift from the “Official Secrets Act” mindset to the “Right to Information Act” mindset.

(Vinita Deshmukh is a consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])




TD Sharma

5 years ago

Sir, how much one must pay in bribes to elicit a response from a govt. servant, like IAS, MCD Commissioner and his officers, DDA chiefs, BSES people, DJB people, PSU Bank managers? Are there rates specified? Can some samaritan please give the info. for us the commoners?


5 years ago

Quite an useful article with a fund of information.SC's 75%X75% theory exposes the hollowness of the Sc's lack of depth of this subject at least.And Shailesh Gandhi has brought this out fairly strongly, by his enlightened work out of the time spent by the PIOs in dealing with RTI Applications.
The fact of the matter is that the Governments and the political masters are least concerned about the successful implementation of the ACT.Obviously it is to their disadvantage.
The RTI Activists over the country have to come together and do some thing quickly before the ACT gets an indecent burial.


P M Ravindran

In Reply to ARASU 5 years ago

Mr Arasu is being magnanimous while restricting the ignorance of the SC to RTI Act only. In fact the way the courts are designed in our country, you can have the biggest idiots sitting as judges and they can decide whom to favour with their decision and just copy/paste the arguments of the concerned party and grant that party's prayers without anybody having any opportunity to raise even an eyebrow. There after it is a matter of relative financial strength of the affected parties to pursue appeals after appeal and waste their time and money enriching only the unscrupulous advocates and judges. Of course one can plagiarise Constantin Demiris in Sydney Sheldon's The other side of Midnight and easily say that more crimes have been committed in the name of justice than by those who have been branded as criminals. Also it is only a truism that behind every successful criminal is an even more successful criminal lawyer and with every successful criminal lawyer is a successful criminal judge. In the Indian context these judges are also known as uncle judges and the process of advocates getting their services is called bench hunting!

C Jyoti

In Reply to P M Ravindran 5 years ago

Thank you, Mr. P M Ravindran for your very accurate hit. I salute you for these words, despite the so called "sensitivity quotient" of our judiciary, as one of the commentators wrote in this site.
Yes, our entire system has become a hoax, its transparency having become conspicuous by its nakedness! In fact, even people running media empires along with management teaching shops are not free from all these malaise, as I happened to find in another site relating to consumers'rights. And, in that case, the MCD cannot touch the media magnate for fear of exposure in print! RTI Act in India is worse than an eyewash. People will keep voting for bullets, money, wine and free sex and assemble at Ramlila Grounds in the name of anti-corruption movement while paying bribes under the threat of death every moment at every step all their lives. The rich do not mind, as they merely their loot with the bribe-takers (and in the process buy out the bribed officers/politicians), since this is all √ľnearned income"for all! But for the commoners, the bribe must come out of their hard earned money! Unjust enrichment is the unwritten right of the rich and the powerful. the bureaucrats, the politicians, the social butterflies, the entertainers of VVIP grade security, the cronies of the ruling elite and, of course, the media barons!

MK Gupta

5 years ago

I want to take advantage of this site to warn of the menace called the MCD. If any MCD staffer comes for inspection for any purpose, please get their names/designation, and see the IDs. They will say that they will issue a challan just for a meagre sum of Rs. 100/- (unless you offer them a fixed amount of Rs.3000) which has to be paid in the office. Actually, when the affected person goes to pay the sum of Rs. 100, he is faced with a court demand. The bribe is for the DC of the area in particular.


TD Sharma

In Reply to MK Gupta 5 years ago

This is the established practiice in the MCD and has been going on for years, as in the DDA too. The collections made through the bribes (read: forced payments taken under threat) are distributed among all, from top to bottom, including the area councillors. This is known to the CBI but since they also are in the same boat, no one can afford to take action. Usually, these are preceded by a visit by a Dy Commr. of the MCD, under intimation to the police and the MCD Commissioner and, at the slightest pretext and even for no fault of the householder, the roaming MCD goons come for collection. The rule is, the householder must offer a sum as the goons will only issue a challan in default of not offering anything. Once offered, depending on the size of the house and the standard of the householder, the rate will be disclosed and these people have the audacity of taking the money in the open. Once, someone respectable, told me that, on refusal to pay the demanded suim, the MCD staff (usually 3-5 at a time, some in flashy cars too) even tjhreatened that there would be a dacoity in the house and the youngmen in the house would be left murdered. When that gentleman tried to write the vehicle numbers, one of them took out his pistol and smiled. The gentleman was alone, the house construction was going on, there was no security, and he could not take the number of so many vehicles. One of them was carrying a walkie talkie and reporting to the DC, as boasted by the others. In India, it is only idiots or the most influential having political and bureaucratic support who can talk of RTI, anti-corruption, etc. The ordinary, common citizens, without any political clout and IAS/IPS support, must perish. This is the essential price for their life in a democracy.
MK Gupta need not feel sorry for initiating this debate, though a bit out of direct context, in this regard as the RTI hoax has really exposed that the entire system is corrupt. Not even a million Anna Hazares, a billion IAC supporters and a few Godmen aklong with some self-serving ex-civil servants can deliver any respite from atrocities. Anna should actually have targeted organizations like DDA, MCD, etc. instead of attacking the political power as the ruling people must be corrupt by rule. It is open secret that, for the last DDA allotments inter alia in Vasant Kunj area, the houses though complete are NOT being handed over UNLESS the allottees approach the JE in the area with the offer money of Rs. 25,000 and then top it up, at the time of taking possession, with a further sum of Rs. 25,000. The JEs have been authorised by the DDA top bosses to collect these "fees" and a refusal means the house/flat would be reallotted to someone else on the basis of false documents. MCD is also involved in this by way of refusing to give water connection (bribe Rs. 20000) and BSES, etc. charges Rs. 30000 per connection. All in the open.


In Reply to TD Sharma 5 years ago

I am aghast at the incredible feats of the MCD, DDA, BSES, etc., right under the nose of a proposed LOKPAL and the existing CBI, CVC, CIC, etc.! We indeed are a thriving and truly transparent democracy!

P M Ravindran

5 years ago

The RTI Act, its implementation or more precisely its subversion, is proof that the more threatening enemies of this nation are in its offices of government than beyond its borders!


Tira T

In Reply to P M Ravindran 5 years ago

Absolutely right. Yes, our enemies are all inside this country--ruling elite, including the political leaders, the bureaucrats, the public utility service providers, the huge companies, all those in authority and power to deliver/render service/justice, et al. In fact, India's invasion by foreign powers over thousands of years was possible only due to the internal and domestic enemies!


5 years ago

PIOs do nothing at all. This is just another paraphernalia created to hoodwink the public/taxpayers, not by the politicians but by our pampered and parasitic lot of bureaucrats so as to acquire more powers in their hands. With the politicians engaged entirely in building the financial future of their family in India and abroad, the top heavy administrative machinery
is busy finding ways of crippling the lives of the nameless nobodies whose only job is to merely lend their names for voting.In the CBDT, applicants seeking info. on the reasons for mindless rejection of their applications for sec.35CCA, despite their rightful claims and the yeomens service being rendered over three decades in the healthcare sector. In the4 field formations, the ITOs, the officers threaten any tax payer seeking to file any RTI application asking for copies of ordersheets, files, etc., straightaway reminding them that they have to approach the officers again.MCD, for instance, does not even care to respond to any application under the RTI and, unless the applicant is a VIP or rich, the officers send instead official goons to the houses of the applicants and openly threaten them. It is safer to keep quiet about the Delhi Police for reasons of life. There is not one PIO having any sense of duty to the taxpayers/citizens and all their action has got t6o be purchased. Not only lack of will, theseincompetent and inadequate--and corrupt--set of officers are under instructions to obstruct the efficacy of the Act. Of course, the super law of bribe giving overrides all their inertia!



In Reply to Nisban 5 years ago

Yes, rightly and succinctly said, in response to a brilliant piece. Bureaucrats are time servers, and those giving up the service and becoming wiser and starting anti-corruption and RTI campaigns are even more unreliable. Bureaucrats still strive the Parkindson's law of increasing the number of posts, extending the date of superannuation, getting pay commissions cut to size and making the reports for them, etc. They are by rule and nature, and also by training, just burdens on the society and must thus be redundant. Given the powers, they will nullify the rule of death too!

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