Right to Information
HC asks Centre on appointment of information commissioners
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the central government to inform it on the status of appointment of the chief information commissioner and three information commissioners, the posts lying vacant for nearly a year.
 
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain to take instructions from the central government on the appointment of chief information commissioner and information commissioners and apprise the court on Thursday.
 
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Right to Information (RTI) activists R.K. Jain, Commodore (Retd.) Lokesh Batra, Subhash Chandra Agarwal.
 
The plea said under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the Central Information Commission (CIC) was created as a statutory body to decide appeals and complaints against public authorities for non-compliance with the act.
 
The proper functioning of the CIC is essential for the proper implementation of the RTI Act, the plea said, adding that the government has attempted to stifle the functioning of the RTI Act by failing to do its statutory duty -- to appoint chief information commissioner and information commissioners at the CIC.
 
The post of chief information commissioner at CIC is lying vacant since August 23, 2014, and the posts of three information commissioners have also been lying vacant for almost a year, it said.
 
"Thus, the CIC has been kept headless and there are four vacancies in the CIC. There are only seven information commissioners functioning, as of now," said advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for RTI activists.
 
The plea sought directions to the government to urgently prepare a short list of candidates for the posts of the chief information commissioner and three information commissioners in transparent manner for final selection and appointment to be concluded in a time-bound manner.
 
"Because of the non-appointment of the chief information commissioner and the three information commissioners, the pendency at CIC has shot up to a whopping 37,650 appeals/complaints," the PIL said. 
 
"About 13,615 appeals and complaints are pending for disposal before the bench of Chief Information Commissioner, which includes cases of important authorities," the petition stated.

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Rajan effect: Banks start cutting lending rate by up to 0.25%
It took a push from the RBI governor for banks to start reducing base rate for lending 
 
Following strong push from Dr Raghuram Rajan, the governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), several banks have started reducing their base rate for lending by up to 25 basis points or 0.25%. ICICI Bank cut its base rate by 0.25% to 9.75%, while State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender and HDFC Bank reduced their base rate by 15 bps to 9.85%. Private sector lender Axis Bank revised its base rate by 0.2% to 9.95% while Lakshmi Vilas Bank cut the rate by 15 bps to 11.1%.
 
With the two rate cuts of 25 bps each, not being reflected in lower interest rates for lending, RBI governor Dr Rajan said, the central bank has maintained a status quo this time until the monetary transmission takes place or lending rates become sensitive to the policy rates.
 
In a statement, he said, "Transmission of policy rates to lending rates has not taken place so far despite weak credit off take and the front loading of two rate cuts. With little transmission, and the possibility that incoming data will provide more clarity on the balance of risks on inflation, the Reserve Bank will maintain status quo in its monetary policy stance in this review."
 
Earlier, the RBI announced two rate cuts in January and in March in a hope that it would help reduce lending rate and thus benefit end borrowers. However, it did not materialise. In fact, when there was a status quo maintained by the RBI during 2014, banks were found regularly reducing interest rates on deposits. 
 
In January 2015, RBI, for the first time since May 2013, reduced the repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.75%. The central bank had kept the benchmark interest rate at 8% since January 2014. However, despite huge expectations from borrowers, there was hardly any change in interest charged by lenders.
 
Now look at the other situation. Whenever RBI announces an increase in its monetary policy rates, housing loan-providers, such as banks and finance companies, are quick to hike interest rates. However, these lenders never show the same efficiency, when there is a rate cut by RBI.  
 
This happens because RBI has given banks freedom to set their interest rates. RBI, in its master circular issued on 1 July 2014, has said, “Banks may, with the approval of their Boards, determine the rate of interest, keeping in view the size of accommodation, degree of risk and other relevant considerations.”
 
Banks often cite easy liquidity and slow credit offtake as main reasons for cutting interest rates on deposits. According to media reports, the reduction had been due to deposit growth outpacing credit growth, a drop in the money market rates and aligning with the competition, which had already cut the rates.
 
If at all banks have more liquidity and credit offtake is slower, why the lenders are not lending more or even thinking about reducing interest rate to attract more borrowers? This is not likely to happen. Because, banks, under the leadership of Indian Banks' Association (IBA) appear to be more interested in fleecing customers under different charges. One look at banks’ balance sheet would reveal how much they earning from other and other fee based income, rather than from interest earned.
 
When there is a rate cut in monetary policy, lenders first reduce their interest rates on deposits and, only when their average cost of funding comes down, they reduce their base rate. Another reason for lenders not reducing their base rate is that such action affects a major chunk of their loan portfolio and, thus, their balance sheet (read profit).
 
Coming down heavily on banks for not passing the rate cuts to borrowers, the RBI governor said, the notion that the cost of funds for banks has not fallen is 'nonsense'.  
 
While announcing the monetary policy, Dr Rajan said RBI like to encourage banks to move in a time bound manner to marginal cost of funds base to determine their base rate. The Reserve Bank will issue a guideline soon in this regard. This may have prompted banks to cut lending rates, albeit by a small percentage, compared with their reduction for deposit rates. 
 
With the introduction of the Base Rate on 1 July 2010 banks could set their actual lending rates on loans and advances with reference to the Base Rate. At present, banks are following different methodologies in computing their Base Rate – on the basis of average cost of funds, marginal cost of funds or blended cost of funds (liabilities). "Base Rates based on marginal cost of funds should be more sensitive to changes in the policy rates," RBI had said. 

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COMMENTS

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

Raghuram Rajan is as steeped in theory and propaganda as the average member of India's higher judiciary. Market Forces? In a country where Government owns and has fashioned a cartel out of more than 90% of all Banking, exempt from the MRTP Act and subjected to no law unless you want your grand children to continue a typically prejudiced case after your demise? A Banking system festooned with Bad Loans thrust upon it by its constructive owners, The Neta-Babu-Cop-Milard-Crony Kleptocracy of which Both RBI and the top Management of Indian banking are an integral part? Really?

Rajya Sabha TV, another white elephant?

According to reports, the channel has spent crores in four years without earning a penny. Will Modi’s minimum government make it more accountable?

Update: Updated on 9 April 2015 to include response from Rajya Sabha TV

The Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV), that was started by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat in 2011, has spent a whopping Rs1,700 crore without earning a penny over four years, says a report from Times of India.

According to the report, an inspection report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), even before the channel become fully operational, Rajya Sabha TV's executive directors and executive editors spent Rs60 lakh on just travel till February 2012. Rajya Sabha TV was launched in 2011, but become operational only in May 2012.

However, in a statement, Gurdeep Singh Sappal, chief executive and editor-in-chief of RSTV said, the figure Rs1,700 crore spent by the channel is a 'figment of imagination'. "It is categorically stated that the total expenditure was only Rs146.7 crore for the said four years, 2010-2014, inclusive of salaries, rentals, capital cost and operational expenses," he said.

A report from Times of India, quoting the CAG report says, "Since it started operations, RSTV has had no revenue, and has carried out recruitments that do not adhere to laid down norms, the inspection report says. Among other things, RSTV also does not track its viewership."

"It (CAG) has also raised questions about the way RSTV has made senior-level appointments and fixed their salary structures, which are not in conformity with that of Rajya Sabha secretariat or government. The inspection report has also pointed that RSTV management has taken several ad hoc decisions," the news report says.

Sappal, also refuted the reported observations made by the CAG. He said, "...CAG has not published or tabled any report against RSTV. During the annual audit done by the Director General of Audit (Central Expenditure) or DGACE for Rajya Sabha Secretariat, including RSTV, some draft observations were made. These draft observations have been distorted, presented with factual inaccuracies and falsely portrayed."

"The channel also rejects the statmetn that total viewership o fits four web-links put together is less than a lakh. RSTV's main online presence is through its YouTube channel. As of today, it has a viewership of over 12 lakh per month and a cumilative viewership is nearly 1.40 crore," the CEO of RSTV said in the statement.

Lok Sabha TV (LSTV), a 24-hour TV channel broadcasting in Hindi and English, came into being in 2006 replacing the DD Lok Sabha channel. Earlier in 2004, with efforts of the Lok Sabha and Prasar Bharati, two dedicated satellite channels were set up to telecast live the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament.

Till the launnch of RSTV, Doordarshan Rajya Sabha used to air the proceedings of the Upper House.

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COMMENTS

Chandrasekhara

2 years ago

The fraud EVMs
Central and State governments selected by these fraud tamperable EVMs,The e CJI Sathasivan who committed a grave error of judgement allowing the fraud EVMs to be replaced in phases. The ex CEC Sampath who proposed to do that helped 1% intolerant, militant, violent, stealth hindutva cult of chitpawan brahmin RSS to grab the MASTER KEY for Murderers of democratic institutions (Modi) with the help of paid newspapers and media. They are all WHITE ELEPHANTS.

D S Ranga Rao

2 years ago

Very sorry state of affairs. The Prime Minister who disbanded the Planning Commission, should also wind up this outfit which is said to have been nothing more than an asylum for rehabilitation of some nit-wits and psychopants and thus save the public exchequer from further loot and plunder of its coffers.

PRABHAT KUMAR

2 years ago

Please check figure 1700 crore. It is not more than 200 crore in any case in last 4 years. I think your reporter deliberately misquoted the figure just to malign the channel.

S D Agnihotri

2 years ago

There are factual inaccuracies in your story. Rajya Sabha TV has noting to do with Prasar Bharti. It is owned by Rajya Sabha Secretariat, Parliament of India. There is no audit by CAG of Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Only an annual audit is conducted by DGACE - Director General of Audit, Central Expenditure. RSTV has media professionals and their salaries are not comparable with govt. staff who are permanent employees. Please check ur facts again.

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