Right to Information
Defamation case against BMC officer for calling activists blackmailers and extortionists
Most people in power and powerful institutions dislike Right to Information (RTI) Act since it exposes corruption and arbitrariness. Consequently, a strong lie and myth has been created of calling RTI users and activists’ as misusers, extortionists and blackmailers. Almost everyone who uses RTI regularly and challenges illegalities or mistakes is deprecated in this manner.
 
Many Information Commissions are gleefully quoting and repeating this anti-democratic statement: "The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquillity and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty."  
 
This statement may be justified if it was used for terrorists. 
 
A former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has said there should be a limit to RTI, but levelling such a charge at citizens using their fundamental right is unacceptable. It shows a poor understanding of democracy. 
 
The RTI is a fundamental right as part of the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a), and yet Information Commissions and government officials use such deprecatory words for the use of a fundamental right. If this trend continues even our freedom of speech and of the media will be questioned. This big lie is being propagated very actively and even builders and corrupt officers find this a useful stick to demean citizens using their fundamental right to information. 
 
Now one citizen Pankaj Vijay Pandey has taken courage to challenge this Gobbelsian falsehood. Feeling suffocated by many RTI applications and complaints by citizens drawing attention to illegal constructions and buildings, Devendra Jain, an Assistant Commissioner at Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC) -  sent a complaint about 77 such persons to the police! 
 
He claimed they were 'professional complainants' blackmailing poor officers and owners of illegal buildings! There was evidently a cozy relationship, which was being disturbed. 
 
Mr Pandey has now filed a defamation suit against Mr Jain. The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate has recorded that a prima facie case has been made out and has directed issue of process under section 500 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). This should act as a warning to many people in power who demean RTI users. Hopefully, more RTI users will follow Pankaj Pandey's example. 
 
The Section 500 of IPC says, "Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both."  
 
Here is the order issued by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate...
 
 

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COMMENTS

GLN Prasad

3 months ago

What about the comments of a Governor who called RTI applicants as Terrorists ?
No hue and cry when one IPS officer who tried to confront with Governor was sent back to Rajastan.

Nifty, Sensex to remain under pressure – Weekly closing report

We had mentioned in last week’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex continue to lose momentum. The major indices of the Indian stock markets suffered a correction on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Monday and Tuesday were market holidays. The trends of the major indices in the course of the week’s trading are given in the table below:

Weak global cues dragged the Indian equity markets on Wednesday. The key indices closed the day's trade with losses of more than 1% each, as selling pressure was witnessed in healthcare, oil and gas, and automobile stocks. The market was spooked with the possibility of Donald Trump winning the US presidential elections and the possibility of a rate hike in the US soon.
 
Car-maker Ford India Pvt Ltd on Wednesday said it closed last month selling a total of 22,043 vehicles, more than it sold in October 2015. In a statement issued, the company said its combined domestic wholesales and exports grew to 22,043 vehicles in October, in comparison to 20,420 vehicles in October 2015. October domestic wholesales stood at 7,508 vehicles against 10,008 vehicles in the same month last year, while exports grew to 14,535 vehicles compared to 10,412 units in October 2015, Ford India said.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired a meeting to discuss a roadmap to reduce the country's dependency on import of oil and gas, sources said. They said the Petroleum Ministry presented strategies at the meeting to achieve the objective of reducing oil and gas imports. The strategies included increasing production of crude oil and gas, promoting bio-fuels and renewables, energy efficiency and promoting conservation. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave attended the meeting. Others present included NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha and senior officials from PMO, Petroleum Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, Home Ministry, Finance Ministry and Defence Ministry. Indian Oil Corporation shares closed at Rs315.60, down 2.91%.
 
Indian equity markets on Thursday were pulled lower on the back of global cues, such as the US Fed's interest rate decision and uncertainty over the upcoming US presidential election. The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE hit its lowest level in over 16 weeks. The BSE market breadth was skewed in favour of the bears -- with 1,775 declines and 1,174 advances. On Wednesday, the benchmark indices had closed on a lower note, depressed by weak global cues. Initially on Thursday, the key equity indices opened on a flat note in sync with their Asian peers. The global markets remained cautious over the US Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meet decision on Wednesday, which indicated a possible rate-hike in December on the back of economic recovery, while keeping its short-term interest rate intact for the current month. A hike in the US interest rates can potentially lead foreign portfolio investors (FPI) and funds away from emerging markets such as India. It is also expected to dent the business margins of corporates as access to capital from the US will become expensive. Besides, positive domestic macro-economic data -- the Nikkei India Services PMI (Purchasing Manager's Index) -- released earlier during the day, could not cheer the equity markets. The data showed a rise of the index to 54.5 in October from 52 in September, indicating a healthy growth in the services sector. 
 
Indian equity markets on Friday traded in the negative territory as there was global uncertainty over the result of the forthcoming US presidential election. Selling pressure was witnessed in healthcare, metal and capital goods stocks. The US non-farm payrolls data is expected later in the evening, which will also signal if there will be a rate-hike in the mid-December, pointed out market analysts. Friday’s trading ended with moderate losses of around 0.50% in the major indices over Thursday’s close.

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Surge in global yields to keep Indian bond markets cautious
Emerging global risks will keep the Indian debt markets on the defensive and limit gains, given that domestic corporate bond spreads have already narrowed to near a one-year low, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). 
 
The ratings agency says it believes that an uptick in global yields and several upcoming high-impact events globally will limit the softening of domestic bond yields and keep the rupee volatile. 
 
According to Ind-Ra, Indian corporate bonds are in a sweet spot presently (generic one-year bond spread over Government securities (G-sec) averaged at 37 basis points (bps) in October 2016, while five-year spread averaged 39bps -lowest in 2016)- limiting the scope for incremental outperformance from hereon. 
 
It says, "The focus for the Indian DebtFX markets will shift from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s accommodative monetary policy to two major drivers, global developments and consequent risk appetite and incremental G-sec purchases through open market operations (OMOs).
 
Surge in Global Yields Signals Caution, Rupee to be Conduit of Transmission
The ratings agency says, the scope for G-sec yields to soften incrementally is limited, as globally government bond yields inch higher. The narrow spread between G-sec and developed market yields will keep the domestic debt market circumspect, as globally, economies brace for a potential reversal in yields from the June 2016 lows. Central banks of major developed economies expanded their monetary policies, as the countries battle deflationary pressures amid the fragile growth outlook. The low-rates phenomena pushed global bond yields to multi-year lows in June 2016. However, as central banks are left with fewer policy tools, the need for fiscal support has resurfaced. This has unsettled global bond investors - leading to a sharp surge in government bond yields, it added. 
 
 
 
Ind-Ra says it believes that, in event of risk aversion resurfacing, the rupee will emerge as the first line of transmission of global risks to domestic financial markets. The potential resurgence in risk aversion and as a fallout a fall in investment flows will keep the rupee vulnerable and it may come under mild depreciation.
 
Plateauing of Rates
The 175bps repo rate cut since the start of 2015 translated into G-sec yields softening by 110bp-140bp across the yield curve. 
 
With a benign inflation trajectory, Ind-Ra says, the RBI will have room to ease rates by another 25bp by end-FY17. "However, with a large part of the easy monetary policy cycle already underway, incremental softness in bond yields will be reined in. The bond market will shift focus from the central bank's policy actions and the two major drivers hereon will be RBI's liquidity operation through OMOs and global developments and outcomes of several high-impact events - upcoming US presidential election, US Federal Reserve's timing of imminent rate hike, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting will force investors to reassess their risk appetite and fund allocations.
 
Corporate Debt Market Spreads Narrow
Corporate bonds are currently in a sweet spot, though Ind-Ra says it believes that the room for spread compression going forward is limited and will largely be a function of the recovery in the corporates' financial health, along with an improvement in the earnings outlook.
 
Generic AAA rated public sector undertaking (PSU) yield spreads over the corresponding G-sec are hovering in range of 40bps-60bps across the curve, while State Development Loan (SDL) spreads too are in same range. 
 
"The narrowing differential in spreads of SDLs and corporate bonds, pickup in issuance of SDL in 2HFY17 and the proactive debt management by states suggest that corporate bonds will be impacted by the trends and quantum of SDL issuance, going forward," the ratings agency concluded.
 

 

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