RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: How the government ‘misplaces’ inquiry reports

This particular case highlights the careless way in which reports of Commissions of enquiry are lost over the years. It makes one wonder if we should not stress more on adherence to some timeframes. This is the sixth in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The public information officer (PIO) or other person responsible for not providing information to an applicant within the stipulated time can be summoned and penalised under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner noted that the actions of the PIO attract the penal provisions of Section 20(1) of the RTI Act.


“...it is apparent that the PIO is guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 by not replying within 30 days, as per the requirement of the RTI Act. It appears that the PIO’s actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20(1). If there are other persons responsible for the delay in providing the information to the appellant, then the PIO is directed to inform such persons of the show-cause hearing and direct them to appear before the Commission with him,” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order issued on 17 September 2010.


Delhi-based Suroor Mander sought information and certified copies from the PIO of the Lok Sabha about the Jain-Aggarwal Committee Report, Banerjee, Misra & Marwah Commission Report on the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots with its annexures as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry.


Ms Mander also sought reports and action taken reports of various commissions...


  • Certified photocopy of the Jain-Aggarwal Committee Report, Banerjee, Misra & Marwah Commission Report on the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots with its annexure as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry.
  • Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Jain-Agarwal, Banerjee, Misra & Marwah Commission Committee.
  • Certified photocopy of the Bhatt and Singh. Commission Report on the 1989 Bhagalpur Anti-Muslim Riots with its annexure as well as all other documents to the Commission.
  • Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the Bihar Legislative Assembly on the Bhatt and Singh Commission of inquiry.
  • Certified photocopy of the Narula Committee Report on the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots with its annexure as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry.
  • Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Narula Committee.
  • Certified photocopy of the Mahapatra Commission’s Interim Report on the 2007 Kandhamal Riots with its annexure as well as all other documents related to the Commission.
  • Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the Orissa Legislative Assembly on the Mahapatra Commission of inquiry.
  • Certified photocopy of the Kapur-Mittal Commission Report on the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots with its annexure as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry.
  • Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Kapur-Mittal Commission of inquiry.
  • Certified photocopy of the Nanavati Commission Report on the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots with its annexure as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry
  • Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Nanavati Commission of inquiry


Assuming that it does not have the reports, the PIO, Lok Sabha transferred the RTI application to the ministry of home affairs (MHA). The MHA also did not have the reports and transferred the application of Ms Mander to the Chief Secretary, who then forwarded it to Divisional Commissioner of Delhi. The Divisional Commissioner, in turn transferred the application to Home Department of the Delhi government. The PIO at the Home Department of Delhi could not locate the reports sought by Ms Mander and tried to provide some of the reports. However, nobody from the government could provide the Marwah Commission, the Dhillon Commission and the Narula Commission reports on the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots.


The CIC noted that it appears that a number of Commissions have made hay on the Anti-Sikh Riots and given reports which have not delivered any justice to the victims and yet these reports cannot be located. The appellant naively believes that the government would have acted on these reports, whereas it appears nobody is even aware of what these reports said, it said.


The PIO and joint secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi also refused to provide the Kapur-Mittal report on the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots citing official secrets. He stated that, "...the report of Kapur-Mittal Committee has been marked as secret and therefore cannot be disclosed under the provisions of Official Secret Act, 1923”.


The CIC pointed out that the action (refusing information under other law for an RTI application) of the PIO is without any basis in the law. “Nearly four and half years after the RTI Act, 2005, had been implemented a PIO must realize that refusal to give information can only be based on the exemptions of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act,” the Commission noted.


While allowing the appeal by Ms Mander, the CIC asked the PIO to provide a copy of the Kapur-Mittal Committee report and also directed the Home Secretary to provide an affidavit as regards with Marwah Commission, Dhillon Commission and Narula Committee reports certifying that these reports are not with the Delhi government.


The Information Commission, while issuing a show-cause notice also asked the PIO and joint secretary to present himself before the Commission along with written submissions showing why penalty should not be imposed on him under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act. The Commission also asked the PIO to inform about the show cause notice and bring for hearing before it, any persons who may be responsible for the delay in providing the information to Ms Mander.




Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/002098/9399



Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/002098

Appellant    : Ms Suroor Mander B-68, Second Floor,
                          Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi-110017                               

Respondent :    Mr MA Ashref PIO & Joint Secretary (Home-II)
                            Govt. of NCT of Delhi Home (Police-II) Deptt,
                             5th Level 'C' Wing, Delhi Secretariat,
                             New Delhi-110002. 



Direct cash transfers do provide political mileage to rulers, says World Bank study

Voters respond to targeted cash transfers and these transfers can foster support for incumbents, thus making the case for designing political and legislative mechanisms that avoid successful anti-poverty schemes from being captured by political patronage, says a study from the World Bank

The Indian government’s ambitious direct cash transfer scheme using the UID or Aadhaar number as a base may provide rich benefits to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in next general elections. At present over 40 countries use conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs to provide money to poor families, mostly through women. However, several of these countries saw the incumbent who has started the CCT programs reaping political mileage in next election, says a study.
According to a policy research working paper prepared by the World Bank , there is a political economy aspect of such conditional cash transfers or CCT programs. “In theory, anti-poverty programs such as CCTs may play a role in influencing individual political participation—in the form of voting—and preferences, strengthening democratic representation but also producing electoral rewards. For instance, by partly changing the economic circumstances of households, transfer receipts could persuade participant households to exercise their right to vote,” the study ‘Conditional Cash Transfers, Political Participation, and Voting Behaviour’, says.
CCT programs, started over 15 years ago in Latin America, are now used in over 40 countries across the world. Even though certain program characteristics vary from country to country, in general, standard CCTs provide money to poor families, through women, contingent upon investments in the human capital of their children, such as regular school attendance, basic preventive healthcare and better nutrition. A large number of CCTs have been subject to rigorous valuations, most of which show that they have fuelled the twin primary objectives of alleviating poverty in the short term and building the human capital of poor children, the study says.
The possibility of reaping electoral returns by strategically allocating targeted transfers to strengthen political prospects is not only a theoretical prediction but also an issue that has caught the attention in current public debates. Conjectures on possible political rewards linked to participation in CCTs have been reported in the media following presidential elections in Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Brazil. In the specific case of Colombia, different media outlets speculated right before the 2010 presidential election that the official government had used the expansion and allocation of Familias en Accion (FA), a large scale CCT program to systematically increase its votes. More recently, and perhaps due to current debates on the possible misallocation of program benefits by local politicians, the government of Colombia has passed laws to make of Familias en Accion a formal national poverty reduction program. To further avoid political capture of the program, the law bans enrolling new beneficiaries three months before major elections.
The study points out that despite potential interactions between government policies and voter decision making, little evidence is available to assess whether conditional social transfers encourage people to vote and influence their political choices. Rigorous evidence on the subject however, is starting to emerge. Using individual level self-reported data, Manacorda et al (2011) find that beneficiaries of PANES—a large and temporary unconditional Cash Transfer Program in Uruguay—express larger support for the incumbent that implemented the program. The authors attribute that extra support to the inference of beneficiaries on the politicians’ redistributive preferences as well as from reciprocity. Similarly, evidence for Romania shows that incumbents gained political support through a program aimed at helping poor families purchase a computer, the World Bank study says.
The World Bank says it studied the effect of enrolment in FA, a Colombian CCT program, on the intent to vote, turn out and on electoral choice during the 2010 presidential election. “We provide evidence that relative to non-participants, FA beneficiaries of voting age are 1.6-2.5 percentage points more likely to register to vote. A standard deviation increase in the proportion of FA beneficiaries, at each booth, results in a 1.6-1.8 percentage point increase in the probability of casting a ballot and a 1.5 percentage point increase in the probability of voting for the incumbent party under which the program was expanded. This effect is stronger for women, who are the direct recipients of the cash transfer as established by the program rules. The elected candidate won in the run-off election with a large margin (69% of the votes), thus our results are unlikely to explain the final outcome. However, they show that voters respond to targeted transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents, thus making the case for designing political and legislative mechanisms that avoid successful anti-poverty schemes from being captured by political patronage,” the study pointed out.
Back home, the incumbent union government is facing an uphill task due to several allegations over 2G telecom scam, Coalgate and many others. The UPA, under the leadership of Manmohan Singh (Sonia Gandhi, to be precise), was able to retain power at the Centre twice since 2004 and 2009. With the country slated to go for next general election in 2014, the UPA is facing difficulties on several fronts. In this situation opposite parties and several citizens are raising questions on the intention of the union government to roll out its ambitious direct cash transfer (DCT) scheme, using the UID or Aadhaar.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, has complained to the Election Commission (EC) about the direct cash transfer scheme. Last week BJP leaders met and submitted a memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath. “We request the Election Commission to direct the government to withdraw the announcement and defer it to an appropriate time after the completion of the election process in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh,” the memorandum says.
Opposing the move, Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) has said that the Union Government's direct cash transfer scheme is “anti-poor” as it would actually cut subsidies due to the high inflation rate and not cover the rising prices of foodgrains. Noting that the Congress had dubbed direct cash transfer as a “game changer”, the CPI(M) Politburo said the scheme was “indeed a game changer whose rules are weighted against the poor, in favour of the UPA-II government’s obsessive commitment to cut subsidies to the working people”.
The government has already announced that it will operationalise a phased shift from subsidy-based system to direct cash transfers for its various welfare schemes from next January in 51 districts to start with through the Aadhaar number developed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
While the DCT scheme is turning controversial, its premise to use UIDAI’s Aadhaar numbering system that has a potential to erupt as a volcano of malpractices, raises many questions.  Already, many voices have been raised against the forceful implementation of the UID project, with most objections focused on concerns over privacy. Moreover, there are issues over the legality of Aadhaar itself. The National Identification Authority of India (NIA) Bill is still pending before Parliament. The Bill seeks to constitute a statutory authority and lay down its powers and functions, besides deciding the framework to issue the UID or Aadhaar numbers. Yet, the Indian government and UIDAI are going ahead implementing the scheme and issuing Aadhaar numbers without any constitutional validity as yet.
According to an expert, the government is the executive not empowered by the Constitution to implement projects spending public money without legislative sanction. “In the case of UIDAI, while the executive may appoint anyone to head it, the government is legally constrained from implementing the project and issuing Aadhaar numbers,” the expert said.
Linking Aadhaar numbers to direct cash transfer is also not without issues. The government is trying to link the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme and Aadhaar, which uses biometric identification, to directly pay money into labourers’ bank account. Experts have repeatedly pointed out that biometric identification for manual workers has a high 20% margin of error as fingerprints of such workers change. The problem is similar with senior citizens.
Despite all the issues with Aadhaar, DCT, the UPA government is forging ahead with its implementation. From next month, the DCT would be implemented in 51 districts. The government aims to roll out the cash transfer scheme in 18 states from 1 April 2013 and remaining 16 states from 1 April 2014. The final roll out coincides with the general election, unless there are mid-term elections, which at this stage are unlikely.
The World Bank study, especially about the presidential elections in Columbia in 2010 concludes that voters respond to targeted cash transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents, thus making the case for designing political and legislative mechanisms that avoid successful anti-poverty schemes from being captured by political patronage. 



Dayananda Kamath k

4 years ago

it is nothing but buying votes from poor people. govts main job is law and order, justice and security, external affairs for this they have the right to tax the people. but here the money is being squandered to buy votes by a finance ministerwhose election petition is pending and it is completing 4 years.election commission is least bothered . it will give only warnings and leave as it is and they will get all the benefits of their announcements. god save india

Dr Paresh Vaidya

4 years ago

Many objections have been listed against the Direct Subsidy Transfer like misuse of cash in wrong avenues,likely delay due to Banks' workload, fake beneficiaries etc; but there is one objection which so far no one has mentioned. That is about people migrating out of eligibility when they become Above Poverty line from BPL status. There is no periodic review of one's income , thus once eligible, always eligible. However Currently the social shame keeps people out of taking undue benefit. For example, if I am well to do I will not like to be seen on a ration shop, so get dropped automatically. But in Direct transfer subsidy comes silently to your bank account and thee is no negative incentive to be dishonest. A strict renewal regime should be introduced to avoid permanent membership.



In Reply to Dr Paresh Vaidya 4 years ago

With due respect to Dr. Vaidya, the greedy and the unprincipled have no qualms of being seen in a queue in front of a "soup kitchen" in India! When free TV sets were being distributed, many people were indeed seen to be alighting from their cars and carrying TV sets meant for the BPL people (without electricity connection)! Judges are seen in lower courts to be taking money in open court and even haggling over payments. I know of a Metropolitan Magistrate who contacted an accident victim through a middleman (advocate for State) and demanding money and then taking a " very strict view" of the unreasonable demand of a young boy whose sporting career and future have been ruined for NOT paying the demanded sum and even admonishing his mother in an open court, objecting to her " tone" as she was expressing her displeasure over the measly sum! The corrupt and the lowly (in mind) have no sense of dignity to abstain themselves even from taking advantage of BPL benefits as are often reported too.

Sadanand Vinayak Nadkarni

4 years ago

it is funny. We seem to be opposed to any action by any political party which is likely to enhance their percentage of voting. If "vote-catching" is bad, what is good?EVERY GOOD STEP MUST GIVE THE PARTY MORE VOTES and that is to be appreciated. The discussion strays from the pros and cons of Direct cash transfer which will undoubtedly reduce money being swindled by intermediaries.
Similarly,the objection to ADHAR appears frivolous, because "finger-prints change" ADHAR also takes iris prints and other measures so that the identity of the person is Unique for that person. I hope we will stop being "opposed" to every new idea.--Dr.S.V.Nadkarni



In Reply to Sadanand Vinayak Nadkarni 4 years ago

Thanks Dr Nadkarni for posting your comment. We request you to read an article written by David Moss (who is responsible for curtailing UID scheme in UK) http://www.moneylife.in/article/true-lie...
In addition, you may also want to read, "Right to privacy and biometrics of the UID" http://www.moneylife.in/article/right-to...
Thanks again


4 years ago

Thank you for the story. As I have already mentioned earlier on response to a recent piece on your site, AADHAAR is NOT recognised by even an Indian mobile service provider as a valid and legal ID proof and, in view of the petition filed by a retired judge and another (already covered by you), it is now clear that the entire scheme is ILLEGAL, not being supported by any law unlike the PAN under the Income Tax Act. In light of the legal position thus emerging from the plea made in the aforesaid petition, the very basis scheme of cash transfers through bank accounts with reference to AADHAAR cards must therefore be unconstitutional too.

Commercial globalisation: The mother of all modern day ills

Commercial globalization is making the world more polarized and prone to conflict. Security experts observe that this globalization has national security implications and is eroding the power of nation-states through world trade and financial bodies


Globalisation, in its essence, is a process wherein the various countries get easily interconnected to promote social, economic and cultural exchanges.  Current globalization is, however, primarily limited to economic activity. Now the World Trade Organisation (WTO) controls international trade. This has been done to ease international trade by reducing the possibility of individual countries putting up trade barriers. Economists claim that this has given people easier access to goods and services at cheaper prices. But in reality, it has retarded the manufacturing industry in the developed countries and in India. It has also helped efficient, low-cost Asian economies like that of China, to prosper.  
Today, an American or an Indian can buy a commodity made in China at a much cheaper price than the one made within their country. Unlike in the past, over 70% of the goods sold in the developed countries like the US and those in Europe are not made in their country, and consequentially, millions of common people have lost their jobs. Even in India, due to its poor infrastructure and unfriendly manufacturing policies, a large number of goods of every variety are being imported. There is a sharp and progressive decline in manufacturing in India since 1991. Many Indian manufacturers are selling Chinese goods under their brand. Even in the case of the service industry, thanks to the fast progress of the telecom, micro-electronics and IT industries, the job market potential has shifted to countries like India and Philippines.     
Revolution in communication and information technologies has further helped beneficiaries of globalisation like multinational companies and big business groups through faster and easier growth of free trade and electronic commerce. Consequential and seemingly uncontrollable power of deregulated capital markets has also done much to enhance the power of markets to the extent that it creates a sense of economic irrelevance of national borders. 
In actuality, commercial globalization is making the world more polarized and prone to conflict.  Its proponents claim that it facilitates integration, promotes openness and encourages institutional reform—though the fact remains that it is limited almost exclusively to commercial interests of multinational firms and branded merchandise owners. Consider for instance, a Chinese shirt costing $2 that sells at $20 to the end customers. Shocks associated with such globalization—limited only to trade—is causing a financial crisis everywhere, and has led to economic instability in the world. As a result, it has actually widened the gaps within and between countries. The rich are getting richer, thereby widening the gap between the rich and the poor in every country.
Security experts observe that this globalization of commerce, initiated at the behest of the business world, has national security implications and is eroding the power of nation-states through world trade and financial bodies. 
Knowledge has become a commodity
The intellectual property regime has made knowledge a commodity meant for commercial exploitation to achieve unlimited financial benefit and in some cases, for the suppression of new inventions, by buying and burying the intellectual property that would hurt corporate interest. For example, it is well known that the pharmaceutical industry prevents the unfurling of any new knowledge that would hurt their drug sale. On the other hand, traditional knowledge amongst the old and largely poor global societies remains unprotected, severely undervalued and used for free by big businesses. The patenting regime and the corporate control of agriculture effectively obliterate the last link of the poor to survival. A certain amount of guilt in this respect is reflected in attempts to create a Public Sector Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture by the Rockefeller Foundation, but this too is facing severe opposition by the drug industry. Corporate control of agriculture is yet another gift of globalisation limited to commercial interest of businesses and capital market gamblers. 
Media Manipulation
Today, governments surrender their sovereignty to international aid institutions and indulge in taking shortcuts for so called speeding up of development after failing consistently to address even the survival issues of the country's poor. There are many ex-employee pensioners of world bodies, who are now involved in governing nations, and serve as ambassadors of commercial globalisation. Technology too helps multi-nationals and other biggies, since traditional press media is being replaced by the television that helps them to deliver their marketing messages even to the rural illiterate, by crossing the barriers of literacy. South Asia is the home of almost 45% of the world’s poor, who are mostly illiterate. Commercial media reaches these people via at least 60 broadcast satellites to watch over 500 channels beamed at them. They carry new kind of messages that are magnetic and magical with the sole purpose of promoting an all-consuming lifestyle through lure and fear, enticing them to buy branded goods. It also promotes greed and ruthlessness to promote a money-centric life that poses a huge threat to more enduring social values that promote love and community bonding. It is interesting to know that the ownership, control and use of this medium has commercial exploitation as its primary interest and has nothing to do with informing the uninformed of the ways and means to lead a peaceful and rewarding life.  Advertisers control the entertainment and content since producers, in reality, depend on corporate sponsorships. Information and communication technologies have indeed shrunk distances, but they have not brought people together. In fact, it is creating a highly individualised and parochial society and in the process, hurting its diversity and charm.
A close look at the concept of today’s commercial globalisation tells us that it allows big multinational companies and large business groups to exploit people worldwide, and in the process ruin national economies and use lure and fear to promote greed and excessive consumption. Historically, it was evolved out of a nexus between US politicians and multi-national conglomerates. Business schools train the swarms of MBA graduates to ride the globalisation bandwagon. Executive pays in these businesses is the proverbial carrot that attracts talents from other professions. There is no doubt that globalisation is singularly responsible for the worldwide economic meltdown.  It is clear that the globalisation practiced today cannot serve humankind, nor will it bring the people of the world closer emotionally. Besides augmenting the profits of big businesses, it has done the greatest social harm by making life money-centric. 
This globalization is not about a borderless world
Sant Dnyaneshwar is the most revered saint of Maharashtra. Dnyaneshwar Mauli, (Mother Dnyaneshwar) as he is called by his disciples like me, was the first one in the world to uphold the principle of globalisation. His insightful prayer starts with ‘he vishwachi maze ghar’ (the entire universe is my home). His globalisation was about the oneness of a borderless world. The current, MNC sponsored commercial globalisation must be making Mauli very uncomfortable in his Samadhi!
In case you wish to read more articles by the same writer, please click here.
(PS Deodhar is founder and former chairman of the Aplab Group of companies. He is also the former chairman of the Electronics Commission of the Government of India and was an advisor to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on electronics. He also was the chairman of the Broadcast Council in 1992-93 that set in motion the privatisation of the electronic media with metro channels.)





4 years ago

I dont know how to counter your arguements though I believe globalisation is important for a nation in present times. Absolutely brilliant article .. I also read your article about the condition of India's manufacturing sector and how whatever China is doing seems so obvious and simple. I am surprised I am the first one to comment on your articles they are just superb !! thank you for the enlightenment on so many issues!!

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