The PIO of the School neither provided any information nor appeared before the Bench for show cause hearings, forcing the CIC to levy a penalty of Rs25,000. This is the 207th in a series of important RTI judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi
The Central Information Commission (CIC), levied a fine of Rs25,000 on the Public Information Officer (PIO) of SD Hari Mandir Girls Senior Secondary School for refusing to provide information despite orders and failing twice to appear before the Bench for a show cause hearing.
While giving the judgement on 9 August 2010, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, "As per the provisions of Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, the Bench finds this a fit case for levying penalty on Pawan Kumar Bhatia, Manager and PIO. Since the delay in providing the correct information has been over 100 days, the Bench is passing an order penalising Pawan Kumar Bhatia for Rs25,000, which is the maximum penalty under the Act."
New Delhi resident, Vinod Bharti, on 1 August 2009, sought from the PIO information regarding teachers availing special leave. Here is the information the appellant had sought...
1. No. of teachers that had availed special leave (abortion leave) from 1 April 1995 till date (31 July 2009).
2. Certified copies of the relevant papers on basis of which such medical leave was sanctioned by the school authorities to the teachers including medical prescription, ultra sounds & urine report and fitness certificate and any other relevant information/documents etc.
3. Period of special leave of the above mentioned teachers.
There was no immediate response from the PIO. Bharti received reply from the PIO only after filing his first appeal.
In his reply, the PIO stated, "The requested information was of a confidential nature and therefore they were not in a position to furnish the same and that the teachers had also refused to provide their personal details in this regard."
There was no mention of any order passed by the First Appellate Authority (FAA).
Bharti, the appellant then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During the hearing on 10 December 2009, the Bench of Mr Gandhi, observed that the PIO has refused the information without giving any exemption under Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. "However, the Appellant’s asking for certified photocopies of various medical records of the individual teachers was certainly inappropriate," the Bench noted.
While allowing the appeal, Mr Gandhi then directed the PIO to provide information on query-1 & 3 to the Appellant before 26 December 2009 and the list of documents, which were submitted by the teachers to avail of the special/ abortion leave.
However, the PIO did not provide the information in the stipulated time. Bharti, the appellant, then sent a letter to the CIC on 15 January 2010 complaining about non-compliance of the CIC's order by the PIO.
On 4 February 2010, the PIO sent a letter to the CIC, stating that the School had decided to challenge the decision of the Commission in a writ petition.
The CIC, then sent a show cause notice to the PIO. It said, "...you have only moved a Writ Petition, but there is no stay order issued by a Court on the order of the Commission, the order of the Commission remains in force and has to be complied with. Section 19(7) of the RTI Act provides that the decision of the Commission 'shall be binding'."
"Non-compliance of the Commission’s order which is still in force, may lead to initiation of penalty proceedings in accordance with the Right to Information Act, 2005. The Commission is hereby directing you to provide the complete information to the Appellant before 6 March 2010. You are further directed to appear before the Commission on 12 March 2010 along with written submission to show cause why penalty should not be imposed on you under Section 20 (1) and (2) of the RTI Act, 2005," the CIC said.
However, the PIO did not appear before the Bench on 12 March 2010 for the show cause hearing. The Bench, then decided to give one more opportunity to the PIO to present himself along with his written submission on 27 April 2010.
Again, the PIO did not appear before the Bench on 27 April 2010. The Bench, then spoke with Pawan Kumar Bhatia, manager and PIO, who stated that he was unable to come to the Commission without giving any reasons. The appellant, Bharti stated that he still had not received any information from the PIO.
"It is evident that the PIO is determined not to follow the law and the directions of a statutory authority. It appears that the PIO has no reasonable cause to offer for refusing to obey the directions of the Commission for providing the information," Mr Gandhi noted.
He said, "It appears that the PIO does not wish to give any explanation for his defiance of statutory order. He has not sent any written submission nor given any reasons for not appearing before the Commission."
The Bench then directed the PIO to send complete information before 15 May 2010 warning that if the information was not provided then it may consider recommending to the Department of Education to take appropriate action against him.
Mr Gandhi said, "The Bench therefore decides that Pawan Kumar Bhatia, Manager and PIO has no reasonable cause for refusing to give information. Since the delay has been for over 100 days the Bench imposes the maximum penalty of Rs25,000 leviable under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act."
The Bench also directed the chairman of SD Hari Mandir Girls Senior Secondary School to recover Rs25,000 at the rate of Rs5,000 per month from the salary of Bhatia and remit it to the CIC before 10 October 2010.
Even then, the PIO neither provided any information nor the School remitted the penalty amount. The Bench again, gave the PIO an opportunity to appear before it for a show cause hearing on 26 July 2010. The PIO again did not appear before the Bench.
In addition, the CIC received a letter dated 22 July 2010 from Abha Joshi, PIO, deputy director of education, Central District, New Delhi, stating that the respondent school was unable to deduct the penalty sum from the salary of Pawan Kumar Bhatia, PIO/Manager as the post of ‘Manager’ was honorary and no salary/ allowance was being paid to him.
Mr Gandhi then issued a summons on 27 September 2010 asking the PIO/Manager and the Chairman to appear before the Bench for an inquiry. The Chairman was also directed to bring a demand draft for the penalty amount of Rs25,000 on 28 October 2010. The PIO/ Manager was also directed to bring all relevant records on that date.
The school Chairman did not respond to the summons. Even the Manager, who appeared before the Bench stated that he did not consider it necessary to bring the information. When the Bench asked the school principal did not offer any explanation.
Mr Gandhi noted that the Chairman and the Manager of the School appear to be determined to flout instructions given by statutory authorities. He then directed the manager, chairman and Khan Chand, deputy director of education at New Delhi to appear before the Bench along with the records and requisite information and a banker's cheque or demand draft of Rs25,000 for the penalty.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/002597/5818/Adjunct-I
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/002597
Appellant : Vinod Bharti
Respondent : Pawan Kumar Bhatia
Public Information Officer & Manager
SD Hari Mandir Girls Sr. Sec. School
Des Raj Bhatia Marg, Nabi Karim,
New Delhi – 110055
With car sales recording a volume growth of 15% and two-wheelers continuing their upward march with 19% higher sales during August, the beginning of this year's festival season has brought cheers to the Indian auto industry
August 2014 proved to be a splendid month for Indian auto industry, which witnessed strong volumes across all segments, except light commercial vehicles (LCVs). During the month, car sales recorded a volume growth of 15% while two-wheeler continued its upward march with 19% higher sales.
"Volume growth is likely to improve further as economic growth recovers. On a year-on-year (yoy) basis, September will likely be very strong month, as the festival season (Dussehra-Diwali) is largely bunched up in October this year as compared with the October-November period last year," says Nomura in a research note.
The domestic auto industry has been going through a challenging phase for the last few years. The overall slowdown in the gross domestic product (GDP) growth, high inflation, interest rates and fuel prices have had an adverse bearing on auto sales.
According to CARE Ratings, major OEMs have announced new launches especially in the passenger vehicle and two-wheeler segments. It said, these launches and the upcoming festival season should augur well for the channel and help in sales growth and improvement in credit profiles of the dealerships.
"Going forward, while the excise duty reduction will keep the vehicle prices lower and give an impetus to the sector, the improvement in the fundamental macro factors like tapering of
inflation and lowering of interest rates etc. is what will lead to a sustainable improvement across the sector in the medium term," it added.
To encourage automobile sales, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government reduced excise duty on automobiles in the Interim Budget.
This concession was extended by another six months, till 31 December 2014 by the Narendra Modi government in its pre-budget announcement.
Coming back to August 2014, medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MCHVs) recorded a 10% volume growth during the month, first time in over two years, led by improved demand as well as low base effect.
In passenger car segment, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) and Hyundai Motor India helped the industry to record stronger than expected volumes with their robust performance. Especially, MSIL's passenger car sales jumped 30% to 82,823 units. This helped the company, a unit of Japanese Suzuki Motor Corp, to increase its domestic market share to about 54% in August compared with 50% in FY2014.
Nomura said, "Despite new launches (by competitors like Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent) MSIL D’zire volumes increased by around 40%. This is quite positive, in our view."
Within unlisted original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Hyundai volumes increased by 19%, while Honda volumes increased by 27%. Volumes for most other multi-national OEMs, like Ford, General Motors, VolksWagen and Renault, continue to see steep declines during August.
During August, overall car industry volumes increased by 15%. Hatchback witnessed a growth of 9% while sedan volumes jumped by 30%. The growth in sedan segment was led by recent launches like Honda Amaze and Hyundai Xcent as well as old horse Maruti D'zire.
Newly launched Hyundai Elite i20 sold about 6,600 units while Tata Motors Ltd, the country's largest vehicle maker, dispatched around 2700 units of its newly launched Zest model. On the other hand, Datsun Go failed to impress with sales of only 1,100 units in August 2014.
In the utility vehicle (UV) space, Honda Mobilio helped the segment to record 16% growth. During the month, Honda Mobilio sold about 5,500 units.
Talking about Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), the largest UV maker in the country, Nomura said, "We note that Scorpio volumes were surprisingly weak (down 32%); however, XUV5oo volumes remained strong with about 2,800 units or 26% growth.
Bolero volumes were largely flattish, while Xylo and Quanto continue to see big declines."
Nomura said, despite strong industry volumes, key models from several OEMs saw a big decline during August. Ford Figo, Cheverolet Beat, Nissan Sunny and VW Vento saw volume declined by 30% to 60%.
Two-wheeler strong run continues
During August, two-wheeler segment continued its strong run and reported a health growth of around 19%. Bike volumes increased 14% while scooter sales jumped 30% during the month. The growth was led by TVS Motors, Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI) and Hero MotoCorp Ltd, all of which posted double-digit growth. Bajaj Auto continued to lag, reporting a flattish growth of 2.1%.
HMSI's domestic volumes rose 27% to 3.71 lakh units, led by robust growth of 48% in its scooter segment. This helped the unit of Japanese Honda Motor Co Ltd, to consolidate its market share to 27.6% compared with 24% in FY2014. With its bike volumes declining by 9%, Bajaj Auto's lost its market share. Its market share in August was 10.2% as against 14.2% in FY14. Led by strong volumes in bike segment, Hero MotoCorp's domestic volumes increased 19% during August.
Interestingly, in two-wheeler segment, while lower-end (less than 110cc) and premium (above 125cc) bikes saw a growth of 24% and 16%, respectively, mid-range (110-125cc) volumes fell 18%.
In the MCHV segment while August was a good month for truck sales (up around 20%), volumes in bus segment fell to 26%. Even within truck segment, volumes in higher tonnage (above 16 tons) outperformed lower tonnage (between 7.5 to 12 tons) units. Volumes for 16 tons and above increased 38% during August.
LCV volumes deteriorated further during August. Sales volumes in less than 2 tons remained weak and fell by 20% while volumes in pick up (2 to 3.5 tons) segment declined by 7% during the month.
Festive season offers
Maruti Suzuki is offering region-specific festive accessory packs, which includes a selection of five or more accessory options for the customer to chose. For example, its Durga Puja celebration box has an image of the Goddess in an acrylic frame with an aroma dispenser among other things like sun visors, pedal, back cushion, car frame and tissue case.
Datsun Go is offering benefits of about Rs38,000 to customers during the festivals. This includes an exchange benefit of up to Rs20,000, insurance support worth R4,000, free extended warranty worth Rs4,000 and an additional discount of Rs10,000 on Datsun Go D, D1 & A variants.
Renault is offering an extended warranty of 2+2 years or 80,000 kms besides assured gift and free insurance on the RxE variant of its Duster, SUV. However, this offer is valid till 15th September only.
The Commission said it will further study 261 more statutes with a view to providing a firm recommendation for repeal of obsolete statutes and those inconsonant with modern times
As the Indian government prepares to bring a fresh bill in Parliament to repeal archaic laws, the Law Commission on Friday recommended revoking 72 obsolete statutes, saying there is an "urgent need" to ensure that the legal structures are responsive to challenges of changing times.
One of the laws -- Bengal District Act -- recommended for repeal dates back to 1836. Several other laws recommended for revoking belong to period dating from 1838 to 1898.
In its 'interim' report to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Commission said it will further study 261 more statutes "with a view to providing a firm recommendation for repeal of obsolete statutes and those inconsonant with modern times".
The law panel said it would complete its study in "instalments" and submit a number of volumes to the government for necessary action.
"The government led by Narendra Modi is keen to repeal obsolete laws. Already a bill seeking to repeal 32 such Acts is pending in Parliament. We will take up the issue of repealing more such obsolete laws in the right earnest in the next session of Parliament," Prasad told reporters after receiving the report.
The panel said there is a need to identify laws which have become obsolete "and as such keeping them on statute books is causing unwarranted burden on the system".
It said while studying the issue, the Commission found that a large number of Appropriation Acts passed during the past several years in reality have lost meaning but continue to be part of the statute books.