Right to Information
Public Interest Exclusive
Now, J&K governor says he does not come under RTI

In 2011, governor of Goa tried to dodge RTI queries by stating that he does not come under RTI. Now, the J&K governor’s secretariat has denied information stating that the office of the governor is a ‘privileged’ one

: In January 2011, Goa-based RTI (Right to Information) activist, Aries Rodrigues, demanded information under the RTI Act regarding president Pratibha Patil’s controversial four-day visit to Goa which was declared as a “private visit” via a press release issued by the governor’s office in Goa. Mr Rodrigues was denied information stating that the Goa governor’s office does not come under the purview of the RTI Act. K Sankaranarayanan was the governor of Maharashtra and holding  additional charge of Goa at that time.


Therefore, Mr Rodrigues demanded the same information from the office of the governor of Maharashtra where Mr Sankaranarayanan was the governor. He was given the information, which confirmed that the president was indeed on an official visit to Goa and not on a private one as claimed by the Goa governor’s office, for which the Goa government spent Rs14.81 lakh from taxpayers’ money.


Thereafter, Mr Rodrigues also sought legal intervention against Goa governor’s denial of being public authority under RTI. On 14 November 2011, the Bombay High Court at Goa ruled that the governor of Goa is a public authority and comes within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The high court held that the governor enjoyed no immunity from the RTI Act and the public information officer (PIO) at the Goa Raj Bhavan is duty bound to furnish information sought under the Act.


Fast Forward: On 6 February 2013, Jammu-based journalist and RTI activist, Raman Sharma filed a RTI at the governor of Jammu & Kashmir’s (J&K) secretariat seeking information on the number of individuals who had visited governor NN Vohra between January 2010 and February 2013 and appointments sought by citizens and rejected by the governor’s office. Public Information Officer, OP Bhagat of the governor’s secretariat who replied on 27th February, denied information stating that the office of the governor is a ‘privileged’ one.

His reply reads: “…in this context, it is to inform you that the office of Governor is the privileged one and thus this information pertaining to delegation/ information about criteria adopted for seeking appointments cannot be made public under Section 8 of the RTI Act 2009. If you are not satisfied with the reply, you may appeal to FAA of the Governor’s Secretariat.”


This reply was a sequel to Sharma’s RTI application, which had a series of questions and read as follows:

“Provide me following details and Information under the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009.

INFORMATION SOUGHT (period 01/Jan/2010 to till date of both offices, Jammu/Srinagar):


  • Total number of individuals/delegations who visited and met the governor during the period 1 January 2010 to till date in Jammu/Srinagar
  • Total number of memorandum/representations received by the Raj Bhavan or governor in person during the period 1 January 2010 to till date.
  • Also intimate the procedure to seek appointment of meeting with the governor.
  • Total number of requests seeking appointment of meeting with the governor that were received in all by the 1 January 2010 to till date
  • Total number of requests seeking appointment with the governor that were rejected by the Raj Bhavn during the period 1 January 2010 to till date
  • Total number of requests seeking appointment with the Governor that were accepted an allowed by the Raj Bhavan during the period 1 January 2010 till date. Also intimate the procedure adopted by the Raj Bhavan in allowing appointment to individuals/delegations
  • Name the officer/officials of the Raj Bhavan who allow or reject request of appointment with full name and designation
  • Total number of requests received by fax for appointment accepted/rejected by the Raj Bhavan during the period 1 January 2010 to till date
  • Procedure adopted by the Raj Bhavan to inform the appointment seeker where the appointment permission is granted/allowed. By which mode he/she/they were informed, telephone, Post, Telegraph or any other means
  • Procedure adopted by the Raj Bhavan to inform the appointment seeker where appointment permission is not granted or rejected, whether the appointment seeker is informed about the rejection, if yes by which mode,telephone, post, or any other means
  • Whether any preference for appointment is given to any individual/delegation. If yes, to whom and under what rules. Whether all appointment requests are presented before the governor before deciding to accept or reject the appointment request.


Having been denied information by the PIO, Sharma then filed his first appeal on 18th March, with the First Appellate Authority, the principal secretary to the governor. Sharma states in the appeal, “Sir, the argument given by the respondent is neither justifiable nor hold any legal weight as in his rejection order. The respondent had
cited Section 8 of the J&K RTI Act, 2009, for not sharing the information to the applicant and claimed that office of governor is privileged one.”


“Sir, though there is no denial that the office of Governor is one of the “Highest Constitutional Office” in any state including J&K, but as per the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009, it is not specifically mentioned that office of governor is exempted from providing any sort of information. Hence the reason of ‘privilege’ cannot be claimed here while dealing an RTI application.”

“Moreover, nowhere in the Section 8 cited by the PIO, it is mentioned that information related to delegations/ individuals meeting with the governor can be denied to an information seeker.”

“Sir, the information sought by the information seeker is purely in larger public interest and would promote transparency and accountability of the Public Authority, which is well defined in the preamble of the J & K RTI Act, 2009. The preamble of the RTI act states that ‘The Constitution of India has established democratic republic and
whereas democracy requires informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold government and its instrumentalities accountable to the governed’.”

“Sir, the applicant also wishes to submit it for your kind information that almost everyday the State Information and Publicity Department issues press notes and photographs showing the Governor with the visiting individuals/ NGO/ dignitaries/ senior bureaucrats/ politicians/ educationists/ artists and other, the news and stories are often being published regarding the delegations meet with the governor. Hence the sought information is itself made public by the Raj Bhavan therefore the claim of ‘privilege’ holds no logic and justification therefore the present applicant cannot be denied the sought information.”

Prayer: Keeping the above factual submissions of the applicant into your kind consideration the respondent may be asked to release the sought information without any further delay.’”

Raman Sharma should have also quoted the Goa governor example and the high court judgment.


For Goa governor related stories, see RTI Act: Same Governor comes under it in Maharashtra, but not in Goa and Goa Governor eats humble pie; High Court says he also comes under RTI Act


(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”.)



Vinay Joshi

4 years ago

Dear Ms. Vinita,

Instead of such frivolous RTI applications, [absolutely imp in a sense, past it is] the efforts & resources, money to be applied to direct fleecing of the customers.

Day light robbery. Instead of taxpayers money talk of 'daily fleecing' of the taxpayers, short changed, in all services.

Public awareness comes only when short changed.

By June 30,2013, entire TV/Satelite broadcast, in India will compulsorily be under CAS, [conditional access system.]
Compulsory 'set top boxes' - STB's only from the respective service provider[s] be it DTH.

No value for money to the esteem consumer, ads bombardment on TV.
[now even the elite having HDD can't escape it.]

The consumer, her rights are predominant, cable TV is mode of relaxation for many.

Of what use is following RTI in unrelated areas?

OK, get information under RTI [to certain extent it's there.]
about 'Gosikhurd Dam', in Bhandara Dist; Nagpur.

Further more will it enable to get to the bottom of the scam.

The Dammed Project : The 'Gosikhurd' Dam.

Start - 1982. - Status -- 'STALLED'

Initial cost [in '82] 372Cr.

Present cost [2012]7,777Cr.

Funds required to complete - 13KCr.

Expenditure [2013] 6KCr.

Planned Irrigation 2.5L Ha.

Irrigation to date [2013]34K, Ha. [amount spend 6KCr.]

Why drought in Bhandara & in the state? 70K+Cr irrigation spend.

Yet the district administrations follow 'anewari' system of the British Raj to designate the crop yield.

WHERE IS YOUR RTI? 70KCr down the drain instead of frivolous Goa & J&K!

Again repeating - STB fleecing.

I've always appreciated your efforts much more in PP/PSK & sooner there should be info display of the follow;

1] application no/ dt

2] said dtd. application acceptance dt.

3] appl. appointment dt display & communication.

4] dt of communication of deficiency, if any. & pre-verification.

5] under PPP the TCS has to reveal the 'outsourcing'& MEA is bound to, else it amounts to compromise of the right of the 'citizens - the pp appliancants' to ensure the data is not compromised.

OK! the earlier Prez spend 15L,
they are down the drain.

Why not ensure PP/PSK is set an example for MEA & that STB's will not fleece the consumers.


P.S. - Last week in Kalyan [dist Thane] the resident MLA having stakes in cable [TV-Chnl] distribution thrashed the c/operator in the neighbourhood for selling STB's at lower price! FYI.

Ubaldo C DSouza

4 years ago

These claimm to be "first among equals"! If they had nothing to hide, they would lead by example and not hide behind "skirts of privilege".

Surendera Bhanot

4 years ago

This is the political mindset as has been created by the congress over the past sixty years. Every politician now thinks he is above the law and is amune from every action.

The situation is very pathetic. Now the J&K High Court set the things in right prespective.



In Reply to Surendera Bhanot 4 years ago

100% correct, the mindset has to change

Babubhai Vaghela

In Reply to CA PRADEEP AGARWAL 4 years ago

Need to Appeal to President of India to Kick Out such Governors. That is the need of the hour.

SEBI bars Zenith Infotech promoters from stock market

SEBI while asking the Sarafs of Zenith Infotech to provide a bank guarantee of $34 million, said the promoters and directors of the company have in a devious manner attempted to take away assets of a listed company, directly and indirectly, for their own benefit causing loss to shareholders

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has barred Rajkumar Saraf, Akash Kumar Saraf, Devita Saraf, Vijayrani Saraf, VU Technologies Pvt Ltd and Zenith Technologies Pvt Ltd from the securities market till further directions. In addition, the market regulator asked the board of directors of Zenith Infotech to furnish within 30 days a bank guarantee of $33.93 million valid for one year.


SEBI said its examination “prima facie'” shows that promoters and directors of Zenith Infotech have in a devious manner attempted to take away the assets of a listed company directly and indirectly for their own benefit or for benefit of entities owned and controlled by them, thereby causing loss to shareholders.


Here are the observations made by SEBI...


1. Zenith Infotech had raised $33 & $50 million by issuing ‘FCCBs’ which were due for redemption in September 2011 and August 2012, respectively. 


2. Zenith Infotech in its EGM held on 29 January 2011 took approval from its shareholders to sell its assets for repayment/redemption of FCCBs due for maturity. 


3. On 26 September 2011, Zenith Infotech announced to the exchanges that it has sold one of its division, managed services division or MSD, to Zenith RMM LLC.


4. It was observed that the substantial portion of sale proceeds of MSD Division of Zenith Infotech was diverted for the benefits/interests of promoters and/or directors and subsidiaries, which was not remotely connected to the authorization of the shareholders.


5. Further, it was observed that the Zenith Infotech and its promoters/directors not only disregarded shareholders’ resolution but also adopted fraudulent device and artifice to defraud the shareholders by concealing and misrepresenting information to the exchanges.


6. The aforesaid apparent asset stripping of Zenith Infotech for the purpose of benefitting the interests of its  promoters /directors and related entities led to the following consequences:


a. Shareholders/investors have lost considerable value as a result of sharp price fall in the scrip of Zenith Infotech from approximately Rs190 on 23 September 2011 to approximately Rs45 on 30 November 2011 i.e. a fall of approximately 75% in just 45 trading days. The price of the scrip has further gone down to Rs19 as on 7 March 2013.  


b. The shareholders’ value has eroded because of the misconduct of the promoters/directors.


c. The company is still fastened with the liability to pay back the FCCB holders on account of redemption thereof. This will further have a financial burden on shareholders' wealth in Zenith Infotech.


In 2006, Zenith Infotech, run by Akash Saraf as managing director and chief executive, issued foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) worth $33 million at a conversion price of Rs310 per share due in September 2011. Next year, the company again issued FCCBs worth $50 million at a conversion price of Rs522 per share and due to mature in August 2012. The first tranche of $33 million came up for repayment as Zenith's share price at that time was below the conversion price on the maturity date.


However, in a regulatory filing, the company admitted that it has defaulted on its $33 million FCCB and was in negotiations with the bondholders to extend time for repayment. Since there was a default in payment of the first tranche, it triggered a cross default provision under which the second tranche also was considered defaulted. This made the total defaults of around $83 million.


Creditors, including hedge funds, said that Zenith Infotech owes them more than $90 million or about Rs450 crore. “We tried contacting both, Akash and Raj Saraf but could not get any satisfactory answers from them. In fact, we found out that at the time of the maturity of first tranche, the company had shown Rs150 crore as cash in its balance sheet,” said one representative of the creditors, who did not want to be identified.


He said, “Despite having the cash, Zenith Infotech has not paid our dues at that time. Later on 26 September 2011, it decided to sell one of its two divisions, called managed services division (MSD) through a newly incorporated vehicle Zenith RMM LLC in Delaware to US-based private equity fund Summit Partners via an asset purchase agreement.”


Following the court orders, it was discovered that Zenith received $54 million or about Rs250 crore in cash for selling 85% of its MSD business and would also retain 15% ownership in Zenith RMM with Summit Partners holding the rest. Zenith UAE, which received $27 million or about Rs133 crore from the deal is a very small entity.


In an affidavit filed before the court, Zenith also revealed that it transferred about $15 million from the proceeds to Vu Technologies, a company run by Devita Saraf, the daughter of Raj Saraf and sister of Akash Saraf. However, till date Zenith failed to explain what happened to the Rs150 crore it showed on its balance sheet and why it did not cleared its dues or repaid money to FCCB holders.




4 years ago

This is a fraud on the shareholders committed by the directors of the Company. Directors can be prosecuted for misappropriating the assets of the Company for personal gains. Apart from SEBI, it is the duty of MCA to initiate some action in the matter.

DGCA deregisters 15 Kingfisher aircraft on appeal from leasing companies

Airport operators, particularly the Airports Authority of India, had seized several aircraft of the Vijay Mallya-owned carrier and decided not to release them till Kingfisher clears their dues

The Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) today said it has deregistered 15 aircraft of Kingfisher Airlines to enable global leasing companies to take them back on grounds of default on their lease rentals by the grounded carrier.
This was announced here by the Director General Civil Aviation, Arun Mishra, who said he would soon discuss the issues concerning Kingfisher’s dues to tax authorities, airport operators and other vendors.
The airport operators, particularly the Airports Authority of India, had seized several aircraft of the liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned carrier and decided not to release them till Kingfisher clears their dues.
However, some leasing companies including German aviation bank DVB moved the Delhi High Court which ordered that the lessors had a right over these aircraft.
Following the decision, aircraft lessor International Lease Finance Corporation said it had successfully removed one of six Kingfisher aircraft—an Airbus A-321, stranded in India.
A demand for deregistration of two more Kingfisher planes was made by DVB at a meeting with aviation regulator DGCA yesterday.
The two planes had been sent to Turkey for repairs and maintenance where DVB seized them.
However, unless the planes were deregistered in the lessor country, the German Bank cannot reclaim them and lease or sell them to other carriers.
Kingfisher has ten planes of its own and another 15 leased ones which are yet to be deregistered, AAI chairman V P Aggarwal said on the sidelines of a CII function on aviation.
The dispute over Kingfisher’s leased planes is seen as a major test of the Cape Town convention, a global treaty to standardise transactions involving moveable property like aircraft, including contracts of sale and leases.
It provides legal remedies for default in financing agreements, including repossession and the effect of bankruptcy laws.


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