Following strong protests from RTI activists and citizens, the Maharashtra SIC withdrawn his order the blocked access to building plans under the transparency law
Following strong protest by activist and citizens, the Maharashtra state chief information commissioner (SIC) has withdrawn his ‘controversial’ order on blocking access to building plans or other document (like interior plans) to anyone under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
RTI activists Shailesh Gandhi, who also served as Central Information Commissioner, and Bhaskar Prabhu had filed a complaint against the SIC order. They pointed out to Ratnakar Gaikwad, the SIC that his order was not as per the law and would lead to encouraging illegal building activities.
"After hearing our submissions Mr Gaikwad has very wisely decided to withdraw the controversial order. This is a very good action and must be complimented. It is in the spirit of the RTI Act," said Mr Gandhi in a statement.
The SIC, in his order on 26 September 2013 had directed all local bodies in the state not to disclose building plans or other document (like interior plans) to anyone under the RTI Act, citing security concerns.
The SIC issued the order using powers vested under Section 19(8)(c) and 25(5) of the RTI Act, which said, "All municipal corporations, municipalities in the state are directed not to provide building plans or other related documents of public buildings including government and semi-government offices, hotels, gymkhanas, hospitals, malls, IT and commercial buildings. Similarly, in case of private buildings, interior plans will not be provided under RTI unless it is proved that the information sought is in public interest."
The order came as shock to several RTI activists such as MR Gandhi (who served as Central Information Commissioner) and Mr Prabhu, who are working on placing all permissions granted, approval plans and concessions for several buildings on the website of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC). Both, Gandhi and Prabhu are part of the BMC's technical advisory committee (TAC). The TAC was on the verge of ensuring suo moto disclosure of all building plans, and related documents by BMC.
RTI activist Anil Galgali, in a letter sent to Maharashtra governor K Shankarnarayan, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and chief secretary Jayant Banthiya has questioned the issuance of the order by Gaikwad. "...the order is bad in law, without application of mind, illegal, unconstitutional and against the RTI Act. The Information Commissioner has to pass orders within the purview of RTI Act on a case which is presented before it. It has no powers to pass any general orders/law, which is vested with either the government or the Legislature," Galgali said.
According to the SIC, on 25 September 2013, Subhash Desai, member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Shiv Sena wrote to him about serious lapses committed by Public Information Officers (PIOs) while furnishing information about building plans and these PIOs are violating Sections 8 (a, d), 9 and 11 of the RTI Act. Mr Desai requested the SIC to instrct BMC, MHADA and MMRDA not to provide information about public places like government/semi-government building, hotels, gymkhanas, hospitals, malls, IT buildings and commercial buildings. "Since the Commission was also of the same opinion, an order was issued on 26 September 2013 under Section 19(8) and 25(5) of the RTI Act," Mr Gaikwad stated in his order issued on 4 December 2013.
He, however, had cautioned public authorities to exercise adequate caution when demand for the plans of public utilities or buildings are made. He said, "Public authorities must consider if there is may be some danger to national security or public safety if these plans are given."
Welcoming the SIC's decision to withdraw the controversial order, Mr Gandhi said, "Citizens must point out mistakes to public servants who must be open to accepting citizens’ viewpoints. Together all of us must work to change and improve our governance. Public servants and citizens are not in an adversarial relationship. We should attempt to achieve our goal of a better Nation through cooperation".
Tarun Tejpal was subjected to a second round of medical tests on Wednesday even as Goa Police prepared to issue summons to Tehelka’s former managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and three others for recording their statements before a magistrate
The Goa police are likely to summon Shoma Chaowdhary, former managing editor of Tehelka and three other witnesses to record their statement before a magistrate in the case of alleged sexual assault against the magazine's editor Tarun Tejpal. Meanwhile, the Tehelka founder editor was today subjected to a second round of medical tests.
Tejpal, arrested for alleged sexual assault and rape of a junior woman colleague, had undergone several medical examinations on Monday, including a potency test, whose result was positive.
A senior Crime Branch official had said, "We have sought permission from the court to summon Chowdhary and three other witnesses and register their statement before the magistrate".
The investigating agency had already recorded a statement of Chowdhary during the initial stage of investigation in the case by meeting her at the Tehelka office in New Delhi, before she quit the position.
Officials said that the statement of Chowdhary is very crucial for the case as she was the first person to have known about the alleged sexual assault.
The official said that all the four would be called after the court gives the date to record the statement.
Tejpal was arrested on 30th November by crime branch after his anticipatory bail petition was rejected by a sessions court. On 1st December, he was remanded in six-day police custody by a court in the state.
A woman journalist, who was employed with Tehelka, had accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her twice on 7th and 8 November in a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa.
He has been booked under Sections 354A (outraging the modesty of a woman) and 376 (2)(K) (custodial rape) of IPC.
The woman journalist had mentioned in her statement that she had interacted with three of her colleagues soon after the alleged assault happened at a Goa hotel lift.
SEBI awaits satisfactory reply from the lead merchant bankers- ICICI Securities—who are merchant bankers to Great Eastern Company IPO
Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI) has sought clarifications from ICICI Securities the lead bankers to Great Eastern Energy Corporation, a coal-bed methane (CBM) explorer, regarding the company's proposed initial public offering (IPO). However, the details of the clarifications are unknown to the public.
SEBI may issue observations on a draft offer document filed with it within 30 days from “the date of receipt of satisfactory reply from the lead merchant bankers, where the Board has sought any clarification or additional information from them”.
The next status update of this will be known on December 6th.
The IPO will consist of 78 lakh shares are issued to public and an offer for sale of 4 lakh shares will be made by YKM Holdings International (i.e. 82 lakh shares of Rs10 each). Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas has 61.99% stake while YKM Holdings Pvt Ltd and YKM Holdings International Ltd have 26.34% and 10.53% holding, respectively.
As per draft red herring prospectus, there is no mention of floor price, but PTI reports state that the company is expected to mop up Rs400 crore.
As per draft red herring prospectus and restated financial statements, the company’s net worth was Rs426.2 crore and Rs389.06 crore as on March 31, 2013 and March 31, 2012 respectively.
SEBI earlier had received the draft offer documents on 17 September 2013 through its lead manager ICICI Securities Ltd, and the last communication it has received was on 11th November. Since then, it has issued a notice to ICICI Securities seeking some clarifications.