Right to Information
365 days later, Govt still unable to find information commissioners; activist demands answers

When it comes to appointments of the crucial post of Central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners, the Modi government, despite having followed all procedures of calling for applicants and shortlisting, has not been able to identify any one

 

Is Rocket Science required to appoint the Chief Central Information Commissioner and the three Information Commissioners that the government had advertised for? Today, it is exactly one year since applications were invited from the public to apply for these posts, but yet it is a suspicious silence from the Prime Minister’s Office:
 
Look at this timeline
 
On 25 February 2014 (exactly a year back), the government advertised for the posts of information commissioners
 
On 16 July 2014, the government again advertised for Posts of ICs in CIC
 
On 23 August 2014, CIC Rajiv Mathur retired and two months later, on 24 October 2014, the newly formed BJP government advertised the post of Central Chief Information Commissioner
 
On 16 January 2015, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has invited the Search Committee members comprising the cabinet secretary, Rashtrapati Bhavan (chairman); Additional Principal Secretary to PM; Secretary, DoPT; Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; Secretary, Dept of Expenditure and Professor Ram Chand, National Centre for Agricultural Economics & Policy. They were scheduled to meet at the cabinet secretariat of Rashtrapati Bhavan on 16th January. On the same day, another meeting to draw a panel for information commissioners will also take place. 
 
Thereafter, the candidates for the post of Information Commissioners and the CIC have been shortlisted but no action has been taken.
 
Irked by this inordinate delay, which has resulted in piling up of pending cases, about 38,000 as against 22,300 on 25th February last year (figures procured under RTI Act) leading Delhi based RTI activist, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd), has now filed an RTI application. Cmde Batra, who has been tenaciously following up this issue, has sought details of the follow up after the shortlisting of the candidates from the Cabinet Secretariat of Rashtrapati Bhavan. He has sought inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
 
His RTI application has demanded the following information:
 
1. Background As per information received through RTI, Hon’ble Prime Minister has accorded approval for constitution of ‘Search Committee’ headed by Cabinet Secretary for recommending / short listing panel(s) of names to the ‘Selection Committee’ for appointments of Chief Information Commissioner and 03 Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC)’. The first meeting of the “Search Committee’ was to be held on 16.01.2015 and the 2nd meeting on 06.02.2015.
 
2. In the above background /context, please provide me following information. 
a) Please intimate the procedure /criterion applied /being applied for short listing panel(s) of names for the ‘Selection Committee’, for appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and 03 Information Commissioners in CIC.
 
b) Please provide me the “Proceedings / Minutes of the Meetings” of the Search Committee held on 16.01.2015 and all the meetings held thereafter. Also provide me copy of final recommendations sent to PMO /DoPT for consideration of the ‘Selection Committee’. 
 
c) Please provide List of file/files with reference number(s) on which the ‘Search Committee’ is processing / has processed the case of appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and appointment of 03 Information Commissioners.
 
d) I would also like to inspect all the file/ files /records concerned with the above mentioned appointments of Chief IC and ICs in CIC. At that stage, I will take photocopies (duly certified) of the documents and notings in the file(s) as required by me. Please intimate the date and time for the inspection.
 
 
Applicants for 3 Information Commissioners’ posts: 553
Applicants for Central Chief Information Commissioner’s posts: 203
 

Lists of candidates are available in Public domain on Moneylife two stories below:

553 applicants for three posts of Information Commissioner!
 

Who will be India’s next Central Chief Information Commissioner under RTI?

 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, 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 series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 

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COMMENTS

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

The time is fast coming when there will not be a single un tainted person in Government service. Why doesn't the Government go outside the orbit of courtiers and camp followers? They will say they tried by calling for applications. But no decent person will apply for a Government post in the entrenched culture of reservations, bribes and favouritism. It requires serious head hunting:

manoharlalsharma

2 years ago

Introduction of R.T.I. is by DEFAULT or by MISTAKE , to get reacquired information is even more TOUGH to a COMMON-MAN.

ASOS.com: Does This Look Like a Ski Jacket to You?

When a Google ad offers something the advertiser can't deliver

 

(Three of the eight results when you type in “ski jackets” on ASOS.com, an online fashion store.)

 

The closest thing to a ski jacket on the online fashion store ASOS.com is a designer raincoat that even on the more mild slopes probably wouldn’t stave off the cold for long. So why then is there a Google ad saying, in part, “Ski Jackets at ASOS – Shop The Latest Jackets”
 
That’s exactly what Twitter user Chris Toogood was musing on this morning after googling “ski jackets” and seeing the ad pop up. Frustrated, he tweeted at ASOS:
 
 
Companies that use Google AdWords select keywords that relate to the product or service they offer. (Staples, for instance, might choose, well, staples.) When there’s a match with a term someone has googled, the company’s ad, which companies can write themselves, will appear at the top or side of the page along with other search results.
 
TINA.org reached out to ASOS for comment but has yet to hear back. We also contacted Google to inquire about whose responsibility it is to ensure that information in its ads are accurate. The company hasn’t immediately responded.
 
In the spirit of full disclosure, though, we wanted to share how TINA.org presents its Google ads via AdWords.
 
Click here for more of TINA’s coverage on Google ads.
 
Courtesy: TruthInAdvertising.org 
 

 

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Personal Finance Exclusive
Why SBI Life is defiant on paying Rs275 crore penalty imposed by IRDAI
IRDAI has rejected SBI Life representation for a stiff penalty of Rs275 crore levied in March 2014. The order smells of SBI Life defiance about not charging more than what IRDAI approved as well as questioning the regulator’s powers to make penalty demand
 
In March 2014, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had ordered SBI Life Insurance to refund Rs275.29 crore to the policyholders as the money was collected from them in violation of norms. IRDAI order specifies violations regarding misrepresenting the nature of the policy, paying excess commission to corporate agents and not providing buyers with an informed choice. In 2012, the regulator had imposed a paltry penalty of Rs5 lakh. However, with subsequent investigation to find how much the consumers paid for mis-selling the product to  earn hefty commissions, the regulator put a penalty of Rs275 crore. (Please read here )
 
Dhanaraksha Plus Limited Premium Paying Term product had two premium payment term (PPT).  Yet, in nearly 95% of the policies sold, SBI Life had collected the second year premium of its policy in the first year itself. What is worse, this policy was sold to those who availed of home loans from SBI and its associate banks during 2008-2011. The policy was intended to cover the outstanding loan in case of death of the policyholder during the term of the loan. As everyone who has taken a mortgage in recent times knows, there is also an element of indirect coercion to take these policies to secure the borrowing.
 
SBI Life also had a single premium version of the product, but it did not provide an informed choice to the buyer. The reasons were simple. The single premium policy earned only 2% commission for intermediaries, which in this case was mainly SBI and its associate banks. The two PPT policy earned hefty 40% of the first year premium as commission and 7.5% of the second year premium as commission to banks, which sold the policy. Clearly, the two PPT policy was bound to be much more expensive than the single premium policy if the commission levels have such huge difference.
 
However, why did IRDAI approve this faulty product, which was cleverly designed to earn hefty commission for SBI? An approved product will be sold by the insurer to the best of their business interest irrespective of whether it is in best consumer interest or not. If IRDAI does not get it, then it is barking up a wrong tree. The latest IRDAI order harps on SBI Life giving no informed choice to customers and collecting two premiums upfront that is detrimental to the interests of the policy holders. How about IRDAI investigating the personnel and process, which approved the toxic product option of two PPT to earn hefty commission? Did IRDAI expect SBI Life to try and sell single premium option to earn paltry commission instead of the lucrative two PPT option? No wonder 99.99% of the business from this product by SBI Life was with two PPT.
 
During representation since the March 2014 order, SBI Life asserted that they neither conducted their business in a manner that is detrimental to themselves (i.e. SBI Life) nor was it detrimental to the interests of the policyholders. It is ridiculous that SBI Life has to even say that they did not do business detrimental to own interest, as no one can expect it to do so. It is arrogant to even suggest that it has done nothing wrong for the policyholder’s interest. After all, they just sold the IRDAI approved product, right? 
 
The second argument was exactly the same with the assertion that no excess commission was paid to the Corporate Agents. It is true considering that IRDAI approved the product of two PPT and allowed such hefty commissions, when compared to the single premium option. Hence, there was nothing paid more than what was allowed by the regulator. SBI Life has rightly pushed the ball back to regulators court.
 
The third argument is in the life insurer’s submissions that the receipt of advance premiums was in 93% cases in the year 2008-09, 94% in 2009-10 and 97% in 2011, while in the rest of the cases the policyholders paid premiums in two separate instalments. This is an indication of the availability of an informed choice to all the policyholders. These submissions are absurd considering that it does not substantiate why single premium cheaper option was not offered to consumer, which led to 99.99% of products sold with two PPT expensive option? SBI Life suggesting that 3% to 7% of those who opted for two PPT really paid two premiums (instead of paying full amount in advance) indicating the availability of the option, is deflecting attention from the core issue of not selling the single premium option. 
 
The biggest snub from SBI Life is telling the Authority that they do not have the powers under Section 34 (1) (b) of the Act to issue directions as the nature of directions contemplated in the section are preventive and prospective nature.
 
IRDAI is showing that it is trying to protect the consumer interest without revealing that they did blunder in approving a toxic product. SBI Life is trying to show it complied with the product and just did its business as usual. After all, they are in business to make money and selling an approved product is a given. It seems to be a futile exercise that may give no relief for consumers. We hope we are wrong on this one. 

 

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COMMENTS

Dayananda Kamath k

2 years ago

Why IRDA has not imposed a penalty on SBI which sold the policy. Long back I have made a complaint about SBI credit card debiting card insurance premiume without my consent and charging me interest for refusing to pay the same. My complaint to Banking ombudsman delhi who is more interested in protecting bankers interest than clients with his various judgements has not given any hearing or order till date may be after more than 7 years. And irda is still worst they said it comes under jurisdiction of RBI. then i have to inform them if IRDA itself is not sure of its domain How it will regulate. But still no action taken.

manoharlalsharma

2 years ago

it is a clash between Government V/S Government so nothing will come out just a PUBLIC eyewash.

manoharlalsharma

2 years ago

it is a clash between Government V/S Government so nothing will come out just a PUBLIC eyewash.

REPLY

Babubhai Vaghela

In Reply to manoharlalsharma 2 years ago

Fait Accompli may be acceptable to the people who do not wish to exercise their democratic rights; refuse to obey Constitutional Duty and treat themselves absolutely helpless.

SUNIL MORE

2 years ago

SBI LIFe names sound PSU like organisation but behaves like any PVT organisation which loots money of customer for there own corporate agent's sake
and argue like psu company where refund is like nightmare for looted money, in this IRDA role is also became suspicion after aproval of such product that if they really work in the interest of customer where the design itself look like to loot customer

Pradeep R Hattangadi

2 years ago

With both IRDA and SBI Life sticking to their respective stands it is ultimately the consumer that has lost and there seems to be no respite in this. Regulators should also be penalised for their lapses.

REPLY

Babubhai Vaghela

In Reply to Pradeep R Hattangadi 2 years ago

It is Union Minister Mr Arun Jaitley who is required to do. Filing complaint against SBI, IRDAI & Union Minister with CVC should help push the matter.

Babubhai Vaghela

2 years ago

FIR against Mrs Arundhati Bhattacharya Chairperson SBI is overdue.

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