Right to Information
Central and state governments making continuous attempts to diffuse power of RTI
While a proposal to bring in an ordinance against political parties coming under the RTI is the latest controversy to hit the headlines, the Maharashtra government has recently excluded the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from its ambit. Well, Shirdi trips by VIPs too is a state secret
A few months back, Pune’s Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol stated at a public meeting in the city that his policemen, particularly during weekends, are diverted for bandobast duty to serve the VIPs, mostly Supreme Court judges who come to Pune for a trip to Shirdi. He mentioned that at least 20 to 25 such VIPs land in Pune for the pilgrimage, thus denying policemen of their rightful weekly offs and citizens, of their rightful security.
This writer subsequently filed a RTI (Right to Information) application to find out details of these trips and the VIPs who used the privilege. The information asked under RTI, comprised details of VIP visits in Pune and Police security required for the same on the backdrop of Police Commissioner Mr Pol stating at the meeting of Nagarik Chetna Manch on 20th March at the Poona Club that at least 25 VIPS come to Pune to en route to Shirdi, which calls for appropriate security.
My queries included—period to which the information relates: 1 January 2011 to 31 March 2013 
Names of VIPs who come from different states of the country to Pune as the base for their Shirdi pilgrimage. 
Please give names along with designations, the city and the state they come from; 
dates of the above VIPs—when they landed in Pune, when they went to Shirdi and when they came back to Pune and when they caught the flight/train to their respective places; 
What arrangements were made for their security by the Pune Police? 
What kind of security category did each of these VIPs have? 
What are the rules of every such category of security? 
How many policemen were deployed for each of these visits? 
What kind of security was deployed for each of these visits? 
What kind of official vehicles and how many official vehicles of police or any other department were used for this purpose? 
How many policemen lost their weekly offs because of being delegated for security? And; 
All correspondence related to the above VIP visits to Shirdi.
The reply from the Special Branch of the Pune Police Commissionerate stated that the Special Branch has been excluded from the ambit of the RTI Act and hence no information can be provided. In fact, by an order of the Maharashtra government, the State Intelligence Department and its subsidiaries; the Special Branch of all Police Commissioners and District Special Branches of all District Special Branches have been excluded from the RTI Act.
When VIPs are using state machinery and vehicles for pilgrimages, doesn’t the citizen have the right to know the kind of expenditure made out of public money? I can understand that the public authority does not disclose the details of VIP security for obvious reasons, but why should it put a blanket ban? The writer will soon inspect files at the Protocol Officer’s office in the Pune Collector’s office for similar details.
Last week, Rakesh Maria, ATS Chief, Maharashtra, has succeeded in excluding the Anti-Terrorist-Squad office too from the RTI Act.  He has sent out a circular to that effect.
Leading activists from across the country have sent a joint statement to the central government protesting against a proposed Ordinance to amend the RTI Act so that political parties stay out of its ambit. The statement reads: “There are reports that the government is thinking of promulgating an ordinance to amend the Right to Information Act. This Act was passed by our Parliament and has now become part of the extremely valuable Citizen empowerment for our democracy. We appeal to the government and all political parties to drop any consideration of amending the RTI Act. We are not aware of any emergency requiring such an ordinance, and are confident no such move will be undertaken.” The letter was signed by Aruna Roy, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Bhardwaj, Trilochan Sastry, Jagdeep Chhokar, Subash Agrawal, Shekhar Singh, Harsh Mander, Nikhil Dey, Maja Daruwala, Venkatesh Nayak and Shailesh Gandhi.
Thus, the RTI Act is steadily being diluted. Once again, it is the citizens and citizen activists who have to make a noise as our elected representatives are the ones who keep weakening the law.
As per the RTI Act following institutions are out of its ambit:




4 years ago

The Time has now come when all these exclusions which the Central and State Governments are incorporating under the RTI Act needs to be challenged legally in the Supreme Court . Why does the Congress , keep shouting from the roof tops that they were the one's who brought in the RTI Act , Simultaneously when at the same time both the Central Government and the state Governments are doing their very best best to weaken the RTI Act . This is the credibility of the politicians .

Sensex, Nifty under pressure: Wednesday Closing Report
As we suggested yesterday, the upmove was terminated and the market headed lower. The Nifty will remain under pressure for the next two days
The market settled nearly 1.5% down as higher crude oil price, weak global cues and the decline in the rupee resulted in across-the-board selling. As we suggested yesterday, the upmove was terminated and the market headed lower. The Nifty will remain under pressure for the next two days. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) recorded a higher volume of 63.60 crore shares and very poor advance-decline ratio of 371:1039.
The market opened sharply lower tracking weak global cues. Political tensions in Egypt, which also serves as a transit hub for oil through the Suez Canal, saw global oil prices climbing to over $100 per barrel for the first time in nine months. The development led the US markets lower in overnight trade and resulted in the Asian pack trading in the red in morning deals. All this also pushed up dollar to a one-month high against a basket of currencies.
The Nifty opened 46 points lower at 5,812 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,347, a cut of 117 points from its previous close. While the opening figure of the Sensex was also its intraday high, the Nifty’s high came in a short while with the index touching 5,815.
Meanwhile, the rupee fell by 37 paise to again slip below the 60 mark to 60.03 against the dollar in early trade on heavy dollar demand tracking strengthening of the US currency overseas. This is the first time since 27th June that the domestic currency has fallen below the 60 level. The rupee had touched an all-time low of 60.76 against the dollar on 26th June.
The declining rupee and rising oil prices led all sectoral indices, with the exception of healthcare and technology, in the negative in mid-morning trade. The market continued its slide in the noon session on news that the HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index for the services industry fell to 51.7 in June, from 53.6 in the previous month. A lower opening of the key European markets added to investors’ woes.
The benchmarks witnessed sideways movement in late trade in the absence of any favourable triggers. The indices touched their lows in the last half hour with the Nifty slipping to 5,760 and the Sensex going back to 19,147.
The market settled in the red for the second day in a row on weak global cues which led to all-round selling.  The Nifty declined 87 points (1.48%) to 5,771 and the Sensex ended the session at 19,178, a fall of 286 points (1.47%).
Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index dropped 1.69% and the BSE Small-cap index declined 1.44%.
BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.26%) and BSE Healthcare (up 0.23%) were the only sectoral gainers today. The top losers were BSE Realty (down 4.76%); BSE Metal (down 3.11%); BSE PSU (down 3.08%); BSE Consumer Durables (down 2.84%) and BSE Power (down 2.67%).
Out of the 30 stocks on the Sensex, only three stocks settled higher. The gainers were Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (up 1.25%); Jindal Steel & Power (up 0.98%) and ITC (up 0.42%). The main losers were Tata Power (down 4.90%); State Bank of India, Sterlite Industries (down 4.58% each); Tata Steel (down 4.54%) and Hindalco Industries (down 3.61%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (up 5.97%) and United Spirits (3.81%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Unitech (down 10.11%) and Jaiprakash Associates (down 8.71%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Diana Tea Company (up 19.50%) and Gilanders Arbuthnot Company (up 18.33%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Empee Distilleries (down 19.98%) and Parrys Sugar & Industries (down 16.80%). 
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, nine ended in the in the green. The major gainers were Lupin (up 3.87%); JSPL (up 1.40%); Sun Pharma (up 1.21%); Ambuja Cement (up 0.80%) and ITC (up 0.55%). The key losers were JP Associates (down 8.38%); Bank of Baroda (down 7.95%); IDFC (down 6.06%); Punjab National Bank (down 4.94%) and Sesa Goa (down 4.70%).
Markets in Asia settled lower as China’s official services PMI reading was the weakest in the past nine months. This apart, major global agencies like the Goldman Sachs Group Inc, China International Capital Corp, Barclays Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc have pared their growth projections for China this year to 7.4%, below the government’s 7.5% target.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.61%; the Hang Seng tanked 2.485; the Jakarta Composite tumbled 3.20%; the KLSE Composite fell 0.15%; the Nikkei 225 declined 0.31%; the Straits Times dropped 1.38%; the Seoul Composite contracted 1.64% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 1.30%.
At the time of writing, the CAC 40 of France was down 1.85%; the DAX of Germany declined 1.61% and UK’s FTSE 100 was trading 1.59% lower. At the same time, the US stock futures were in the red, indicating a lower opening for US stocks later in the day. The US markets will see a curtailed trading session today and will remain closed on Thursday for its Independence Day holiday.
Back home, institutional investors—foreign and domestic—were net sellers of stocks on Tuesday. While FIIs pulled out Rs43.20 crore from the equities segment, DIIs withdrew Rs125.33 crore from stocks.
Zensar Technologies, the IT services and solutions firm from the RPG group, said that it is in talks with two US-based firms for acquisition as part of its target of reaching $1 billion revenue by 2017-18. The stock declined 1.40% to close at Rs256.75 on the NSE.
Real estate firm Omaxe today said it will invest Rs200 crore to set up a five-star hotel in New Chandigarh, where it is developing an integrated township. The company has joined hands with the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) to manage and set up the 150-room hotel, named as Holiday Inn, a statement from the company said. Omaxe declined 1.37% to Rs143.55 on the NSE.
Crompton Greaves has secured a contract order worth Euro 3.5 million (Rs27 crore) for supply and commissioning of a wind farm substation in France. The 75 MW wind project will produce electricity for over 55,000 households and is scheduled for completion by mid-2014. The stock tanked 3.92% to close at Rs90.60 on the NSE.



FM orders banks to act against top defaulters

Directing banks to focus on top defaulters, finance minister P Chidambaram said it is the 30 top non-performing accounts which account for bulk of the non-performing assets

Concerned over rising bad loans, finance minister P Chidambaram today directed banks to focus on top defaulters and take action against them.


“You focus on the top defaulters, as well as keep on eye on the top performing accounts... They are keeping a close watch on the top 30 non-performing accounts in each bank and action will be taken on the defaulters,” Chidambaram said.


He was talking to reporters after meeting the heads of public sector banks and financial institutions.


Chidambaram said it is the 30 top non-performing accounts which account for bulk of the NPAs (non-performing assets).


Non-performing assets of banks have been on the rise for past several months due to slowdown in the economy.


The gross NPAs of some public sector banks, including State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank have crossed 4% of the total assets at the end of March 2013.


Gross NPAs of PSU banks have risen from Rs71,080 crore as on March 2011, to Rs1.55 lakh crore as on December 2012.


Chidambaram further said he has asked banks to review their lending rates.


“Reduction in base rate will be powerful stimulus to boost credit growth,” he said, adding that unless the base rate is cut, interest rates cannot be brought down.


While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reduced the policy rates by 1.25% since January 2012, to prop up growth, banks have lowered the lending rates by only 0.30% during the period.


Chidambaram further said the banks would open over 8,000 new branches this year and hire over 50,000 people.


At the meeting with the bank chiefs, Chidambaram reviewed the credit to agriculture, MSME sector, housing, education, minority communities and also financial inclusion.


Chidambaram said while the deposit growth has been modest for the fiscal ending March 2013, credit growth has been slow.


At the end of 31 March 2013, public sector banks’ deposits grew by 14.91%, slightly higher than the growth rate of 14.4% recorded in previous year.


Credit growth at the end of 31 March 2013, was 15.62% which is a decline from the previous year’s 17.76%.


“There is good credit demand from a few sectors—agriculture, small and medium enterprises and retail loans,” he said.


In housing, there are signs of growth especially in commercial real estate for residential purposes. On the infrastructure side, there are some signs of higher credit demand in the road sector, non-conventional energy sector, he added.


“Overall there seems to be some pick up in credit demand, the picture will be clear at the end of second quarter,” he said.


When asked about discussion on gold loan with bank chiefs in the meeting, Chidambaram quipped, “You want gold loan, chances are there you won’t get it”.


Replying to a query on new bank licences for which 26 entities have applied before the RBI, the finance minister said “every guideline has to be satisfied”. He, however, said it is the RBI which will give the licences and the government will have no say in it.


Earlier, he said all banks are compliant with capital norms as per the Basel III requirements. He further said except for four public sector banks—IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Dena Bank—all other have Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 8% and more.


These four banks have CAR of more than 7%.


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