Citizens' Issues
BMC incurs Rs8 lakh cost to clear debris from the fire disaster spot at Chowpatty
BMC had to clean almost 315 metric tonnes of debris and damaged materials from the fire incident spot by spending over Rs8 lakh, which was not paid by the event organisers, reveals a reply received under RTI 
 
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent Rs8 lakh for clearing and removing debris from the fire incident that took place during the Make In India week, reveals a Right to Information (RTI) reply. 
 
According to a reply received by RTI activist Anil Galgali, the demand raised by the BMC for payment of the services (for clearing and removing debris) from Regional Director of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has not even been responded to.
 
Galgali had sought information about clearing of the site post the fire incident on 14 February 2016 at the Maharashtra Rajani show held under the Make in India program held at Girgaum Chowpatty. In his reply the Public Information Officer (PIO) said, after the fire incident, the BMC had to clean almost 315 metric tonnes of debris and damaged materials for which it had to spend almost Rs8.06 lakh. "The work was executed by D Ward staff using infrastructure and implements of the ward and other departments, vehicles, own labour and labour for non-government agencies. Simultaneously the cost incurred for the clean-up was intimated to CII, the organisers of the show, who have till date not responded," the reply says.
 
Galgali, in a letter sent to Ajoy Mehta, Municipal Commissioner, BMC has demanded that if the organisers fail to pay up, then a police complaint be lodged as the BMC has helped the organisers in a difficult situation and such behaviour is not expected from such prominent organisations like CII.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

9 months ago

Mr. Galgali is to be commended for keeping an eye on how public funds are abused by private entities.

BMC should charge a daily penalty to CII until the full amount is paid up. This will stop passing the buck.

CII probably wants the private company that organized the show to pay up for using items that were forbidden and which led to the disaster. However that is between CII and the private company. Why should the tax payer wait until the fight gets resolved?

Nifty, Sensex headed higher – Thursday closing report
While Nifty may dip a bit, the trend is up for now
 
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex were to head higher and that Nifty has to stay above 7,300 for the rally to continue. The post-budget bull-run continued and the major indices of the Indian stock markets closed nearly 1.5% higher than Wednesday’s close, lifted by the perception that the national budget has some reforms push. Sector-wise, the S&P BSE metal index, capital goods index, industrials index and basic materials index were the prominent gainers among the BSE indices. Global cues from Tokyo and Singapore markets were also favourable.
 
The trends of the major indices during Thursday’s trading are given in the table below:
 
 
Shares of metal companies were in focus with the Nifty Metal index surging 4.81% on the NSE after LMEX, a gauge of six metals traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME), hit its nearly four-month high on Wednesday. Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL), Vedanta, Tata Steel, Hindalco Industries and NMDC rallied more than 5% each. Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Jindal Saw, JSW Steel, National Aluminium Company (Nalco) and Bhushan Steel were up 2%-3% on the NSE.
 
India's services sector activity fell to a three-month low amidst subdued growth in new orders, a key macro-economic data showed on Thursday. The Nikkei Business Activity index fell to a three-month low of 51.4 in February, from 54.3 in January, adding to expectations of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India following the union budget for 2016-17 maintaining the fiscal deficit targets for this fiscal and the next, earlier this week. An index reading of above 50 indicates an overall increase in the economic activity, below 50 an overall decrease. The survey said although new services orders continued to rise in February, the rate of expansion eased to the weakest since November 2015, as firms faced strong competition for new work during the month. Instead, the Nikkei India Composite PMI Output index, which tracks both manufacturing and services sectors, fell to 51.2 in February, from January's 11-month high of 53.3. "India's economic growth softened during February, with slowdown evident across both manufacturing and service sectors," said Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit, which compiles the survey. "Demand conditions in the country appear to be weak, as indicated by lacklustre increase in new orders," De Lima said. "One centrepiece of the latest survey result is evidence of fading inflationary pressures which combined with a stuttering recovery and an increasingly challenging global backdrop open up room for a rate cut," De Lima said. 
 
The government said on Wednesday that, along with the RBI, it will provide all resources to keep state-run banks in good health, reiterating, at the same time, the need for fiscal discipline to achieve economic targets. In a post-Budget 2016-17 meeting here with India Inc., Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also said he has taken the first "significant" step to resolve retrospective tax cases by installing a statutory mechanism to handle such disputes. "The RBI on Tuesday took a very positive move which helps further in recapitalisation of banks," he told representatives of industry associations Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry and Associated Chambers of Commerce at a post-Budget 2016-17 meeting. Lauding the RBI’s move to help banks besieged by stressed loans by easing rules, Jaitley said "whatever resources are required to keep PSU banks in good health, we are going to give". "We are also, after improving their health, going to look at possible consolidation and further reforms and while doing so, we have to maintain fiscal discipline," he added. The S & P Bankex stocks and Bank Nifty stocks are likely to stay in focus, as banking reforms are outlined by the FM and RBI.
 
CBI Director Anil Sinha on Wednesday gave an earful to chiefs of top banks and financial institutions for the crises and scams plaguing the country's banking and financial sectors. In a no-holds barred speech in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Central Bureau of Investigation chief said the crisis in the banking and financial system 'runs deep'. He said there was growing anguish among the public that while banks were strict on small/retail borrowers, the big borrowers and those who committed fraud on a large scale not only escaped the law but enjoyed the fruits of their crimes. "Something is seriously wrong. While bank loan defaults can happen due to business risk and reasons beyond the control of banks, borrowers and regulators, yet a significant part of the defaults are wilful and fraudulent. What causes greater concern is that a major part of the Non-Productive Assets and frauds are in large-value accounts," Sinha asserted as top banking and financial institutions' heads listened in rapt attention.
 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday gave its approval to wind up the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) with immediate effect. An official release said the CCEA gave its approval to winding up of the NMCC as the council “has fulfilled the mandate for which it was constituted”. The NMCC was established in 2004 to provide a continuing forum for policy dialogue to energise and sustain the growth of manufacturing industry. It was set up as an autonomous organisation with its chairman in the rank of a cabinet minister and members drawn from government and industry. The manufacturing sector is likely to remain the government’s focus as part of the MakeinIndia policy.
 
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of the major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 

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Four law students take Delhi High Court to Court over exorbitant RTI fees; win
In a landmark decision, the Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, amended the RTI Rules 2006 of the HC, while hearing a PIL filed by four law students, bringing the fees at par with other public authorities
 
Four young law students, Paras Jain, Kumar Shanu, Aastha Sharma and Ishwin Mehta, admirably took the Delhi High Court to Court for charging exorbitant fees for providing information under Right to Information (RTI) Act. They argued the case themselves without taking help from a professional lawyer and on 2 February 2016, won the verdict in their favour.
 
The students said they were shocked to read news reports, wherein the Chief Justice of the High Court, as a Competent Authority for framing RTI Rules in Courts, was charging exorbitant fees ranging from Rs50 to Rs500.
 
They studied the Delhi High Court RTI Rules, 2006. “We found the rules were arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of the Fundamental Right viz Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and against the letter and spirit of the Right to Information Act, 2005,” says Paresh Jain.
 
They objected to the following rules:
 
a) Exorbitant Fees prescribed under Rule 10 of the Delhi High Court RTI Rules, 2006 i.e. Rs50 as application fee and Rs5 per page for obtaining the photostat/ physical/ Xerox Copies.
 
b) No provision for supply of information at free of cost for the citizens falling under below poverty line (BPL) category, which is a mandatory provision under the main Act to provide free access to information to such citizens.
c) Provision of filing separate applications for each unrelated information as per Rule 3 of the Delhi High Court RTI Rules, 2006
 
Jain says, “While the RTI Act prescribes Rs10 as application fee and Rs2 per page for providing photostat copies, the HC's rules had laid down the application fee of Rs50 and Rs5 per page, respectively, for copies.’’ 
 
They filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court in October 2015. Paras Jain and Kumar Shanu argued this matter in person without taking help from any advocate before the Division Bench of Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. They got the first two rules a) and b) amended in conformity with the provisions of the main RTI Act. The Bench, however, rejected main contention of the petitioners (students) on quashing of Rule 3 of the Delhi, which asks to file a separate RTI application for each information.
 
Jain says, “There is no provision in the RTI Act for filing separate applications in case of unrelated information, but Rule 3 of the Delhi High Court Rules states that for each piece of information sought, a separate application should be made.” 
 
The Court stated that the provision was required as it prevents frivolous applications seeking roving inquiries into various subjects.
 
The law students have decided to challenge the Bench’s refusal to amend Section 3 of the Delhi HC Rules before the Supreme Court, while affirming that the reasoning given by the Bench was neither fulfilling the purpose of the Act nor contemplated by any provision of the Act itself.
 
The law students said that the objective of the RTI Act to ensure “maximum disclosure and minimum exemption” could only be achieved when an applicant was allowed to seek multiple information under one application.
 
Before joining law school and while studying at final level of Institute of Companies Secretaries of India (ICSI), Jain in his personal capacity as a student, had challenged before Division Bench headed by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, the arbitrary and unreasonable rules of ICSI charging Rs500 per subject from the students for getting the copy of answer-sheets. This, he said, was despite the decision of Supreme Court of India in CBSE versus Aditya Bandhopadhyay (Civil Appeal 6454/2011), which established that answer-script of examinees is an information and hence, it must be provided under the RTI Act. The said Bench ordered the ICSI to provide the copy of answer-sheets at Rs2 per page, which is prescribed under RTI Act.
 
Box: Comparable fees before the High Court order
 
 
The students have their own forum called Whistle for Public Interest (WHIP). This is a group representing public-spirited law students, who tackle issues through legal research, filing RTI applications, drafting petitions and arguing the matters in person without engaging advocates, before High Court, Supreme Court and other quasi-judicial authorities.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also 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

BR

9 months ago

Would Moneylife inform the two parties one in Arunachal Pradesh( link is in my first comment below but I do not know how to contact him) & Delhi students of each other's success. It will help all activists to join to at least exchange infmn. Money life has done a good job of publishing both reports A.

manoharlalsharma

9 months ago

there r two sections r running in to courts if u ask for certified copy they simply not to redirect under section 6 but call to the concerned applicant and ask to go to certified section and re apply./the attitude show do not come us again.

Simple Indian

9 months ago

Kudos to these 4 law students for having taken up a matter in the interest of the masses. It's a pity the HC framed rules which were not in the letter n spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 itself. When the interpreters and adjudicators of law themselves violate the spirit of the laws, then it is highly undesirable and an unhealthy precedent.
We need more such lawyers to take up public interest litigation or PILs as they are popularly referred to.

vswami

9 months ago

Thinking aloud:
“They argued the case themselves without taking help from a professional lawyer and on 2 February 2016, won the verdict in their favour.”

Should not this be considered to give the impetus, and provide a helpful clue to the ongoing debate as to how best or what direction be ideally taken to give a hard push to the SC's concern in having "started the arduous task of initiating "long overdue" reforms in legal education” ! – vide (latest):http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india...

Annika

9 months ago

YESS! WELL DONE!!

BR

9 months ago

Moneylufe reported earlier of a similar case in ArunachalPradesh http://www.moneylife.in/article/how-an-a...#.VqSiVL0U7_Q.mailto

B Pugazhendhi

9 months ago

An encouraging development. Happy to note the interest youngsters are taking in RTI. One wonders how, in the first place, the guardians of law made such a rule!?

REPLY

Annika

In Reply to B Pugazhendhi 9 months ago

The so-called guardians of law consider themselves above the law XD

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