Right to Information
HC gives tarikh pe tarikh to hear CIC order for bringing Mumbai Airport under RTI
An activist, who has been fighting a lone battle to bring Mumbai International Airport under the RTI Act, continues to be stonewalled by postponements for four years 
 
This is a classic case of how a decision by the Central Information Commission (CIC) is stonewalled by the vested interests, in keeping a public-private-partnership (PPP) with the Ministry of Aviation, outside the ambit of RTI Act. Pune-based RTI activist Sanjay Shirodkar has been knocking at the doors of the Delhi High Court, which has given 13 dates since 2010, the latest seeking submission from the Right to Information (RTI) activist, on 31 August 2015. Shirodkar exasperatedly states, “Tarikh pe tarikh and stay is on. This is my lonely battle as a citizen and taxpayer against a giant. Let us hope the Court gives an order and RTI is implemented in this big PPP.”
 
The ministry of Civil Aviation handed over its profit-making Mumbai International Airport (MIL) to a private company, GVK for modernization in 2006. The initial capital put by Airport Authority of India (AAI) was Rs250 crore. It also gave on lease, land of 2,000 acres worth Rs80,000 crore for a rent of Rs100 a year only and that too for 30 long years. A consortium led by the IDBI has given Rs9,000 crore towards Infrastructure loan and the Government of Maharashtra has waived off stamp duty of Rs250 crore for the project.
 
Further, as mandated by the Government, on 2 March 2006, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was formed for the Mumbai Airport. On 4 April 2006, Operations Management and Development Agreement (OMDA) were signed. As per the shareholders agreement, 26% shares in the SPV were allotted to AAI and 74% shares allotted to GVK. This implies (as per the CIC order of 30 May 2011 ) that “Mumbai International Airport Ltd is a Joint Venture Company in which 26% shareholding is held by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and this gives control to the AAI over vital matters which require 3/4th majority.”
 
Pune-based RTI activist, Sanjay Shirodkar, filed a RTI application on 9 January 2008 to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of MIAL demanding transparency under the RTI Act. However, the PIO in his reply on 13 February 2008 stated that MIAL is not public authority, quoting the case of Delhi International Airport Ltd, which does not come under RTI, despite the fact that it was declared Public Authority under the RTI Act on 17 January 2007 by a CIC decision. 
 
Shirodkar then filed a complaint with the Central Information Commission on 20 February 2008. The CIC took cognizance of the complaint and called both the parties for hearing on 11 June 2008. The CIC passed an order, declaring MIAL as public authority under the RTI Act and ordered it to appoint a PIO within 30 days of receipt of the order. 
 
The order stated, “We find no hesitancy in declaring MIAL as a Public Authority under Clauses (d) and (i) respectively, of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. MIAL shall appoint a CPIO and FAA within 30 days of the receipt of this Order and shall also fulfill the mandate of Section 4(1) disclosure as mandated under the RTI Act, within 2 months of the receipt of this Order.’’
 
CIC Sushma Singh concluded that MIAL is public authority on the basis of the following sections of the RTI Act. Her order states: “The only provision which concerns us is clauses (d) and (i) respectively, of Section 2(h). 
 
Section 2(h) is reproduced here for the sake of clarity: 
 
2. Definitions – In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-- (h) "public authority" means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted— (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any— (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non-Government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government; (emphasis added).” 
 

MIAL goes to Court

However, MIAL did not obey CIC order which prompted Shirodkar to file a complaint with the CIC. In the meanwhile, MIAL went to the Delhi High Court which passed an order on 22 November 2010, wherein the CIC order was set aside, “on the ground that no opportunity provided to the MIAL for presenting its case. The High Court further directed the CIC to restore the appeal of Shirodkar and hear both the sides and accordingly, pass a reasoned order thereon.’ Accordingly, the CIC once again held a hearing on 30 May 2011, pronouncing MIAL as public authority.
 
The MIAL, in its submission to the Delhi High Court has stated that it cannot come under the RTI Act because:
(a) The Petitioner No. 1 is an agent or instrumentality of State and therefore “State” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
 
(b) The Airports Authority of India Act, 1994 had to be amended in the year 2003 to enable private entities to perform the functions of AAI.
 
(c) The Petitioner No. 1 is a lessee of the AAI of the airport land. The said lease has been created by virtue of S.12-A of the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994,’’’
 
Ever since, there have been postponements to Court hearings from the MIAL side.
 
Shirodkar was asked to once again file a submission to the Delhi High Court, which his advocate has done on 31 August 2015. He has made the following points:
i. As per, Ministry of Civil Aviation a Group of Ministers was constituted to examine National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) on 27 June 2007. But Mumbai Airport PPP was awarded before that in 2006. 
 
ii. Cabinet Secretariat says, they do not have information regarding GoM – Group of Ministers for Ministry of Civil Aviation, CAG report on Ministry of Civil Aviation.
 
iii. Mega airports of Mumbai and Delhi were transferred to JVC. Govt. of Maharashtra waived off Stamp Duty of Rs250 crores for MIAL.
 
iv. MIAL PPP project is worth more than Rs10,000 crore. Still there is no info with SEBI, BSE, and NSE. Even Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, DGCA, AERA, PPP Cell of MINFIN, Ministry of External Affairs are unable to provide information on stake transfer worth Rs1,140 crore from the company in Hyderabad India i.e. GVK Airport Holdings Pvt Ltd to a company in Mauritius, i.e. Bid Services Division (Mauritius) Ltd.
 
v. Oil PSUs like HPCL, BPCL, IOC also started using banking norms of fiduciary capacity, and commercial confidence.  HPCL outstanding amount to be recovered from KingFisher Airline is Rs525 crore, Air India Rs581 crore, Paramount Airways Rs19 crore. HPCL, BPCL and IOC give no information regarding bounced cheques and discounts offered to any airline. They term it as Commercial and Trade Secret.
 
vi. AERA listed aeronautical revenues, but could not provide list of non-aeronautical revenues of MIAL PPP.
 
vii. CAG has not done any audit of MIAL PPP, which is a project worth Rs10,000 crore 
 
viii. The Supreme Court of India in its recent Judgment dated 9 August 2011 in the case of CBSE & Anr vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors’ [C.A. No.6454/2011 arising out of SLP (C) No.7526/2009] has fully acknowledged the regulatory powers exercisable by the CIC under the RTI Act.
 
ix. While deciding a substantial question of law involving interpretation of Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, the Court may also note that when the Government contributed Rs65 crore, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), was declared a public authority. Land was given on concessional rate, hence it was also considered as funding by government. 
 
Hence, this Court may be pleased to dismiss the present petition with direction to the petitioner to comply with the impugned order dated 30/05/2011 of the CIC in full. 
 
 

Why MIAL fits the bill of being a public authority

 

MIAL is a Joint Venture Company in which 26% shareholding is held by the AAI and this gives control to the AAI over vital matters which require 3/4th majority. MIAL had been specially incorporated "inter alia with the objectives of operating, maintaining, developing, designing, constructing, upgrading, modernizing, financing and managing the Airport". Airport is defined in Clause 1.1 of OMDA to mean "the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport". MIAL is the lessee of the AAI under Section 12A of the AAI Act, which provides that some of the functions of the AAI may be transferred to the MIAL and that the MIAL shall have all the powers of the AAI in the performance of any such functions in terms of the lease. The operation, maintenance and development of the airport is governed by OMDA executed between the AAI and MIAL. Thus, MIAL is a special purpose joint venture Company formed only because of Section 12A of AAI Act.

 

The restructuring of the Mumbai and Delhi International Airports was to take place only through JV route and the bidders were thus under an obligation to create a special purpose vehicle – one of the forms being a Private Company like MIAL – in order to execute the OMDA. Clause (d) of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act contemplates exactly such kind of situation by using the words “body established or constituted by an order made by the appropriate Government”. A gazette notification of such an Order has not been necessarily mandated by the RTI Act. 15. The relationship between the shareholders is governed by the Shareholders Agreement dated 04/04/2006 entered into between the shareholders of MIAL including AAI. The governmental services to be provided to MIAL is governed by the State Support Agreement dated 26/04/2006 entered into between MIAL and the Government of India. MIAL also entered into a separate State Government Support Agreement with Government of Maharashtra.

 
 
 
(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

manoharlalsharma

1 year ago

HC gives tarikh pe tarikh to hear CIC order for bringing Mumbai Airport under RTI/ u r lucky enough to have tarikh pe tarikh there r some of us so unlucky that even after having order for final hearings no t a single date.(CAW-1756/2013)@ HC Bombay.

Mr Jitendra

1 year ago

I found this link which says Mumbai Metro was brought under RTI.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/...

Mr Jitendra

1 year ago

Is Mumbai Metro coming under RTI? I remember few months back Mr Shailesh Gandhi was behind getting Mumbai Metro under RTI.

murthypgk

1 year ago

State sponsored corruption and nepotism and hence beyond judicial jurisdiction

tikku

1 year ago

It. is a very Democratic way to refuse justice in India. A country which boasts of Democracy. Indian judiciary is ACTUALLY is not let alone. Politics is influencing it that also in favour of those who have money to spare in plenty.

tikku

1 year ago

It. is a very Democratic way to refuse justice in India. A country which boasts of Democracy. Indian judiciary is ACTUALLY is not let alone. Politics is influencing it that also in favour of those who have money to spare in plenty.

Expansion cycle soon, predicts Morgan Stanley
According to Morgan Stanley, India is one of the few EM economies that has already undergone a period of adjustment to improve its macro stability and is making steadfast progress towards improving the growth mix and productivity
 
India's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is likely to accelerate gradually and inflation to remain below 5% over the next two years. According to Morgan Stanley, this will be a longer duration expansion cycle for India with low risks of overheating in the next two years considering the overall policy approach of government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
 
Morgan Stanley, in a research note said, "India is one of the few EM economies that has already undergone a period of adjustment to improve its macro stability and is making steadfast progress towards improving the growth mix and productivity dynamic. In our view, India stands out as EM growth is likely to be below its 30-year average and a large number of EM economies are still in adjustment phase. India is also one of the few Asian economies that is not facing a high level of debt and demographics issues."
 
 
Revising India's growth estimates marginally to 7.5% for FY2016 from 7.9% earlier and 8.1% for FY2017 from 8.4% earlier, the report says it is in line with the growth trajectory due to bad weather and weak external environment. "Growth trend is showing initial signs of recovery with pick up in capex and discretionary consumer spending. However, the continued weakness in external demand and slowdown in rural consumption spending with cuts in the government’s redistribution policies are holding back the pace of recovery. Moreover, the recent weakness in rainfall trends has raised concerns on agriculture output growth, with related repercussions for rural consumption," Morgan Stanley said.
 
 
According to the report, over the last three years, India has been taking up macro adjustment policies to improve macro stability and the productivity environment in a sustainable manner. It says, "Policymakers pursued tight fiscal as well as monetary policies. In past cycles, India has had the advantage of managing these adjustment cycles better with support of exports (like in 1998-99 and 2003-04), which helped it to step out of the adjustment phase faster. Hence, we believe that the growth recovery will be slow and largely premised on domestic demand."
 
 
Morgan Stanley expects India's GDP growth recovery to be driven by a pickup in capex, more public than private, urban consumption and stabilization of exports i.e. not continuing to contract. However, the pace of policy actions to revive productivity dynamic, strength of external demand recovery and trend in capital inflows into emerging markets are the factors that will influence the growth outlook, Morgan Stanley warned.
 

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Air India connects Bengaluru with Mysuru
National carrier Air India on Thursday launched its Mysuru-Bengaluru service by an ATR turboprop aircraft.
 
The service is available throughout the week save Wednesday, the national carrier said in a statement.
 
Karnataka Tourism Minister R.V.Deshpande, who flagged off the maiden flight at the Kempe Gowda international airport, said the service fulfils a long-standing need of passengers of Mysuru region, who can fly to many destinations across the country and overseas, with connecting flights from Bengaluru. Revenue Minister Sreenivas Prasad, Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee and other dignitaries were also present.
 
The aircraft will take off from here at 6 a.m., land at Mysuru by 6.40 a.m.. It will depart there 7 a.m. to reach here at 7.40 a.m.
 
The state's cultural capital, Mysuru, about 150 km from Bengaluru by road, is known the world over for its Dasara festival procession and tourist spots like Brindavan Garden, Butterfly Park, Ambi Vilas Palace and hilltop Chamundeshwari temple. It is also a gateway for adventure tourists going for river rafting at Dubare, to the elephant camp and coffee estates in Coorg, besides Bandipur and Nagarhole wildlife sanctuaries.

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COMMENTS

Gopalakrishnan T V

1 year ago

This may not be of any use for bangaloreans or Mysoreans who visit Bangalore as the time taken to reach air port and from airport to any destination in Bangaore is anything between two and three hours on normal traffic days. If some block happens due to VIP movement or some small hindrance some where, one cannot predict the time required to anf airport, Bangalore. In Bangalore there are no trunk roads worth the name and gullies, footpaths wherever available, narror roads having 10ft and 20 feet width are being used as trunk roads Authorities should think of improving the Road infrastructure first before going in for flight services to nearby places which can be reached within the same time instead of travelling to and fro airport spending additional time, money and energy. Time wise, cost wise, convenince wise, flight services may not suit travellers. It can at best serve politicians who have a pass and who enjoy certain free facilities.

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