The order was issued in connection with an appeal filed seeking information about all communication received by the market regulator from the capital markets division of the finance ministry
MS Sahoo, whole-time member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been issued a show-cause notice by the Central Information Commission asking him to show cause as to why an appellant should not be paid Rs25,000 as compensation for the detriment caused to her on account of the perfunctory manner in which her Right to Information (RTI) application and appeal was heard and disposed of.
Information Commissioner AN Tiwari issued the order in connection with an appeal filed by Seema Kashyap to SEBI seeking information about all communication received by the market regulator from the capital markets division of the finance ministry on norms for approval of new stock exchanges, currency derivatives, SME exchange, interest-rate derivatives, corporate bond markets and ownership guidelines for stock exchanges.
Ms Kashyap received a reply from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO). However, not satisfied with the reply, she then moved the Appellate Authority. The Authority rejected her plea that the information disclosed had no relation to what had been requested. Ms Kashyap then approached the Central Information Commission claiming that what was supplied by SEBI by way of information was "nothing more than a bunch of irrelevant letters and news items having no relation to the information sought." During the hearing, Ms Kashyap pointed out that rather than provide her the particular information she sought, the CPIO went on a tangent giving out a plethora of entirely unrelated information and surprisingly, the Appellate Authority approved the CPIO's action.
In an order, the Information Commissioner said, "I find that the disclosed information was at variance with what the appellant had requested. The focus of the CPIO and the Appellate Authority ought to have been on the 'communications' of a certain variety as received by SEBI from the government of India and not material on the issues contained in the points which the appellant had listed. I wonder how such elementary aspects of the appellant's RTI query escaped the notice of both the CPIO and the Appellate Authority. Prima facie, there seems to be an attempt to somehow fob off the appellant with some vague information rather than give to her what she had really demanded. If SEBI had received no communication from the government of India of the type the appellant had mentioned in her RTI application, a proper response to that effect would have been entirely in order. Unfortunately, that was not to be."
The Information Commissioner directed the CPIO to provide precise information sought by Ms Kashyap pertaining to her RTI queries within two weeks. The Commission also issued notices to the CPIO as to why proceedings under Section 20 of the RTI Act should not be drawn up against him for providing false and misleading information to the appellant.
While the order was issued some time ago, it has been put in the public domain only recently. This is probably the first time that a regulator has been threatened with a fine for not providing proper information to a citizen under the RTI Act.
Interestingly, under the previous chairman, SEBI used to take pride in its claim that it answered all RTI queries. However, the regulator now seems to share the same attitude at the two leading bourses - the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange - who have both gone to court claiming that they should not be subject to the RTI Act.
Meanwhile, SEBI had filed a writ petition against the CIC order in the Bombay High Court. The HC, while admitting the petition sent a notice to the CIC, returnable by 26th July and said, "...till then there will be ad interim order in terms of prayer clause".
Web-based ticket agents will not get access to tatkal bookings from 8am to 9am following complaints from passengers, who claim that agents corner tickets during this period
Railways have decided to bar web-based ticket agents of Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) from getting access to tatkal bookings from 8 am to 9 am after receiving complaints against them from people.
Passengers have been long complaining of the IRCTC website crashing as soon as the booking commences in the morning. There are complaints that agents corner tickets during this period and tatkal quota getting exhausted within minutes, said a Railway official.
"Taking such complaints into account, Railways have decided not to give the web-based agents and webservices agents of the IRCTC access to tatkal booking from 8 am to 9 am," he said, adding the decision will be implemented shortly.
The move will, however, be temporary in nature. "We want to give individuals a chance to book their ticket without any problem and if passenger complaints are addressed through this move we would implement the decision permanently," he said.
Indian Railways sees over 9.5 lakh booking across the country each day, 30% of which is done through the IRCTC portal. There are approximately about eight lakh agents under IRCTC.
According to reports, railway minister Mamata Banerjee was also believed to have asked the Railway Board to find ways to address the issue after being inundated with such complaints.
Tatkal tickets apart, IRCTC agents will also be barred from getting access to booking berths on trains on the first day of advance reservation period.
Advance reservation period opens 90 days in advance and the agents cannot have access to booking for the first hour on the opening day, the official said.
"With this move, we want to curb the menace of touting as passengers have often complained of," he said.
Railways have also launched special drive to get rid of touts resorting to irregularities at passenger reservation counters.
The problem is more pronounced during holiday seasons and festivals.
Reliance Power’s merger with RNRL will mean little to either companies. It also underlines how wrong the market can be about a stock’s value
Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) stock plummeted 27.6% on Monday to Rs 46.4, from the previous day's closing price, followed by a further weakening on Tuesday. This follows what seemed to the market an unfavourable share-swap ratio in its merger with Reliance Power. An episode like this underlines how markets can be hugely wrong for a long stretch of time. Was the swap ratio really unfavourable?
RNRL has been trading at around Rs70 for the past few months. At its height in 8 June 2008, it traded at a price as high as Rs245. All this while RNRL has been a shell company with virtually no business, except some claimed prospects in coal-bed methane. Investors and punters were hoping that it would trade in gas and make huge money through what economists call rent-seeking. It was supposed to buy gas from Reliance and sell it to the gas-based power plants of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. ADAG also showed a vague pretence to get into other resource businesses. One was cement for which it hired Anil Singhvi, former managing director of Ambuja Cement. But this was dropped after a year or so. Now comes the merger with Reliance Power which finally underlines that RNRL has no future on its own. It was born a shell and died a shell.
On Friday, the boards of RNRL and Reliance Power approved a merger. KPMG valued RNRL at Rs 7,157 crore, leading to a share-swap ratio of 4:1. The market expected a share-swap ratio of 3:1 based on the trading price of the two stocks.
RNRL had closed on Friday at Rs63.65 while Reliance Power was at Rs175.15. It was ridiculous for the market to value RNRL so highly in the first place. What begs the question is what does RNRL have by way of assets and revenues that it was valued at over Rs7,000 crore? On the other hand, didn't Reliance Power make India's largest and most-hyped public issue in January 2008 when it was a shell company but instantly entered all the major market indices and also the derivatives segment? The two are of a kind. Subsequently, Reliance Energy's power assets were shifted to Reliance Power to add some assets. Now RNRL gets erased.
The merger was the only way out for ADAG to allocate gas to Reliance Power as the government's gas-utilisation policy does not give priority to a gas-trading company like RNRL but to only actual gas users like power and fertiliser companies. This was again affirmed by the Supreme Court of India in May this year stating that the government has the right and power to set up the price and users for gas. This supposedly left no or little opportunity for RNRL which was set up five years before with the only purpose of procuring gas for Reliance Power.
The merger has salvaged RNRL at the expense of the shareholders of Reliance Power which plans to set up a huge 37,000MW capacity out of which 10,000MW of power will supposedly be generated from gas. The company is talking of setting up seven coal-fired power plants, two gas-fired units and seven hydroelectric projects.
The official reason for valuing RNRL so highly is that it has coal bed methane blocks with estimated resources of 193 billion cubic meters and an oil & gas block (RNRL holds 10% stake) with acreage of 3,619 sq km and reserve potential of up to 28 billion cubic metres. All these are currently estimates and ADAG's projections and estimates have proved to be notoriously fickle. The merger carries no synergy and erases another iffy chapter of ADAG companies.