While staying the CIC order on a plea by the CBI, the court also issued a notice to information seeker PC Srivastava seeking his response on the agency's petition by 25 January 2012
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed a Central Information Commission (CIC) order imposing Rs5,000 fine on the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) for failing to give reasons for not naming Ambani brothers in a case related to alleged masking of international calls as local ones by erstwhile Reliance Infocomm, reports PTI.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw suspended the CIC's 25th July order which had imposed the fine on the CBI's public information officer (PIO) also for failing to appear personally before the CIC to explain the non-compliance with its order.
While staying the CIC order on a plea by the CBI, justice Endlaw also issued a notice to information seeker PC Srivastava seeking his response on the agency's petition by 25 January 2012.
"PIO has neither responded to the summons issued by the commission nor provided any written explanation for not furnishing the information to the complainant in accordance with its order dated 26 May 2011," the CIC had said while imposing the penalty on the CBI PIO.
The CIC also pointed out that the CBI neither gave the requisite information by 20 June 2011 deadline not secured stay on its order by the high court.
The high court, earlier, on another plea by the CBI had stayed the part of the CIC order, which asked the probe agency to disclose to Mr Srivastava its reasons for not naming the Ambani brothers in the international call masking case, despite having named several top officials of Reliance Infocomm.
The CBI had taken up the probe into the case in 2006, a year after Reliance Industries was divided between the feuding siblings-Mukesh and Anil. Reliance Infocomm went to Anil was rechristened as Reliance Communications.
The court had stayed the CIC order on 13th July while deciding to hear CBI plea on 25 January 2012.
The agency had refused to disclose information to the RTI applicant, saying doing so would affect its prosecution in the case.
"Disclosing such information would provide clues to other accused in the case by which they would be able to argue why they too should not be charged," the CBI had said.
"Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act exempts disclosure of information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders."
Last year, the CBI had filed a charge-sheet against the Reliance Infocomm officials Manoj Modi, Akhil Gupta, Shankar Adawal, Pankaj Powar, KR Raju and Bhagwan Das Khurana in the case relating to masking of international calls.
Mr Srivastava had sought to know from the CBI the reasons for not making the Ambani brothers as accused in the case relating to the alleged manipulation and tampering of calling lines, identification of ISD calls by Reliance Infocomm and thereby passing off international calls as local ones and thus causing loss to the government and its PSUs, BSNL and MTNL, worth several crores of rupees.
The retired PIO, who cited Section 8 to deny information, will now have to pay the fine amount from his monthly pension
The chief information commissioner (CIC) has fined a former public information officer (PIO) of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for denying and delaying information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
The matter relates to the RTI application dated 21 September 2010 by Paritosh Kumar of Patna, who sought information from the EPFO's zonal office. MM Das, who was the assistant provident fund commissioner as well as the PIO for the EPFO office at the time, in his reply to the application on 14 October 2010, cited Section 8 of the RTI Act to deny some information.
Mr Kumar complained to CIC, Shailesh Gandhi, that even the chief PIO (CPIO) denied him the information, again citing Section 8 in a summary manner, without providing details of the sub-section of Section 8, or giving any reason for claiming an exemption from providing the information.
During the hearing on the complaint on 13 July 2011, the CIC observed that Mr Das did not provide the required information in complete form. "From the facts before the Commission, it appears that Mr MM Das is guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7, by not replying within 30 days, as per the requirement of the RTI Act. He has further refused to obey the orders of his superior officer, which raises a reasonable doubt that the denial of information may also be malafide."
The CIC also asked Mr Das to appear on 9th August and submit proof of providing information to Mr Kumar. In a written submission, Mr Das stated that he wanted to claim exemption under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act and that by mistake he wrote only Section 8. However, the Commission said it did not see how Section 8(1)(h) applies to the queries sought by Mr Kumar. It said, "It is evident that the respondent (Mr Das), without any application of mind, refused to provide the information. He did not even consider it necessary to explain the reasons how he felt that the information was exempt."
According to Section 19 (5) of the RTI Act, in any appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that a denial of a request is justified rests with the CPIO, or state PIO, who denies the request. Therefore, if the information is not provided within specified time and without giving any reason, the Commission levies a penalty of Rs250 per day, till the information is provided.
In the case of Mr Kumar, he received the information required only on 29 July 2011, after the order from the CIC. Although, the delay was more than 100 days, the Commission imposed the maximum penalty of Rs25,000, under Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act, on Mr Das who was then PIO.
The CIC stated in its order, "The Central Provident Fund Commissioner, EPFO is directed to recover the amount of Rs25,000 from the pension of Mr MM Das and remit the same by a demand draft or a Banker's Cheque in the name of the Pay & Accounts Officer, CAT, payable at New Delhi and send the same to Shri Pankaj KP Shreyaskar, Joint Registrar and Deputy Secretary of the Central Information Commission, 2nd floor, August Kranti Bhawan, New Delhi. The amount may be deducted at the rate of Rs2,500 per month, every month, from the Pension of Mr MM Das, and remitted by the 10th of every month starting from September 2011. The total amount of Rs25,000 will be remitted by 10 June, 2012."
It is evident from this ruling, that a public information officer cannot shirk his/her responsibility and may have to pay a fine for any negligence or wrongdoing, even after his/her retirement.
Nifty to see some gains up to 5,200, if it holds on to the support at 5,050
The domestic market opened higher on supportive global cues, after the positive close on Wall Street overnight gave a boost to the Asian markets in morning trade. The Nifty resumed 56 points higher at 5,194, and the Sensex opened trade at 17,247, up 188 points from its previous close. The opening figures on both benchmarks were their intra-day highs.
However, the market couldn't sustain the opening gains and the indices gradually slipped into the negative, within an hour, on selling pressure. The indices ventured into the green again for a short while, in mid-morning trade, but then again succumbed to profit taking. They continued to drift further southwards and got worse as European indices gave up their initial gains.
The indices fell to their intra-day lows in noon trade, ignoring the higher industrial output data for June that showed an 8.8% growth. At the lows, the Nifty went back to 5,053 and the Sensex fell below the 17,000 mark to 16,785. The market was range-bound in late trade. At the close, the Nifty stood at 5,073, down 65 points and the Sensex fell 220 points to 16,840.
If the Nifty support at 5,050 breaks, the fall could be sharp. As long as the support holds, a move up to 5,200 is possible.
The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was 553:851.
In the broader market space, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 0.46% and the BSE Small-cap index lost 0.44%.
All sectoral gauges settled in the negative. The losers were led by BSE IT (down 2.44%, BSE TECk (down 2.24%), BSE Bankex (down 1.63%), BSE Realty (down 1.49%) and BSE Power (down 1.14%).
The top gainers on the Sensex were Jindal Steel (up 2.57%), Mahindra & Mahindra (up 1.82%), Hero MotoCorp (up 1.79%), ONGC (up 0.76%) and Hindustan Unilever (up 0.17%). The key losers were Tata Motors (down 5.26%), Hindalco Industries (down 4.04%), Jaiprakash Associates (down 3.28%), Tata Power (down 3.12%) and Wipro (down 2.92%).
The best performers on the Nifty were Jindal Steel (up 2.74%), M&M (up 1.72%), Hero MotoCorp (up 1.65%), GAIL (up 1.40%) and Cairn India (up 1.07%). The laggards of the index were Tata Motors (down 5.88%), Hindalco (down 4.90%), Reliance Capital (down 4.74%), JP Associates (down 3.89%) and Kotak Bank (down 3.39%).
Markets in Asia shed some of the gains to end mixed, as investors were cautious on fresh debt issues in Europe. In economic news, bank lending in China slowed in July to a seven-month low, after monetary authorities tightened policy.
The Shanghai Composite gained 0.45%, the Hang Seng advanced 0.13%, the Jakarta Composite climbed 0.55%, the KLSE Composite rose 0.49% and the Straits Times jumped 1.94%. On the other hand, the Nikkei 225 lost 0.20%, the Seoul Composite tanked 1.33% and the Taiwan Weighted slipped 0.16%.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of stocks worth Rs59.79 crore on Thursday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs266.25 crore.
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) on Thursday granted Reliance Infrastructure the license to transmit and distribute power in suburban Mumbai for the next 25 years. MERC has also granted it the license to transmit power in the region. The stock closed at Rs479.35 on the NSE, down 0.87% from its previous close.
Pharma major Ranbaxy Laboratories today said its over-the-counter (OTC) division has launched a two-in-one painkiller, 'Volini Duo', across the country. The product has been developed by scientists at the company's Gurgaon R&D centre, using matrix technology, which enables the regulated release of the medicine in the gastrointestinal tract, the company said. The stock declined by 1.61% to settle at Rs482.35 on the NSE.
Apparel firm Provogue India today said it will demerge its real estate business into a newly incorporated entity. As a part of a corporate restructuring plan, the company will also merge its subsidiary Prozone Enterprises with the new entity. The company's stock gained 1.16% to end at Rs30.60 on the NSE.
The domestic market will reopen only on Tuesday after the Independence Day holiday on Monday.