CIC: Members of Parliament should disclose interests in companies

Information commission says these details would help the public keep a better watch on their representatives  

New Delhi: Pecuniary interests of members of Parliament in various companies should be made public as it would help people keep "a better watch" on them, when they deal with legislative matters relating to such firms, the Central Information Commission (CVC) has said.

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra, was giving his decision on a petition, when he said that disclosure of such information is "in the larger public interest".

The case relates to an RTI application filed by Anil Bairwal of the Association for Democratic Reforms, that sought to know from the Rajya Sabha secretariat the details of "remunerative directorship, regular remunerative activity, shareholding of controlling nature, paid consultancy and profession engagement" of members of the upper house, PTI reports.

These details are required to be submitted by members of Parliament (MPs) under the Register of Members' Interest according to rule 293 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States. Mr Bairwal also sought to know the list of members who had not submitted the form and reasons for not doing so.

However, the Rajya Sabha refused to provide details, citing a decision of its ethics committee that the information was held in a fiduciary capacity and should not be disclosed to the public under section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. The secretariat said that the disclosure of information has no relationship to any public activity or interest.

Rejecting the arguments, Mr Mishra said, "The knowledge among the citizens about the pecuniary interest of MPs in various companies and other business establishments would help them to keep a better watch on their representatives when they are dealing with policy and other legislative matters affecting the interests of such companies and business interests."

According to section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act cited by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, information held in a fiduciary capacity can be withheld from disclosure unless it serves the larger public interest.

However, the Commission said that information sought by Mr Bairwal would serve the larger public interest, hence it was overriding the objections raised by the Rajya Sabha. "It is the standard practice that people in positions, where they can make decisions or influence policies affecting the financial and other interests of companies, should recuse themselves from such a process, if they themselves have an interest in those specific companies or the class of enterprises, to avoid conflict of interest. This should equally be applicable to legislators," Mr Mishra said.

Mr Mishra said that if the legislators had any stated interest in some companies or business houses, as directors or substantial shareholders, their participation in any legislative or decision-making activity affecting the interests of such companies and business houses would be keenly watched by people.

"This kind of vigilance on the part of the informed citizenry will help the legislators to be more objective and fair in their functioning and will help in better laws being enacted and better policies made," he said.

Mr Mishra said that just like declaration of private assets by those contesting elections, the disclosure of pecuniary interests of MPs should not be construed as invasion of individual privacy and he directed the information to be made public.


Strike at Maruti’s Manesar plant enters its fourth day

Around 2,000 workers at the plant had gone on strike since Saturday, resulting in a production loss of about 1,800 units till Monday and the value of the loss is estimated to be around Rs100 crore

New Delhi: The strike by workers at the country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India's (MSI) Manesar plant entered its fourth day today and production continued to be completely affected, reports PTI.

"The situation is the same as it was yesterday," a company spokesperson said.

The company had yesterday sacked 11 employees at the plant for allegedly inciting others to strike work.

Around 2,000 workers at the plant had gone on strike since Saturday, resulting in a production loss of about 1,800 units till yesterday and the value of the loss is estimated to be around Rs100 crore.

Striking workers are demanding the recognition of a new union-Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU)-formed by those working at the Manesar plant, besides retaining contract labourers for the two upcoming new units inside the complex.

Taking no disciplinary action against the 11 office bearers of the new union is also another demand.

The Manesar plant rolls out about 1,200 units every day in two shifts. The factory produces hatchbacks Swift and A-Star and sedans DZiRE and SX4.

The company's scrip was being quoted at Rs1,227.50 per share in noon trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange, down 0.36% from its previous close.


Two new health plans: LIC Jeevan Arogya, Chola Healthline

LIC Jeevan Arogya Insurance offers comprehensive hospitalisation benefits, while Chola Healthline mediclaim even covers dental care and ayurvedic treatment under an ‘advanced’ option

LIC of India has launched a new non-linked health insurance plan called Jeevan Arogya that offers comprehensive hospitalisation benefits for the entire family for the principal insured. It also offers to cover the parents' in-law of the principal insured, besides the spouse, minor children and parents.

Jeevan Arogya is a combination of hospital cash and defined benefits policy. The benefits are payable regardless of the life insured receiving reimbursement through any other scheme from his/her employer, or any other insurance company, on the basis of certified photocopies of the original bills.

The plan offers term assurance and an accident benefit rider. The plan has major surgical benefits, day-care procedure benefit, other surgical benefits and ambulance benefit.

The plan also offers premium waiver benefit and no-claim benefit. Premiums are guaranteed for three years from the date of commencement of policy. The total premium to be charged for a policy will be the sum of premiums in respect of each member to be covered in that policy.

The indicative annual premium for Rs1,000 per day hospital cash benefit and Rs1 lakh major surgical benefit is Rs2,242 for age 30, spouse premium of Rs1,730 for age 30 and child premium of Rs794 for age 5.

Chola MS General Insurance has launched 'Chola Healthline', a health insurance plan. The new policy covers maternity expenses for a sum insured of over Rs3.5 lakh, with a five-year waiting period (not in the standard option).

The product has three variants (standard, superior and advanced), covering up to Rs 10 lakh. The policy even covers dental care, eye examination and ayurvedic treatment. Individuals up to 55 years old, who have not had any medical check-up, and up to 65 years old, who have had medical checkups, are covered. Chola also offers a free health check-up, once in every two claim-free years.


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