Former additional solicitor general Altaf Ahmed and senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Morani respectively, submitted that the situation of their clients was akin to that of the five corporate executives, who were granted bail by the Supreme Court on Wednesday
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court will on Friday hear bail pleas of DMK MP Kanimozhi and five other accused in the 2G case, advancing the hearing of their petitions from 1st December, reports PTI.
“All the bail applications would be heard tomorrow at 10.30am,” justice VK Shali said today.
The accused, who include former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and filmmaker Karim Morani, had pleaded that their bail applications should come up today itself but the court said they will be taken up tomorrow, advancing the date of their hearing from 1st December.
Others whose bail pleas will be heard tomorrow are DMK-run Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar and private firm Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd directors Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal.
During the proceedings, former additional solicitor general Altaf Ahmed and senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Morani respectively, submitted that the situation of their clients was akin to that of the five corporate executives, who were granted bail by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“We are either similarly or better placed in relation to the accused who have already been granted bail. If possible, please list them for hearing today itself,” Mr Luthra said.
“Don’t send a wrong message to the general public that you are high and mighty,” the court said while refusing to accede to their contention.
Additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, appearing for CBI, cited the apex court judgement on the bail applications of the five corporate executives, He, however, did not make his stand clear on whether he was supporting or opposing their petitions.
Ms Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, was sent to Tihar Jail on 20th May, while others in the case were arrested between 2nd February and 30th May, when Mr Morani was taken into custody.
Except Mr Behura, all the five accused, whose bail pleas are pending with the high court at present, were named in the second CBI’s charge-sheet, which dealt with the alleged routing of Rs200 crore bribe through various firms to Kalaignar TV at the instance of Swan Telecom’s promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, a co-accused in the scam.
The apex court had granted bail to five corporate honchos—Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surendra Pipara, raising the hopes of early release of other jailed accused in the case.
Former telecom minister A Raja, who was among the first to be arrested in the case along with his private secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Mr Behura on 2nd February, is yet to move any court for bail.
Two others, Mr Chandolia and Shahid Usman Balwa, are yet to approach the high court against the trial court’s 3rd November order, rejecting their bail pleas along with those of Ms Kanimozhi and five others, who have challenged the decision.
Studies show that the fees, paid at civic hospital for treatment, is the biggest impediment for the poor to use the public healthcare facilities
The free public healthcare system seems to be of little use for the poor. According to few studies, the user fee, paid by the patient at the time of using the public healthcare facilities, has kept the poor away from using the healthcare facilities.
According the policy brief complied by Centre for Enquiry Into Health and Allied Themes, only 2.47% patients were exempted from paying the fees on basis of their being below poverty line (BPL) category, although the number of BPL population is 37%. In Punjab only 0.4% of the BPL card holder were treated free and a common review of National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) observed that Chhattisgarh charges user fees for 95% of its public health facility users, the study sais. CEHAT is a Mumbai-based organisation involved in healthcare research and advocacy in Maharashtra.
“There has been evidence from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), which show that the utilisation of public health facilities has declined in the last two decades. User fee was introduced in India in the 1990’s as a part of health sector reforms and many studies show that levying user fee is an important factor that has contributed to decrease in utilisation of the public health facilities,” it says.
User fee is charged by developing nations, mainly because – it generates additional revenues, it would improve efficiency of healthcare delivery by reducing frivolous demand and equitable health services access. User fee revenues could also be used to cross-subsidise the disadvantages.
“In a situation like India where middle and high middle income groups have already abandoned the public sector, there is complete lack of familiarity with the health care supply situation as well as the gap between the actual supply and norms to even suggest that the public health facilities are crowded and that it is because of the frivolous demand by the masses, the policy note prepared by CEHAT says.
Anjali Kulkarni, a healthcare expert with experience in working in rural Maharashtra, says, “Only BPL card holders and senior citizen are exempted from user fees and many patients are denied this facility due to lack of documents. While working closely with a civic hospital, I had seen that the various machine and equipments that were supposed to be regularly maintained by using revenues earned from user fees, are in poor condition. This defeats the purpose of charging user fees. So there is no rationale behind charging such fees from patients.”
Under the present guidelines, people from the BPL category are exempted from paying user fees at civic healthcare facilities. However, it has failed to protect the poor. “A study conducted in Bareilley, UP found that in 1999-2000, out of a total of 1.70 lakh outpatients at MPDH hospital, only 477 were treated free of cost. In 2000-01, out of 1.41 lakh outpatients, only 449 were treated free of cost,” CEHAT stated in note.
Surprisingly, many African nations, which are always labelled as ‘poor country’, have successfully abolished user fees. CEHAT says, “It is quite unfortunate that despite the mountain of evidence that exists against charging user fees in government hospitals, Indian government is yet to rectify its policy decision.”
The CIC said that since significant amount of public funds are kept in banks and therefore, the public has the right to know how these banks are functioning
In another victory for RTI activists, the Central Information Commission has directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to disclose names of banks which have been penalised or served show-cause notices for violation of laws. The central bank has tried to stonewall such information in the name of protecting fiduciary and commercial interests earlier too; but the CIC has pulled up the apex bank once again.
While hearing an appeal from Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Shailesh Gandhi at CIC ruled that citizens have the right to know what the banks are doing and where they have kept their money. Drawing from its earlier ruling regarding disclosing information about defaulting cooperative banks (read CIC to RBI: Reveal inspection reports of cooperative banks), the CIC said, “The PIO is directed to provide the complete information to the appellant before 15 December 2011 after severing details of customer-related information and particulars of informers/ whistle blowers/ source of information.”
The PIO had earlier refused to divulge details of banks served show-cause notice by the RBI, saying that it will “prejudicially affect the economic interests of the state and harm the bank’s competitive position. The SCNs/findings/reports/associated correspondences/orders are therefore exempt from disclosure.” However, Mr Agrawal went for appeals, which upheld the CPIO’s denial. Dissatisfied, Mr Agrawal approached the CIC. Mr Gandhi dismissed the apex bank’s reasoning that the information would harm the nation’s economic or any other interests.
Criticising RBI’s logic, Mr Gandhi said, “This appears to go against the basic tenets of democracy and transparency. The information sought pertains to imposition of fines by RBI on certain banks for violation of rules including documents, correspondence, file notings, etc, list of banks which were issued show-cause notices before imposition of fine along with the type of default, and list of those banks on which fine was ultimately not imposed along with details. This bench is unable to understand how disclosing this information would affect the economic interests of the Indian nation. Financial stability of a nation cannot lie solely on public confidence in banks/financial institutions, and certainly not where banks/financial institutions holding public funds are involved in irregularities. The submissions of the respondent appear to suggest that the economic state of this nation is extremely fragile and therefore, the information sought should not be disclosed.”
The CIC said that since significant amount of public funds are kept in banks and therefore, the public has the right to know how these banks are functioning. “I believe it will only help to improve the fundamental strength of the economic foundations of the country and safeguard against sudden disruptions,” observed Mr Gandhi.
Analysing a high court precedent which had upheld the RTI against other interests, Mr Gandhi also pointed out the irregularities present in Banking Regulation Act, 1949. He said, “Section 35 appears to impose restrictions on access to information held by or under the control of RBI in as much as the inspection reports shall be provided only to the banking company, or can be published only by the central government after notifying the banking company. This is prima facie inconsistent with the RTI Act, which mandates disclosure of information unless exempted under Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. Therefore, in accordance with Section 22 of the RTI Act, the provisions of the RTI Act shall override the provisions.”