The 175th seminar of Moneylife Foundation focussed on understanding the key provisions of the RTI Act. Shailesh Gandhi, the former Central Information Commissioner, explained important dos and don’ts and how one can file effective application to ensure all the queries are answered
Moneylife Foundation has conducted a series of events and workshops in the past to empower its members to use the RTI (Right to Information) Act effectively. This was another session for beginners of the RTI series conducted by Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner (CIC). The session for beginners has received huge participation in the past and Saturday’s session as well had over 70 members.
In this seminar for beginners, Mr Gandhi gave an overview of the RTI Act, how it originated and where it can be used. He took the members through the important sections of the RTI Act in detail. The former CIC also covered various sections of the RTI Act where information can be sought and can be refused. He also explained the RTI application format and the format for filing an appeal.
For RTI users, the important part to remember while filing an application is that the information sought should not be vague and a reasonable timeline should be given. The applicant also should remember that the information she is seeking should be available on record.
Mr Gandhi emphasised that all information that is available as a record in any tangible form can be provided. Therefore, before filing an application, individuals should review if the information they are seeking is available as a record.
The application should be addressed to the right department, he added. If not done, it would create unnecessary delays. The RTI should be sent preferably through Speed Post, as you would get an acknowledgement that the public information officer (PIO) has received it.
The RTI Act lists special instances where the authorities can seek exemption from disclosing the information. Usually, Section 8 of the Act is commonly used by public authorities for claiming exemption from disclosure of information. Mr Gandhi explained this section in detail and offered advice on how one can phrase their queries in such a way that the information cannot be denied claiming exemption under Section 8.
Many times, the PIOs use Section 8(1)(e) for denying the information. Section 8 (1)(e) of the RTI Act exempts from disclosure 'information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information'.
Mr Gandhi said, "An equally important characteristic for the relationship to qualify as a fiduciary relationship is that the provider of information gives the information for using it for the benefit of the one who is providing the information. All relationships usually have an element of trust, but all of them cannot be classified as fiduciary. Information provided in discharge of a statutory requirement, or to obtain a job, or to get a license, cannot be considered to have been given in a fiduciary relationship."
In addition, information provided by an individual in fulfilment of statutory requirements is neither covered by the exemption under Section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act nor can it be called an unwarranted invasion of his privacy, the former CIC said.
While seeking information related with third party, the PIOs often cite exemption. As per Section 11 of the RTI Act, the PIO, as per the case, should give a written notice to the third party and invite the third party to make a submission regarding whether the information should be disclosed or not. There are several instances, where the PIOs have denied information citing objection from the third party.
However, Mr Gandhi said, Section 11 does not give a third party an unrestrained veto to refuse disclosing information. It only gives the third party an opportunity to voice its objections to disclosing information. "Section 11 is only a procedure which requires the PIO to inform the third party of his intention to disclose the information if the information was received in confidence. After receiving any objection from the third party if the information is exempt as per the provisions of Section 8(1) or 9 the information may be denied by the PIO after giving reasons," he said.
The former CIC also explained to the audience the relevant section on complaints and second appeals and how one should go about it.
We have also compiled a list of important judgements in cases where the information sought has been wrongly refused. Read here.
Gold prices have fallen. Bond prices have tanked. And now equities are sliding downwards with no end in sight. All those who wanted returns from market-linked products are running scared
The prevailing mood among Indian savers who want to take a bit of a higher risk for higher returns is bleak. All major asset classes are taking a beating and falling over like dominoes over the last few months. First, it was gold, which crashed in April. Then, bond prices got squeezed in June and July. And now, it is the turn of equities to cause heartburn to Indian savers. In the midst of all this, the rupee has pummeled, causing worries to importers, investors and policy makers alike. All those who looked to invest risky assets for higher return have been suffering one setback after another. The mood is truly despondent.
First, it was gold prices, which crashed in April. The average monthly price of gold was Rs30,520/10 gms in January which crashed to Rs26,768/10 gms by the end of May. During this period, panic ensued and a lot of investors started to take money out of gold and put it into bonds, which seemed the asset to buy because “everybody” expected the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to reduce interest rates. Meanwhile, the equity markets rose as RBI cut interest rates twice, once in March and once in May, from 7.75% to 7.25%.
In the beginning of the year, the sentiment was bullish after RBI cut interest rates, in January, to boost spending. This happened after the central bank was “satisfied” that inflation levels had moderated and time was ripe for growth. The Sensex reacted briefly, and moved up from 19,714 and punctured 20,000. At the same time, prior to the budget in February, the finance minister P Chidambaram, went shopping abroad to placate foreign institutional investors (FIIs), who were worried that no reform measures were undertaken. The markets started tanking in anticipation of a populist budget (rather than one with “reforms”). The budget turned out to be a total dampener. FIIs started withdrawing money in droves (Having believed in the FM’s promises, foreign brokers suffer a rude awakening) and this took the market to new yearly low, when Sensex touched 18,144 in mid-April.
Then, in late May, the US Federal Reserve announced that it would “taper” bond purchases (i.e. wind down its quantitative easing program). (Check out our article 'Quantitative easing myths debunked'). This sent not just the equity markets into a tailspin, but also emerging market currencies, particularly Brazil’s Real and Indian rupee. Riots ensued in Brazil while Indian policy makers were in a tizzy. The rupee depreciated from Rs54 levels and breached Rs60 levels. This caused RBI to panic and introduce a host of measures to stem the rupee decline, particularly tightening liquidity on banks, and kept interest rates the same. Investors, who had moved into bonds, suffered a massive blow. Bond prices fell. Food inflation returned to haunt the RBI.
Meanwhile, thanks to the rupee, price of gold, in rupee terms, became dearer. Concerns about fiscal deficit and current account deficit resurfaced. And rating agencies were concerned about India’s fiscal position. This caused short term bond yields to shoot up. Investors were worried about the government’s ability to service its debt, especially after the Cabinet approval of the controversial Food Security Bill which will dent long term fiscal deficit.
Equities are back to the levels seen after P Chidamambaram became the finance minister again last year.
The above graph shows the volatility in equity market this year. Gold, bonds, equities… all have disappointed investors so far this year. Many investors are uncertain about the direction of any of the markets. The fear is well and alive on risk street.
Check out our cover story: Turbulence ahead for equity, bonds and gold!
The first sign of a reversal of downtrend in Nifty will be if the index closes above 5,770 on Monday
The domestic market settled lower on pressure from rate-sensitive sectors after the RBI governor said that liquidity tightening measures would be eased only after the forex market stabilises. The NSE saw a huge volume of 72.68 crore shares.
The market opened in the green after the government yesterday eased FDI rules for multi-brand retail. Asian markets which were mostly higher in morning trade on positive economic news also boosted sentiments.
The Nifty opened 22 points higher at 5,750 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,400, up 83 points over its previous close. Buying in consumer durables, IT, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and technology sectors helped the benchmarks hit their high in initial trade. The Nifty rose to 5,762 and the Sensex went up to 19,452 at their respective highs.
The indices soon pared early gains and drifted lower on profit booking in PSU, realty, power and banking stocks. Meanwhile, the rupee lost 27 paise to 60.70 against the dollar in early trade on higher demand for the greenback from importers, even as RBI took more measures to curb the domestic unit’s fall.
The market continued to fall in post-noon trade on selling in metal, power, PSU and realty stocks. A comment by the RBI governor D Subbarao that the central bank will roll-back the liquidity tightening steps only after stability is seen in the forex market added to the investors’ woes.
The indices touched their lows in the late session on selling in rate-sensitive sectors with the Nifty slipping to as low as 5,649 and the Sensex declining to 19,079.
However, the market closed lower, but off the lows, on the RBI governor’s comments about considering easing liquidity curbs. The Nifty declined 50 points (0.87%) to settle at 5,678 and the Sensex closed trade at 19,164, a cut of 153 points (0.79%).
The broader indices too settled lower. The BSE Mid-cap index fell 0.40% and the BSE Small-cap index fell 1.32%.
BSE Consumer durables (up 5.38%); BSE IT (up 0.96%); BSE Teck (up 0.55%) and BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.08%) were the sectoral gainers while all other sectoral indices fell. The major losers were BSE Realty (down 4.01%); BSE Power (down 3.77%); BSE Metal (down 3.65%); BSE PSU (down 2.64%) and BSE Capital goods (down 1.55%).
Out of the 30 stocks on the Sensex, six stocks settled in the green. The main gainers were TCS (up 1.66%); Infosys (up 1.04%); Reliance Industries (up 0.84%); Wipro (up 0.58%) and Tata Motors (up 0.45%). The main losers were Jindal Steel (down 7.29%); Coal India (down 5.84%); Tata Power (down 3.93%); Sterlite Inds (down 3.92%) and Tata Steel (down 3.74%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were— Jaiprakash Power (up 16.04%) and IRB Infrastructure (up 13.76%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were— Financial Technologies (down 21.12%) and MCX (down 20%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were— Sharp India (up 20%) and Hindustan Construction (up 19.95%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were— Shalimar Paints (down 19.99%) and Rainbow Denim (down 19.89%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 15 ended in the in the green. The major gainers were Ranbaxy (up 4.06%); Cairn (up 2.60%); ACC (up 2.29%); Ambuja Cements (up 2.21%) and Lupin (up 2.08%). The main losers were Power Grid (down 11.52%); Jaiprakash Associates (down 9.09%); Jindal Steel (down 8.08%); DLF (down 6.86%); and Bank of Baroda (down 5.84%).
Markets in Asia settled mostly in the green on firm economic news from across the world. The European Central Bank’s decision to keep rates low for some more time and the US Federal Reserve’s move to continue its bond buying programme also supported the gains.
The Shanghai Composite added 0.02%; the Hang Seng gained 0.46%; the Jakarta Composite rose 0.36%; the KLSE Composite advanced 0.26%; the Nikkei 225 surged 3.29%; the Straits Times gained 0.33%; the Seoul Composite settled 0.14% higher and the Taiwan Weighted climbed 0.54%.
At the time of writing, two of the three key European indices were in the positive and the US stock futures were trading with minor gains.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of equities amounting to Rs177.78 crore on Thursday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares totalling Rs293.62 crore.
TVS Motor Company plans to set up an assembly line in Uganda. The company will also launch two new motorcycle models for Uganda. The company has appointed a new distributor, Yuvaraj International Uganda Limited. The company has been present in two wheeler segment in Uganda for about a decade and currently has around eight dealers offering sales, service and spare parts facilities across the country. The company plans to reach 25% market share within a year of commencing operation with the new distributor. The stock rose 1.46% to close at Rs31.25 on the NSE.