The CIC said the information sought by the appellant must be provided and MCD must ensure that it must available suo moto in fulfilment of its duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act. This is the 187th 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) at the office of the Superintending Engineer in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide entire information sought by the appellant and comply with Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving the judgement on 9 June 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, "The information sought by the appellant must be provided and MCD must ensure that this must available suo moto in fulfilment of its duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act."
Delhi resident, Harpal Singh Rana, on 29 December 2008, sought from the PIO information regarding employees, works assigned and carried out for road making in Delhi. Here is the information he sought and the reply provided by the PIO...
1. How many Departments and offices are working under Civil Line Zone, Give address of all those department and offices?
PIO's reply- Ward No. 5,6,7 and 8 comes under Civil Line Zone's E.E.M-I address of which below mentioned:-
Civil Line Zone, 16, Rajpur Road,
2. Give details of appointment of officers and employees in the respective department.
PIO's reply- Mr. V.K.Grover (AE), Mr. V.S.Chouhan (JE), Mr.V.K.Gupta (AE), Mr. Amit (JE), Mr. Yashpal Raahilla (JE), Mr.Jagmohan Sharma (JE).
3. Give the details of vacancy in the all department on said ward.
PIO's reply- There is no vacancy.
4. Give the details of income and expenditure on different items in different departments and offices.
PIO's reply- The copy had already been provided.
5. The details of given duties of officers and employees related to Civil line zone.
PIO's reply- It is related to Town Hall Head quarters.
6. Give the following details in written of development work in wards:-
a) Name of work
b) Brief description of work
c) Approved amount of work
d) Approval date of work
e) Status of the work
f) Name of the agency.
Give the details of the kind of guarantee or time limit was provided.
PIO's reply- The copy had already been provided.
7. Please give the details of population density and total area of Bhalsva, in the Jahangirpur ward J.J.Colony, Nagali Poona, Kadipur area etc.
PIO's reply- It is not related to this part of question.
8. Give the details of agencies which did the work of excavation and cutting of road for which purpose in what time in all the wards from April 2007 to Nov, 2008.
PIO's reply- No excavation work of road had begun in the said wards.
9. Give the details of dates and amount deposited by agencies and expenditure in different wards.
PIO's reply- -As above-
Not satisfied with the PIO's reply, Rana filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) directed the PIO to provide information on points 4, 5 and 6.
Rana, then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
After hearing Rana, the appellant and the PIO, the Bench of Mr Gandhi, said, "The nature of information sought by the appellant should have been provided suo moto by the public authority. It is apparent that this is not been done and MCD is not fulfilling its basic duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act. The then PIO Pushkar Sharma is also guilty of not providing information in time and not complying with the direction of the first appellate authority."
While allowing the appeal, the Bench directed the PIO to provide entire information to Rana. The CIC also asked the additional commissioner for revenues at MCD to ensure compliance with Section 4 of the RTI Act, and make available all the information on the MCD website before 15 August 2009.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000891/3620
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000891
Appellant : Harpal Singh Rana
Respondent : Pushkar Sharma
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Office of the Superintending Engineer
Civil Lines Zone
This weekend brought more than a modicum of clarity to what happened behind the scenes in the run-up to the Oct. 1 launch of Healthcare.gov.
In a devastating story, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post dissected how politics trumped policy when it came to the Affordable Care Act. In two key paragraphs, they wrote:
Based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and outsiders who worked alongside them, the project was hampered by the White House's political sensitivity to Republican hatred of the law - sensitivity so intense that the president's aides ordered that some work be slowed down or remain secret for fear of feeding the opposition. Inside the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the main agency responsible for the exchanges, there was no single administrator whose full-time job was to manage the project. Republicans also made clear they would block funding, while some outside IT companies that were hired to build the Web site, HealthCare.gov, performed poorly.
These interwoven strands ultimately caused the exchange not to be ready by its Oct. 1 start date. It was not ready even though, on the balmy Sunday evening of March 21, 2010, hours after the bill had been enacted, the president had stood on the Truman Balcony for a champagne toast with his weary staff and put them on notice: They needed to get started on carrying out the law the very next morning. It was not ready even though, for months beginning last spring, the president emphasized the exchange's central importance during regular staff meetings to monitor progress. No matter which aspects of the sprawling law had been that day's focus, the official said, Obama invariably ended the meeting the same way: "All of that is well and good, but if the Web site doesn't work, nothing else matters."
The Post also posted online a May 2010 letter written by David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama's 2008 campaign, to Larry Summers, director of the White House's National Economic Council. In it, Cutler wrote:
My general view is that the early implementation efforts are far short of what it will take to implement reform successfully. For health reform to be successful, the relevant people need a vision about health system transformation and the managerial ability to carry out that vision. The President has sketched out such a vision. However, I do not believe the relevant members of the Administration understand the President's vision or have the capability to carry it out.
Another piece worth a read:“What’s Really Obstructing Obamacare? GOP Resisters,” by Michael Tomasky of Newsweek/Daily Beast. Tomasky writes that while media reports have focused on the problems of Healthcare.gov, not enough attention has been paid to the efforts by Republicans to obstruct the law. He wrote:
All across the country, Republican governors and insurance commissioners have actively and directly blocked efforts to make the law work. In August, the Obama administration announced that it had awarded contracts to 105 "navigators" to help guide people through their new predicaments and options. There were local health-care providers, community groups, Planned Parenthood outposts, and even business groups. Again-people and groups given the job, under an existing federal law, to help people understand that law.
What has happened, predictably, is that in at least 17 states where Republicans are in charge, a variety of roadblocks has been thrown in front of these folks. In Indiana, they were required to pay fees of $175. In Florida, which under Governor Rick Scott (who knows a thing or two about how to game the health-care system, you may recall) has been probably the most aggressive state of all here, the health department ruled that local public-health offices can't have navigators on their premises (interesting, because local public health offices tend to be where uninsured people hang out). In West Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, and other states, grantees have said no thanks and returned the dough after statewide GOP elected officials started getting in their faces and asking lots of questions about how they operate and what they planned to do. Tennessee issued "emergency rules" requiring their employees to be fingerprinted and undergo background checks.
America, 2013: No background checks to buy assault weapons. But you damn well better not try to enroll someone in health care.
I suspect in the weeks ahead, we will see more reporting on both story lines: how the administration mismanaged the rollout of the law and how Republicans have tried to ensure its failure. But let's not lose sight of consumers, whose lives will be directly affected by the act and what's happening now.
Some applicants may have proposed or indicated their plans to take over or buy out some of the smaller banks in existence; or even have had 'secret' talks for mergers. If such offers are part of the applicant's ‘mission’ to improve and reach out to the rural areas, including extending service to the ‘urban poor’, they deserve serious consideration
Soon after the closing date for receipt of applications for new banking licenses, D Subbarao, the then governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), stated that "not all eligible applicants may get the license". At that time, in the first week of July, he did not want to specify the number of licenses that the RBI may issue by March 2014. The only difference, after Dr Raghuram Rajan succeeded him is that now, chances are, licenses may be issued as early as January and not in March 2014 as was indicated at that time.
There are 26 applicants in the running. All the applications are being scrutinized by an External Committee, consisting of Dr Bimal Jalan, the former RBI governor, and he is assisted by a team consisting of Usha Thorat (former deputy governor of RBI), CB Bhave (former chairman of SEBI) and Dr Nachiket Mor (former executive of ICICI Bank).
The proposal to allow establishment of new banks was mooted way back in 2010 and it has taken almost three years to prepare the very exacting requirements that applicants will have to fulfil for serious consideration. As a result, only 26 applications have been received, as against the 100s that were received when such an issue came up more than a decade ago.
With the revised rules, which are realistic and practical, industrial houses, corporate bodies and others could submit proposals, as long as the criteria laid down were met.
As a sequel, the leading contenders are Tata Sons, Reliance Capital, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Shriram Capital, Bajaj Finserv and L&T Finance. Others who are just as serious and have good track record are the Department of Post, IFCI, UAE Exchange, LIC Housing, IDFC and JM Financial and Muthoot Finance. This does not exclude others like Religare, Janalakshmi, Indiabulls etc, who have their own specialized knowledge in the field.
It may be recalled that critieria for consideration of the application covered the need to have a minimum paid up capital of Rs500 crore; sound financial track record for 10 years; willingness to open at least 25% of its branches in unbanked rural areas and be in a position to start operations within 18 months. Foreign capital, if infused, should not exceed 49%. If foreign capital came through actual foreign banks to operate in India, within the 49% stipulation, they may be allowed, as long as their home country extended reciprocity for Indian banks to set up their branches in their country.
Without any doubt, the large business houses named above are serious to secure the licenses. Others like the Department of Posts are so well entrenched in the country through their own net work of post offices, it will be a cake walk for them to be operative within months of their acquiring the required clearances and complying with the need to set up an "official' banking arm, which could be simply attached to their post offices, preceded by recruitment of qualified and experienced banking staff.
However, the Finance Ministry has some reservations in this matter.
It appears, after submitting their application for a banking license,
India Post sought financial assistance to the extent of Rs1,900 crore to set up the commercial banking operation, if they got the license. For this, the Finance Ministry, has suggested that they need to get the Expenditure Finance Committee's (EFC) approval. Therefore, it looks like the ministry has shown its reluctance in allowing India Post to get into banking business. So far, we have no news as to the reaction of EFC and whether they would fully support the venture.
The other candidate with substantial overseas experience and connections in financial operation covers the UAE Exchange. They began as money exchange in 1980, in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and have build strong infrastructure with 328 branches in 20 states in the country. They have submitted strong plans to meet the increased branch requirements in five years after the license is received. If successful in obtaining the license, chances are that, later on, a local UAE bank may enter the scene as its partner! The bulk of the UAE Exchange business has been to handle expatriate Indian remittances to India from the Gulf countries, which runs into billions of dollars, each year.
Other applicants like IFCI, IDFC, LIC Housing, etc. too have financial experience and in operating in allied fields. Such conditions would apply to several others, who are also fellow applicants to get the banking license!
The point is that, this time, everyone of the applicants is well versed and has necessary credentials to set up a banking operation, given the opportunity. However, we are to recall that, the Raghuram Rajan Committee, in 2008 pointed out that "the Indian banking sector is fragmented and there are too many small uncompetitive players in the system".
This thought will take us to look at the prospect of RBI giving "conditional" licenses in 2014 to some of the applicants; in fact, we feel that this may be done in a phased manner!
We do not know what the applicants have stated in their "Mission Statement"! It is possible that there may be some who may have proposed, (or indicated) their plans to take over or buy out some of the smaller banks in existence; or even have had 'secret' talks for mergers! Who knows, there may be someone, who wants to buy out the several cooperative banks in the country, who are scattered all over the place!
If such offers are part of the applicant's "mission" to improve and reach out to the rural areas, including extending service to the "urban poor", they deserve serious consideration. How effectively and quickly these new licensees can replace the blood-sucking moneylenders in rural areas remains to be seen!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also 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.)