There is no provision in the RTI Act which restrains the citizen’s right to use it if another route to access information has been offered, ruled the CIC. This is the 34th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC) while issuing a show-cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) for not providing information within 30 days, said, that it is a citizen’s right to use the most convenient and efficacious means available to him. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner said if the complainant has more than one way of seeking remedy he has the freedom to opt for the way which is more convenient for him.
“The existence of another method of accessing information cannot be a justification to deny the citizen his freedom to exercise his fundamental right codified under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. If Parliament wanted to restrict this right, it would have been stated expressly in the Act. Nobody else has the right to constrain or limit the rights of the Sovereign Citizen,” the CIC said in its order issued on 14 July 2009.
Delhi resident Dharmender Kumar Garg, on 28 May 2009, sought information from the Registrar of Companies (RoC) about Bloom Financial Services. He sought information through following queries...
1. Who are the directors of this company? Please provide their names, addresses, dates of appointment and copies of consent filed at RoC.
2. After incorporation of above company, how many times directors were changed? Please provide the details of documents files and copies of Form 32 filed at ROC.
3. Please provide the copies of Annual Returns filed at RoC since incorporation to 1998.
4. On what ground prosecution has been filed please provide the details of prosecution and persons included for prosecution. Please provide the copies of Order Sheets and related documents.
5. On what ground the name of Dharmender Kumar Garg has been included for prosecution?
6. Please provide the copies of Form no.5 and other documents filed for increase of capital?
7. How much fee was paid for increase of capital of the above company? Please provide the details of payment of fee at RoC.
8. Please provide the copies of Statutory Report and SLP filed at RoC.
There was no mention of any replies either from the PIO or the First Appellate Authority (FAA). Mr Garg then filed his second appeal before the Commission.
During a hearing on 1 July 2009, the PIO stated that the information is available under Section 610 of the Companies Act on payment of the prescribed fee. The PIO also relied on the department circular of the ministry of company affairs dated 24 January 2006, a decision of the Commission CIC/MA/A/2006/00016 dated 29 March 2006 and CIC/AT/A/2007/00112 dated 12 April 2007 (particularly paras 8, 12 and 13).
Mr Garg stated that, “...their (RoC) website was inspected on 6 May 2009 on payment of Rs50 but no information was available. Thereafter after getting the reply under RTI, I went to the Manesar office (Gurgaon) and inspected the file. It was mentioned in the file that past records had been weeded out. Only three four documents were available. I took the copies on payment of more than Rs1,200 even then the information could not be collected from the record. The files are totally incomplete.”
Mr Garg's contention was that prosecution has been launched against him in spite of the fact that the records are not up-to-date.
The PIO contented that since they offered inspection under Section 610 of the Companies Act on payment of the prescribed fee, they need not give information under the RTI Act.
The Commission then reserved its decision.
During another hearing on 14 July 2009, the PIO submitted his arguments for denying the information. He said, once the information is available in the public domain accessible to the citizens, the information is automatically excluded from purview of the RTI Act as held by Information Commissioner AN Tiwari in the case of CIC/AT/A/2007/00112.
“Section 610 of the Companies Act, 1956, provides that any person may inspect any document kept by ROC and obtain copy of any document from the ROC concerned on payment of prescribed fee. Therefore, the complainant need not seek information under RTI Act. This was held by Information Commissioner MM Ansari in the case of CIC/MA/A/2006/0016,” the PIO stated.
The Commission, while interpreting Section 2(j) of the RTI Act had said that “…unless an information is exclusively held and controlled by a public authority that information cannot be said to be an information accessible under the RTI Act. Inferentially it would mean that once a certain information is placed in the public domain accessible to the citizens either freely or on payment of a pre-determined price that information cannot be said to be ‘held’ or ‘under the control of the public authority’ and thus would cease to be an information accessible under the RTI Act…”
Mr Gandhi said he begged to differ from this decision. He said, even if the information is in public domain, an applicant can still ask a public authority to grant him the information if it is held by it. Even if some information is available at various places, it is the citizen'’s choice from where he wishes to access it.
“The Commission would like to clarify that Section 2 of the RTI Act is the definitional provision and therefore Section 2(j) is not an exemption clause under RTI Act. It merely defines the ‘right to information’. So the exemption from disclosing the information cannot be sought under Section 2(j),” Mr Gandhi said.
The Commission noted that the information asked for is very basic information and records related to this particular information are missing. “This information is very important for the complainant as he is facing a threat of arrest and needs the information to prove his innocence. Not granting such information clearly leads to violation of the fundamental right of the complainant as provided under Article 21 of the Constitution,” it observed.
The PIO's second argument was the information should be sought only under Section 610 of the Companies Act. In his order (CIC/MA/A/2006/0016) Commissioner Ansari while upholding FAA’s order stated that “There is already a provision for seeking information under Section 610 of The Companies Act, 1956. The complainant may accordingly approach the RoC as advised by the Appellate Authority to obtain the relevant information.”
Mr Gandhi said the PIO have not made any claim for exemption under the RTI Act to deny the information. “If a Public Authority has a procedure of disclosing certain information which can also be accessed by a citizen using the Right to Information Act, it is the citizen’s prerogative to decide which route he wishes to take,” the CIC said.
“It appears to the Commission that information is being denied to the complainant without any valid grounds and this delay is causing mental agony to the complainant who is living under the constant fear of arrest,” Mr Gandhi noted.
While allowing the appeal, he then directed the PIO to provide complete information before 25 July 2009.
The Commission also held the PIO responsible for not supplying the complete, required information within 30 days as required under sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the RTI Act. The CIC then issued a show-cause notice to the PIO.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702/4128
Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702
Complainant : Dharmender Kumar Garg,
New Delhi - 110003
Respondent : Raj Kumar Sah
Registrar of Companies & CAPIO
NCT Delhi and Haryana,
4th Floor, IFCI Tower,
Nehru Place, New Delhi - 110003
As suggested yesterday, the Nifty tried to bounce back from the 5955 area. If the benchmark heads higher, it may hit 6,000. However, the trend remains down for now
The market closed lower for the fourth day in succession on weak global cues and selling pressure heavyweights. As suggested yesterday, the Nifty tried to bounce back from the 5955 area. If the benchmark heads higher, it may hit 6,000. However, the trend remains down for now. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 65.72 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 440:1076.
The Indian market opened weak tracking subdued global cues. Markets in Asia were in the red in morning trade on a dip in US factory orders and fresh concerns from Europe. US markets closed around 1% lower as ratings agencies cut ratings for Chevron and Wal-Mart Stores and lower-than-expected macro-economic indicators.
Back home, the Nifty opened 39 points lower at 5,948 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,666, down 85 points from its previous close. Selling in realty and metal stocks kept the market lower in early trade.
Across-the-board selling in late morning trade pushed the Nifty to its lows in noon trade with the index falling to 5,947. A mixed opening of the key European indices due to political uncertainty in Spain and Italy also weighed on domestic sentiments. The Sensex fell to its low in the post-noon session with the benchmark at 19,632.
The benchmarks closed off the lows but were down for the fourth day in a row. The Nifty closed 30 points (0.51%) lower at 5,957 and the Sensex declined 91 points (0.46%) to end the session at 19,660.
The broader indices continued to underperform the Sensex. The BSE Mid-cap index decline 0.66% and the BSE Small-cap index dropped 1.01%.
With the exception of the BSE Healthcare index (up 0.86%), all others settled lower. The top losers were BSE Consumer Durables (down 1.57%); BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 1.03%); BSE Power (down 0.75%); BSE Metal (down 0.74%) and BSE Oil & Gas (down 0.65%).
Eleven of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (up 4.06%); GAIL India (up 1.64%); Bajaj Auto (up 1.49%); Cipla (up 1.18%) and State Bank of India (up 0.57%). The main losers were BHEL (down 3.19%); Bharti Airtel (down 1.93%); Sterlite Industries (down 1.73%); Tata Motors (down 1.64%) and ITC (down 1.58%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Berger Paints (up 4.23%) and Sun Pharma (up 4.06%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Jubilant Foodworks (down 8.24%) and Opto Circuits (down 6.77%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—La Opal RG (up 20%) and Jayaswal Neco Industries (up 19.64%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Camphor & Allied Products (down 15.42%) and Mahavir Impex (down 14.71%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 22 stocks settled in the positive. The major gainers were Sun Pharma (up 3.70%); Ambuja Cement (up 3.05%); ACC (up 2%); UltraTech Cement Company (up 1.56%) and GAIL (up 1.52%).
Markets in Asia, with the exception of the Shanghai Composite, settled lower on fresh concerns from Europe. The Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy faces corruption charges and uncertainty of the outcome of the elections in Italy weighed on investors.
The Hang Seng tumbled 2.27%; the Jakarta Composite fell 0.25%; the KLSE Composite shed 0.07%; the Nikkei 225 tanked 1.90%; the Straits Times declined 0.75%; the Seoul Composite dropped 0.77% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.46%. Bucking the trend, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.20%.
At the time of writing, the key European indices recovered from their early hiccups and were in the green and the US stock futures were in the positive.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyer of equities amounting to Rs856.94 crore on Monday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of stocks totalling Rs592.32 crore.
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today cleared global liquor giant Diageo Plc move to launch an open offer to acquire 26% stake from public shareholders of United Sprits. As part of the deal for purchase of 53.4% stake in the Vijay Mallya-led UB group firm, Diageo has made a Rs5,441-crore open offer for purchase of 26% stake in the company from non-promoter shareholders. United Spirits advanced 1.82% to close at Rs1,892 on the NSE.
Mirc Electronics, owner of the consumer durable and electronics brand Onida, is planning to set up a greenfield manufacturing facility in Maharashtra to manufacture air conditioners at an investment of around Rs400 crore. The proposed facility will be the fourth facility for the company in India. The stock declined 2.05% to close at Rs9.55 on the NSE.
Exide Industries has signed a new agreement with Japan’s Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Company to implement new manufacturing processes for automotive batteries. Under the Technical Licence and Assistance Agreement, Shin-Kobe will provide “extensive technical support” for manufacturing of automotive batteries at Exide’s plants across the country. The stock gained 0.74% to close at Rs122.40 on the NSE.
The company that is known for Dominos Pizza has posted yet another strong quarter with good sales and profit numbers. Yet, the stock price is quoting at premium valuations. Is it worth it?
We had written about Jubilant Foodworks in our Moneylife issue dated 19 April 2012 (http://www.moneylife.in/article/jubilant-foodworks-good-spread/25344.html). The company, which has the rights to use the Dominos brand name in India, has reported 39% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in net sales for the quarter ended December 2012. It reported net sales of Rs385.15 crore when compared to Rs277.05 crore for the corresponding period last year. Its net profit, likewise, jumped 27.9% y-o-y to Rs37.70 crore for the reporting quarter. The good results were attributed to cost efficiencies, continued preference as well as a reflection of changing tastes in Indian consumers, with increased preference for westernised fast foods.
A deeper insight into the Moneylife database reveals something more about Jubilant Foodworks. This is not a one-off quarter but it has been piecing together one consistent quarter after another. Its net sales has been very strong, with its three-quarter y-o-y growth rate at 42%. Even the operating profits were steadily in double-digit territory and did not show a single decline since we started tracking the company. Its three-quarter y-o-y growth rate at 35% while December 2012 quarter, operating profit grew 30%. However, there’s one catch—according to our database, the company is pricey, with its market capitalisation quoting at near 30 times its operating profit. This means the market expects the company to rapidly expand and open more new stores. Likewise, its return on networth is an astounding 62%.
During the quarter, the company opened 37 new stores and the total stores stood at 552 at the end of December 2012, higher than the 439 stores it was at the end of 2011. Now it is present in 118 cities and expanded to tier-II and tier-III towns such as Guntur, Navsari, Ankleshwar, Ambala and Tumur, to name a few. Same store sales growth during the December 2012 quarter was 16.1%. Same store measures how stores are doing excluding new stores to enable comparisons. Since the launch of its online ordering system, its delivery to sale was an impressive 14.6% while telephonic ordering was steady growing at 10.2%.
It has also launched new pizza products, including the Cheesy Boloroni Pizza, which is a mix of veg bolognese sauce and macaroni, as well as Taco Indiana, a sidedish blending Mexican and Indian flavours. Apart from selling pizzas, it has now started venturing into doughnuts. It has licensed the Dunkin’ Donuts brand and has launched eight stores as of 10 January. The company plans to roll-out 80-100 Dunkin’ Donuts stores in India.
The company has a 62% market share in the organised pizza market and 70% share in the pizza home delivery segment.
Commenting on the good results, Ajay Kaul, CEO, said, “I am pleased to announce that Q3 has been a promising quarter where we delivered sustained progress. It continues to be a period of action, relentless focus and strong execution. The business objectives pursued were to diversify the product range and above all to win new markets for both our brands.
The price of Jubilant Foodworks on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was Rs1,040.75. The price has crashed since we had written about it last year but the market is still giving it premium valuations (http://www.moneylife.in/article/jubilant-foodworks-good-spread/25344.html). We had suggested that Rs900 would be an ideal price.