Moneylife Events
Moneylife Foundation hosts RTI Workshop for advanced users

Former CIC Shailesh Gandhi cited several specific orders that participants could quote in certain situations and several useful tip for filing appeals in a highly interactive session for advanced users


Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commission (CIC) with the highest record of disposing cases advised RTI (Right to Information) users to make better use of the inspection provision during the appeal process, as the chances of getting information is better.  He was speaking at Moneylife Foundation’s second Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) workshop for regular users of RTI.  Mr Gandhi dwelt on common misconceptions of RTI provisions among participants as well as information officers and offered a wealth of information as well as tricks and tips on how to succeed in the appeal process and avoid delays in getting information. 
Interestingly, Mr Gandhi who has the record of highest disposal of cases at the CIC and is the first activist to become a central information commissioner, constantly stressed that activists must keep their language civil, avoid rambling applications and not take an adversarial attitude towards public information commissioners (PIOs) or at the appellate hearings. He also advised activists to focus on getting information rather than teaching PIOs a lesson. He said that when making complaints citizens should make a demand for compensation. Mr Gandhi suggested that the demand for compensation should be small—Rs1,000 to Rs.2,000. He advised that citizens should not focus on the penalty aspect very aggressively. As far as penalty was concerned the Commissioner has to decide whether the delay in providing information was reasonable or not, which is a subjective assessment. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to spot the officer responsible for the delay. However if the Commissioner has decided that the there was no reasonable cause for delay, the penalty had to be imposed at Rs250 per day of delay.
Mr Gandhi provided plenty of examples and anecdotes from his own vast experience of disposing cases to help participants use the RTI Act effectively and to succeed in the appeal process through smart strategizing. One suggestion was to quote previous orders of the CIC. He cited several specific orders that participants could quote in certain situations. 
The provisions of RTI are contained in Section 8(1), which Mr Gandhi devoted much of the session time. It is the contents of this Section that one’s RTI query can be refused. He also gave several examples of how PIOs refuse RTI queries. The most common excuse by information officers for arbitrarily refusing information is that they hold it in a fiduciary capacity. He advised participants to go through the Central Information Commissioner Judgement (CIC/SG/A/2012/000857/19484) in order to get the background of a case where fiduciary relationship refusal was overturned in favour of the appellant. 
Likewise, Mr Gandhi said that Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act was also another commonly abused provision.  The RTI Act said that information can be refused on the grounds that “information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders” can be refused. The keyword here is ‘impede’ and most PIOs misuse this word. If an RTI query is turned down based on this ground, the PIO must give the reason how and why it impedes an investigation. Mr Gandhi cited case number: CIC/SG/A/2012/000365/18351, and advised participants to use this as a background while filing an appeal in order to ask for the reasons caused. 
He said that there are no appeal fees nor is there any particular format for filing to the CIC. However, he said that filing a second appeal is a long-drawn out process and will take as much as two years. He advised participants to maintain a repository of all the RTI queries, appeals in an orderly fashion so that they can easily refer to it and retrieve information. 
Before he touched upon the issues of appeals, he gave a brief background on the evolution of the RTI. He said, “Freedom of expression without the Right to Information is meaningless”, citing the importance of information in a diverse democratic country like India. He said that information must exist if one has to file an RTI, without which no information will be given. Information usually exists in public domain and on public records.
Towards the end of the session, he talked about the recent Supreme Court verdict and how it affects the legitimacy of the RTI Act. He said that unless we, Indian citizens, protest the RTI Act and RTI as a consumer empowerment tool is in danger of becoming redundant or even irrelevant.
Mr Gandhi will conduct two more workshops for Moneylife Foundation members in December, the first is for beginners an the second for regular RTI users. For those who have missed this session and would like to enroll for future sessions, check this page or call us. Besides, you can access videos of past Moneylife Foundation events on our Moneylife TV channel on YouTube over here
If you’d like to empower yourself, do join Moneylife Foundation for free. It costs nothing and you will be part of one of the fastest growing communities in India. Click here to join Moneylife Foundation and get a free ebook, if you haven’t already. 
Details of all other events can be found over here


Sahara moves SAT against market regulator SEBI

Sahara India Real Estate Corp and Sahara Housing Investment Corp are seeking more time from SAT to submit documents to SEBI related to about three crore investors

New Delhi: Sahara Group on Monday moved the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) against market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), seeking more time to submit documents related to about three crore investors in the case involving two group companies, reports PTI.


Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL) have approached the tribunal.


The two entities have been directed by the Supreme Court to refund to their bondholders Rs24,000 crore along with interest of 15% per annum for violating norms in raising funds from public.


The companies have moved the tribunal asking it to direct SEBI to allow them time till 31st January to submit necessary documents related to the case. The ten-day deadline set by the Supreme Court, in its order dated 31st August, for the two entities to submit details of the concerned investors, has already expired.


In a public notice last month, SEBI had said that the two companies have not submitted the relevant documents to it and had also advised investors against yielding to any pressure from "Saharas or their agents" for switching over their investments in SIRECL and SHICL to other group companies.


Meanwhile, SEBI has decided to seek help from public sector banks and KYC Registration Agencies (KRAs) for carrying out 'in-person verification' of about three crore investors related to the case.


SEBI is already in the process of hiring outside investigating agencies to assist it in the matter involving two Sahara group companies.



Vaibhav Dhoka

5 years ago

How can SAHARA appeal against SEBI when original order is passed by Supreme court? Or it is a way devised fool public.

Katju demands action against Mumbai police

The Press Council chief has warned legal consequences to Maharashtra chief minister if he fails to act

New Delhi: Markandey Katju, chief of the Press Council of India (PCI) on Monday demanded 'immediate' action against police personnel for reportedly arresting a woman in Mumbai protesting the shutdown in the city on social networking site Facebook following the demise of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray , reports PTI.


In an e-mail to the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, he warned of "legal consequences" if the CM failed to act.


"I will deem it that you as CM are unable to run the state in a democratic manner as envisaged by the Constitution to which you have taken oath and then legal consequences will follow," Katju said.


He demanded that the Chavan immediately order suspension, arrest, chargesheeting and criminal prosecution of the police personnel responsible for arresting the women allegedly on the ground of hurting sentiments.


"To my mind it is absurd to say that protesting against the bandh hurts religious sentiments. Under Article 19 of our Constitution, freedom of speech is guaranteed fundamental right. We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship.


"In fact, this arrest itself appears to be a criminal act since under sections 341 and 342, it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime," he said.


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