The decision comes following the appeal by the Delta Airlines and the Airline Pilots Association of a lower court decision in July 2012 that determined that the Exim Bank improperly approved financing for purchases of certain Boeing aircraft by Air India
A US court has rejected a plea by the Delta Airlines to vacate the US Export-Import Bank’s support for the sale of 30 Boeing wide-body jets to Air India.
At the same time, the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC asked the Exim Bank to further explain its financing decision for the Air India transactions.
However, it chose to leave undisturbed the bank’s financing of the Air India transaction and did not question the bank’s flexibility in carrying out its statutory mandate.
The decision comes following the appeal by the Delta Airlines and the Airline Pilots Association of a lower court decision in July 2012 that determined that the Exim Bank improperly approved financing for purchases of certain Boeing aircraft by Air India.
In its lawsuit, Delta Airlines had alleged that Exim failed to consider the economic impact of its loan guarantees for the purchase of wide-bodied Boeing aircraft by Air India.
It alleged that Exim Bank’s decision to provide a loan guarantee of $3.4 billion to Air India, to help it buy 30 aircraft from Boeing, would badly affect several US airlines, especially the Atlantic-based carrier, Delta.
"I am gratified by the court’s recognition that these transactions should not be impeded by litigation. The bank maintains significant flexibility in complying with its statutory mandates and its effort to support American jobs.” said Fred P Hochberg, chairman and president of Exim Bank.
“This represents a victory for tens of thousands of American aerospace workers,” he said.
Maharashtra government is all set to strangulate the RTI Act with its proposed procedure rules for filing second appeal before the Information Commission. Just for example, the rules ask the appellant to file an affidavit that the case relating to information sought for, has not been filed previously or pending with any court or authority
When the draft rules for second appeal procedure to the Information Commission were framed and were doing the rounds early this January, Pune-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar got a whiff of it and warned about the suspicious motives of the Maharashtra government to kill the RTI Act. In 2012, it had gone ahead with stealthily changing the rules to file a RTI application under Section 6. This time it is far worse and dangerous and hence RTI activists have decided to come out strongly against them, before the state government again clandestinely implements them.
Steered by RTI activist Krishnraj Rao, four prominent RTI activists analysed the contents of the newly worded second appeal rules and with signatures of prominent activists, sent a strong letter to chief minister Prithivaj Chavan on 14th June expressing serious concern and urging him to undo the rules or face protest on the streets.
The need for framing appeal procedure rules is the direct effect of the Namit Sharma judgment, which has directed state governments to do so within six months, says Vijay Kumbhar. Thus, Maharashtra instead of making it citizen-friendly has made it difficult and has been unfair to citizens.
The most dangerous of them all is that, as per the proposed new procedure rules for filing your second appeal, you would be required to go through the unnecessary pain of fling an affidavit with an additional fee of Rs5 as “declaration that the case relating to information sought for, has not been filed previously/pending with any court/any authority”. Kumbhar states that, “The RTI Act gives liberty to the citizen to ask for information, irrespective of whether he or she is involved in a court case. This will be the last nail in the coffin of RTI in Maharashtra. With this clause, nobody will be eligible to file a RTI application in the state.”
Kumbhar adds, “Most of the people use RTI to obtain information, documents related to their work or status of their work. Thus, people demand information related to their case pending with some authority. If this clause is to be applied then nobody will be eligible to obtain information from any public authority. RTI act does not prevent anybody from obtaining information even if the case is pending before any court. Then why is the Maharashtra government trying to introduce such type of clause?”
Besides, as per the draft rules, the appellant is required to give additional personal details like name of husband/age/profession which is not presently required. All he or she is required is to give his or her own name and address.
Another rule demands that the appellant will not be not allowed to take any person/lawyer with him during the hearing of the second appeal unless the circumstances are “exceptional (which could be interpreted by the information commissioner as per his or her personal judgment).” Activists rue what about an illiterate farmer who has taken the help of an educated person to use the RTI Act or a physically challenged who cannot go on his own? Activists have demanded in their letter that this should be done away with.
Krishnaraj Rao adds, “This places the appellant/ordinary citizen at a psychological disadvantage, as the public authority is usually represented by two or more persons i.e. Public Information Officer, Assistant PIO, First Appellate Authority, and often an advocate also! This provision is discriminatory, and it imposes grave limitations on the right to send (or be accompanied by) an authorized representative. It will surely be abused to prevent RTI activists with good knowledge of the Act from representing some citizens who cannot speak for themselves.”
If these new rules are implemented then the onus is being put on the appellant to send his appeal copy to the respondents as well. Kumbhar questions this rule which states that, “while filing the second appeal one copy of the appeal or petition shall also be directly sent to the concerned Public Information Officer (PIO), First Appellate Authority (FAA) and third party by the appellant.”
Kumbhar argues that, “why is this burden of sending a copy of second appeal being placed on the appellants? As far as public authorities (PAs) in Maharashtra are concerned 95% of the PIO and appellate authorities do not even mention their or appellate authorities name or address in the orders. In addition, how would an appellant know the name and address of the third party, if involved? Even if the appellant knows the names and addresses of all of these, why will PIOs accept or receive a copy of the appeal when they know the consequences of the second appeal?”
Krishnaraj objects to another clause which says that “the notice for hearing will be issued (as far as possible) at least 15 days, before the date of hearing fixed by the Commission.” Presently, there is no time limit. He states, “due to postal delays, it is a common experience that the notice that is issued only 15 days in advance reaches the appellant on the same day or the day after the hearing. For outstation appellants especially, this leaves no time for booking railway tickets and making necessary travel arrangements, and therefore, it sharply reduces the availability of the remedy of the second appeal hearing. (Sometimes, the notice of hearing is back-dated and dispatched only a couple of days before the hearing date.) For those who are doing jobs or pursuing a professional career, this allows no time to make a leave application, etc, and many people fail to appear for the hearing, which is then disposed off ex-parte.”
The letter sent to chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan states that in Rule no 7, “the concerned Public Information Officer (PIO), First Appellate Authority (FAA) and Third Party are required to send a copy of their rejoinder to the State Information Commission, but not to the RTI appellant. This is inequitable and unfair, because as per Rule no. 3, ‘Memorandum of Appeal’, the duty is cast on the appellant to serve a copy of his appeal to the concerned Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority, etc and hence the appellant should be in the loop when the PIO, FAA and Third Party send their rejoinders.
Activists have appealed saying, “Please take such steps to inspire confidence among the community of law-abiding citizens (commonly known as RTI activists), who are using the sunshine law to actively uphold accountability and good governance in the country. Simultaneously, take steps to ensure that the common people, who are using the RTI Act to resolve their own grievances and disputes, are facilitated to do so. In the long run, this will enhance voters’ confidence in your government.”
While the Bihar government has made RTI user friendly by use of telephonic facility and call centre, the so-called progressive Maharashtra government is on the road to secrecy, indirectly.
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)