The PIO of the Revenue Department at the Delhi government gave a vague reply when asked about publishing information under Section 4. The CIC then directed the PIO to publish and update information on the department's portal. This is the 106th 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 allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Revenue Department at the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), to display information on its website as mandated under Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving this judgement on 29 June 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The PIO has given slightly vague replies because there does not appear to be a systematic effort to ensure that Section 4 is complied with. The PIO is directed to ensure that information as directed above is displayed on the website and updated as per the directions.”
New Delhi resident Rambir Singh, on 1 November 2010 sought information regarding implementation of Section 4, from the PIO of the Revenues Department. Here is the information he sought under the RTI Act and the reply provided by the PIO...
1. Whether any action has been initiated/ proposed to be taken against officers/ Public Authority for not initializing action as per Sections 4(1)(a), 4(1)(b), 4(2), 4(3)& 4(4) of the RTI, Act within 120 days from the enactment of the Act
PIO's Reply: If it is found that no action has been initiated within 120 days of enactment of the Act under Sections 4(1)(a), 4(1)(b), 4(2), 4(3)& 4(4) then action shall be taken
2. Information regarding the status/action taken under Section 4 of the RTI Act
PIO's Reply: The Question is not clear
3. Information regarding the proposed time to be taken in obeying the directions under Section 4 of the RTI Act
PIO's Reply: The information Under Section 4 of the act is available with the PIO of this district and the same can be obtained
Singh, citing the information provided by the PIO as unsatisfying and vague filed his first appeal. In his order on 28 January 2011, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, “The appellant is required to provide/comply with the provision of section 4 of the RTI Act. Let the PIO/ ADM (South West) give a factual reply in details on the issue i.e. Section 4 of the RTI Act about Dist. South West. The appeal was thereafter disposed of.”
Singh then approached the CIC. In his second appeal, he stated that “(the) PIO has not provided true and complete information as per direction of the FAA. Neither the PIO nor the FAA mentioned the address of the second appellate authority in their reply which, appellant claims, amounts to denial of information.”
During the hearing before the Commission, Mr Gandhi noted that the PIO had given slightly vague replies due to lack of systematic efforts for complying with Section 4 of the RTI Act.
After discussing the matter with both Singh and the PIO, the CIC directed the PIO to ensure that the following information regarding the public authority is displayed on the website of the department:
1 Information every month on the number defaults in meeting the SLA (Service Level Agreements) and amount of penalty recovered form officers for default.
2 Orders passed under Section 81 of Delhi Land Reform Act 1954.
While allowing the appeal, Mr Gandhi said, “The order is being given by the Commission under its powers under Section 19(8) (a) of the RTI Act. This is a requirement of Section 4 of the RTI Act. It would ensure that both the above information is updated every month before the 10th of the following month.”
He also directed the PIO to send a compliance report along with the URL address (web address) where the information has been uploaded to Singh and the Commission before 25 July 2011.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/001225/13156
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/001225
Appellant : Rambir Singh,
New Delhi - 110037
Respondent : BS Jaglan
PIO & ADM (SW)
Revenue Department, GNCTD
Old Terminal Tax Building,
Kapashera, New Delhi - 110037
Department of Economic Affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram too hinted that the government could take more steps to reduce gold imports, which may include banning sale of the yellow metal by banks
With a staggering gold imports at $15 billion in the last two months, the government Monday said there will be corrective measures including a possible ban on sale of gold coins by banks to check the alarming trend that has put huge pressure on current account deficit (CAD).
The Financial Stability Development Council (FSDC), chaired by finance minister P Chidambaram, met and discussed the issue.
For May, the import of gold was 162 tonnes, Chidambaram said after the meeting.
“The Council noted with concern the significant increase in gold imports in recent months and deliberated on the issues involved in this regard,” the finance ministry said in a statement after the meeting.
Department of Economic Affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram too hinted that the government could take more steps to reduce gold imports, which may include banning sale of the yellow metal by banks.
“More steps will have to be taken to reduce gold imports. Export import policy on gold will have to be reviewed. May consider banning gold coin sale by banks,” he said.
The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been taking steps to reduce gold import. High import has widened the current account deficit (CAD), which hit a record high of 6.7% of GDP in October-December quarter of 2012-13.
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma also expressed serious concern over the issue.
“Yes, I met the FM and discussed it. We have serious concerns. We cannot allow a situation where gold (imports) in the last two months have reached a stage where it is causing huge stress,” Sharma said after the meeting.
“There will be corrective (measures), banks have taken corrective measures. And I am going to review it. And we will ensure that only for actual users gold is imported not for trading purposes. Except gems and jewellery and the gold refinery..., I don't think it should be allowed for trading,” he said.
Gold imports from India, the world’s largest consumer, stood at 860 tonnes in 2012.
Later speaking at a function, Sharma said, “Indians have an insatiable appetite for gold. Import of gold is our shared concern. Last two months, we have imported gold worth $15 billion. Can we afford it? Are people losing confidence in household savings in banks?”
“That 4% (savings rate) has not been a healthy drop. In my understanding our investment must go up to 38%-39%, savings at 35%-36%. We have to make an effort. The only way to manage CAD is to ease pressure on trade account deficit,” he said.
The government and or urea manufacturers must seriously consider setting up overseas units in the Gulf so as to get the best advantage in the present circumstances. Such a move would bring in bilateral benefit whereby India can assure these overseas partners that their foodgrain supply will be guaranteed
Bold advertisements speak of the record production of foodgrain made in the last nine years of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) rule. Production rose from 198.36 million tonnes to a robust 259 million tonnes in 2012-13. Such announcements will not say anything about the million of tonnes lost to rodents, rotting in open warehouses and other forms of damage making them unusable.
In the meantime, the UPA wishes to process and get the Food Security Bill passed, which is expected to assure some 80 crore Indians supply of rice at Rs3 per kg and wheat at Rs4 per kg, thanks to the record production.
Monsoon prediction is good, but it is too early to say how the wind blows.
It is entirely a different matter that in order to achieve this, urea subsidy alone is Rs9,000 per tonne, given to the gas-based fertilizer units. According to information available, the cost of production of urea is Rs15,000 per tonne and the manufacturer is permitted to sell the same at Rs5,360 (MRP) to the farmer, and the government subsidizes by giving Rs9,000. This enables the manufacturer to get a return of 12% while making the urea available to farmer at a uniform price. As against this, imported urea costs anything between Rs22,000 to Rs24,000 per tonne. In addition to which costs of shipping freight, domestic handling and transportation costs to the point of consumption and the intermediary margins will only increase the total burden. The government subsidy will also increase accordingly.
The farmer is assured of a minimum sales price when selling the produce to the government and he is free to sell in the open market to fetch a higher return.
The supply of fertilizers helps the farmer to ensure that his produce is of good quality and marketable. To achieve this, he depends upon the uninterrupted supply of urea at the uniform price.
The installed urea capacity in the country is 200 million tonnes, but the actual production is around 225 MT, against the annual requirement which varies between 305 MT and 310 MT, necessitating the import of some 75/80 million tonnes. Poor rainfall would mean lower consumption of urea.
A reference to the demand for natural gas is necessary to understand the present status of fertilizer units. Because of the dwindling supply of gas, no new fertilizer units have come up (or licensed). In fact, the existing units have shed their ambition to expand simply because of non-guarantee in gas supplies and the continuing need to depend upon imported LNG, of which 10-12 mmscmd are imported.
Led by the agricultural minister Sharad Pawar, a Group of Ministers (GoM) is scheduled to meet next week to consider a revision in the pricing policy of urea which may be kept valid for a period of three years. Such a move will probably give adequate time for the prospective increase in the indigenous gas supplies duly supported by supply pipelines.
What is to be noted is that if the MRP is not fixed and the manufacturer is permitted to fix a remunerative price, urea cost will skyrocket to the farmer and the cost of production will go haywire. The government, obviously, cannot subsidize manufacturers’ profits, but can help to a certain extent. At the same time, it cannot carry on this programme of indefinitely subsidizing the urea cost.
It therefore remains to be seen the kind of reception that Food Security Bill will get in the Parliament, though, the opposition led by BJP has outwardly, at least, claimed that it has no objection in taking up this issue.
In the meantime, the government and or urea manufacturers must seriously consider setting up overseas units in UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran so as to get the best advantage in the present circumstances. Such a move would bring in bilateral benefit whereby India can assure these overseas partners that their foodgrain supply will be guaranteed, and, in the process, cost of production of urea will be considerably cheaper than in India!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)