Narayan Varma addresses fourth Moneylife Foundation seminar on the Right to Information Act, saying people must build pressure so public authorities voluntarily disseminate imformation
Narayan Varma, chartered accountant and a consultant on several official committees for the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act, today said that "talks are going on at the Centre on expanding the scope of Section 4 of the RTI Act and its proper implementation."
Mr Varma was speaking at a seminar organised by Moneylife Foundation. He is a member of various government committees and civil society organisations dealing with the effective implementation of RTI.
He focused on Section 4 of the Act which primarily involves suo moto disclosure of information by public authorities. According to this section all records should be maintained and indexed properly in a way that facilitates easy access to information, gives citizens the right to inspect files physically without filing an application, and it states that public authorities should also voluntarily disseminate as much information as possible to the public through various domains and raise awareness through workshops and seminars.
"Unfortunately, the government has failed to provide guidelines to the public authorities on suo moto dissemination of information, neither do the bureaucrats have the political will to implement Section 4," Mr Varma said. "But we as citizens and activists must prevail upon them to change their attitude."
Replying to participants question about the rules and fees that are applicable to different public authorities for seeking information, Mr Varma said, "Though the RTI Act is the overarching legislation in this matter, there are individual laws formulated by states and public authorities like the courts. The norms and fees are also subject to such rules."
Mr Varma described several success stories of information seekers. He spoke about a man who was entitled to a substantial compensation from the government through estate duty, which was abolished more than 50 years ago. Mr Varma and his associates not only helped the man claim his inheritance, but they also helped the concerned government department to re-construct the lost documents on the basis of the documents that the man had with him.
"The other difficult thing to establish is who is a public authority," he said. "When the definition of public authority says that it has to be 'substantially funded' by the government, it opens the ground to debate. But we have got information in many cases by establishing that the institution concerned is a 'public authority'."
He talked about how activists had compelled some government-aided hospitals to put up information on their websites about the number of free beds reserved for the poor.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of public authorities who do not favour voluntary dissemination of information," Mr Varma said. "They think it is a nuisance. But that mindset has to change. And we must create pressure to that effect."
Pranab Mukherjee reiterates that Centre will not overshoot its borrowing target of Rs4.17 lakh crore for the current year
New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the government will not overshoot its market borrowing target for this financial year, leaving enough credit available for the private sector.
"I am not going to expand borrowing and I will plan my borrowing in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India in a manner to ensure that the private sector is not elbowed out of the borrowing market," Mr Mukherjee told journalists after a board meeting of Nabard.
The government plans to borrow Rs4.17 lakh crore from the market this year, compared with Rs4.47 lakh crore last year, reports PTI.
Of this, the government is expected to borrow 60%, or Rs2.5 lakh crore, in the April-September period. With less scheduled government borrowing in the second half of the fiscal, sufficient credit would remain available for the private sector to borrow from market.
The net market borrowings, after making re-payments, would total Rs3.43 lakh crore in the current fiscal.
Mr Mukherjee also appeared confident that the government would be able to meet the revenue collection targets for the current fiscal. "I am not worried on the revenue front because there is revenue buoyancy and it is moving on expected lines," he said.
He said the government faced a "temporary cash flow problem" because of much higher tax refunds. "Instead of deferring the refund for the next two-three months, we made it upfront. But that does not alter the net kitty which will be available to me by the end of the year," he said.
The government expects gross tax revenues of Rs9.32 lakh crore this fiscal. As per the latest data available on the direct tax front, the gross collection in the April-June quarter was up by 23.91% at Rs1,04,136 crore.
Direct tax refunds recorded a 205.01% increase at Rs46,868 crore in the first quarter of 2011-12 as against Rs15,366 crore in the year-ago period.
Vedanta now has a 28.5% stake in Cairn India, while Cairn remains majority shareholder with 52.2% shareholding
UK-listed Cairn Energy today said it has completed the sale of a 10% stake in its Indian entity, Cairn India, to Vedanta Resources for $1.36 billion.
"Cairn has completed the sale of 191,920,207 Cairn India shares to Vedanta, representing 10% of the fully diluted share capital of Cairn India, for net proceeds of around $1,362 million in cash," the Edinburgh-based firm said in a regulatory filing, the Press Trust of India reported from London.
Following completion of the sale, Vedanta Group now holds an aggregate 28.5% stake in Cairn India, while Cairn still remains the majority shareholder of Cairn India with a 52.2% shareholding.
"The sale and purchase of a further 30% of the fully diluted share capital of Cairn India remains subject to the necessary consents and approvals from the government of India," Cairn Energy said.