In an important order, the Central Information Commission asked MCD to provide all information about banquet halls operating in the city, whether they are licensed and number of challans issued against them. This is the 44th 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, asked the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide all information about banquet halls operating in the city, whether they are licensed and number of challans issued against them to the applicant and also update the same on the MCD portal.
While giving this important judgement on 3 February 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, said, “The Commission feels that the citizen has brought up a very valid issue and it is surprising that MCD claims it does not have centralized information on the number of banquet halls in Delhi and how many are licensed. This is one of the basic duties of a Municipal Corporation.”
Delhi resident S Chandra sought information about banquet halls particularly in residential areas from MCD. Here is the information sought by him...
1. Whether the MCD has fixed norms for allowing operation of banquet halls in the areas falling within the municipal limits of Delhi? If so the same may be indicated. If the norms have not been fixed kindly intimate the time the norms are likely to be finalized.
2. Whether MCD has permitted for operation of banquet halls in residential areas? If yes, the conditions governing such authorization may be intimated.
3. Whether any license is issued to owners of banquet halls for operation of that? If so, please intimate the authority which issues the licenses and conditions on which license is issued.
4. List of banquet halls which have been granted permission by MCD to operate within the Municipal limits.
5. How many banquets halls are operating in the residential areas in municipal limits of Delhi?
6. How many banquets halls are operating in the residential areas in Municipal limits of Delhi without permission of the MCD and what action has been taken against the owners of those Banquet Halls during past one year?
7. How many banquets halls are operating in Shahdra South District? Please give the list of those ones.
8. What preventive steps have been taken by the concerned district authority to check operation of such unauthorized banquet Halls in the past one year?
9. What preventive action has been taken by concerned district authority to check operation of such unauthorized banquet halls in past one year? MCD is requested to indicate number of Banquet halls located in residential areas on roads having width less than 60 feet in Shahdra South District and are in operation in violation of judgments of various court orders. What action has been taken against the owners of those banquet Halls who are violating court orders during past one year?
10. MCD commissioner is requested to intimate the direction issued to the zonal officer (Shahdra South Zone) for taking action against the owners who have been violating the court orders during past one year.
Since the information sought was concerned with different PIO, the applicant received several replies. Here are the replies provided by various PIOs...
PIO/SE-II Shahdra South Zone replied as under:
In regard of query 1, it was stated that the development control norms are available in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 which is a public document and can be had from any book shop. In regard of queries no2 to 7 & 10 the list was provided as the copy is enclosed. In regard of query no8 the PIO replied that the action is being taken by the concerned department and in regard of query no9 the reply was that information is not available in this office.
Reply by PIO/Deputy Health Officer, Central Zone as under:
1. Banquet Halls are allowed in commercial and industrial areas.
2. Banquet halls are not permitted in residential area.
3. Health Department has not granted any license to any banquet hall in residential areas.
4. Not applicable.
5. No banquet hall is operating in residential areas in the Central Zone.
6. Reply as in query no5.
In regard of queries no. 7 to 10, it was stated that the information does not relate to the Health Department, Central Zone.
Reply by PIO/Deputy Health Commissioner, Shahadra North Zone:
In regard of queries no1 & 2 the information pertains to HQ. In regard of queries no3 to 6 as reply was given as by PIO, Central zone. In regard of queries no7, 9 & 10 the information does not relate to the Health Department of this zone.
In regard of query no 8 instructions were given to PHIs for during the prosecutions of unauthorized and unlicensed banquet halls time to time.
Reply by PIO/SE-I, South Zone, Green Park:
The information does not relate to the concerned department.
Chandra, not satisfied with the replies received from the PIOs, filed his first appeal with the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In an order, the FAA directed the PIOs to provide complete information on query nos8, 9 and 10 as the appellant was not satisfied.
Chandra, seeking a direction for the Commissioner, MCD, to provide complete and definite information in place of piece meal responses provided by Zonal officers, then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During a hearing, Mr Gandhi, the CIC, noted that in the traditional method of MCD it appears that 50 to 80 officers must have got involved in terms of transferring papers and initialling on them. The RTI application appears to have reached the 12 zones and the Health Department after being transferred multiple times, he observed.
The CIC said, “The information provided by Shahdara South Zone is very revealing since it shows that there are 38 banquet halls operating out of which 35 are without any license and the three which has been ad hoc registrations are in residential areas which the Dy. Health Officer Dr Ajay Handa states is not permissible."
“It is also revealing that in the one year it appears not a single challan has been issued in this zone for serving food in these banquet halls without a license. If the MCD does not wish to regulate this activity it would serve a social purpose better if it decided to remove all licensing norms. This might results in lesser contempt for the law,” the Commission said.
While allowing the appeal by Chandra, the CIC then directed Dr Handa, Deputy Health Officer of Shahdara South to collect the information from all the zones about the names and addresses of banquet halls, whether they are licensed and number of challans issued against them in 2009 and also put up the information on MCD website before 28 February 2010.
The Commission also asked the PIO to ensure that information about challans issued against unlicensed banquet hall will be updated every day. “The PIO will also ensure that the regulations for the banquet halls are put up on the website. This direction is being given and the MCD must comply with it in discharge of its obligation under Section 4 of the RTI Act,” Mr Gandhi said in his order.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003226
Appellant : S Chandra,
Respondent : 1. Harminder Singh
APIO & EE (HQ)
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Town Hall Chandani Chowk,
2. Pushkar Sharma
Shah South Zone,
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Kakardooma Court, New Delhi
3. Dr Hazarika
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Central Zone, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi
4. Dr Ajay Handa
PIO/Dy. Health Officer,
Shah, North Zone, MCD
Keshav Chowk, Shahdara, Delhi
5. Pradeep Khandelwal
South Zone, MCD
Green Park, New Delhi
A PIL by Midas Touch seeks action against SEBI for failing to regulate BSE and NSE regarding monitoring of compliance by listed companies. Despite recommendations from the Sahoo Committee, the market regulator has so far failed to take action against 2,048 companies and its promoters and directors
The Delhi High Court has issued notices to Union Government, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE) on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Midas Touch Investors Association. The PIL also seeks a probe against SEBI and the bourses by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for their inaction to initiate action against defaulting companies.
Midas Touch, in its instant writ petition has stated that SEBI as market regulator and both the exchanges, as first line of regulators have failed to perform their statutory duties. This has resulted in thousands of listed companies, their promoters and directors to get away with unfair practices without any statutory monetary penalty and penal action.
According to the PIL, over the years, over Rs58,000 crore of around one crore investors are blocked due to suspension of 1,450 companies by BSE and NSE.
India has one of the highest household savings but its investor population has shrunk from 20 million to 8 million in the past two decades of liberalisation and enactment of SEBI Act in 1992, notwithstanding the fact that the economy has done exceedingly well leaving increasing number of young people with money to invest. Bad administration by the regulator has eroded the faith of small investors in the securities market who have virtually stopped investing in it to the detriment of the economy, the PIL stated.
Midas Touch said it received over 14,000 grievances from investors on its portal, out of which about 2,000 were against 450 companies that were suspended by the stock exchanges for non-compliance of listing agreement. When Midas Touch took the grievances to the BSE and NSE, the first line of regulators, the bourses expressed their inability in resolving the complaints against suspended companies and advised the investor association to take up the matter with SEBI.
During a meeting between SEBI and Investors’ Associations, a Midas Touch representative on 7 December 2010 raised the issue. He stated that though suspension does not affect the company’s working, it has an adverse impact on shareholders since they cannot sell their shares on the exchange until suspension is revoked by the exchange or SEBI.
The market regulator formed a committee under the chairmanship of MS Sahoo, a whole-time member of SEBI to look into investor grievances against suspended companies. The committee was apprised that 1,845 companies listed at BSE and 203 listed at NSE were not in compliance of various clauses of the listing agreement. These included 425 active companies—comprising 60 listed on NSE and 365 on BSE—which were not suspended.
The Sahoo Committee recommended specific action under Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act to be taken against these companies and its promoters, directors, etc by NSE, BSE and SEBI, for non-compliance of listing agreement. It also recommended several measures for strengthening the monitoring system.
However, till date the recommendations of the Committee for taking action against 2,048 companies and its promoters and directors are not implemented. Since SEBI failed to provide any information about the action taken by the market regulator, BSE and NSE against these companies, Midas Touch filed a PIL in the high court.
The investor association has requested the high court to direct SEBI to take similar action under Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (SCRA), against all those defaulting companies, their promoters, directors and company secretaries which are listed at other exchanges but not at NSE and BSE and to frame regulations and implement an action plan for effective monitoring of companies which were listed at now de-recognised stock exchanges.
Nifty’s uptrend is still on the cards as long as it does not close below 5,905
The market managed to settle marginally in the green as the benchmarks pared early gains on nervousness ahead of the Union Budget, which is to be presented on 28th February. Nifty’s uptrend is still on the cards as long as it does not close below 5,905. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) reported a volume of 66.77 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 779:691.
The Indian market opened in the positive, tracking supportive global cues. Markets in the US settled higher on Tuesday as merger deals in the US have $158 billion in 2013 so far, twice the amount seen in the same period last year. The Asian pack was mostly higher in morning trade as global optimism improved investor sentiment.
The Nifty opened 26 points higher at 5,966 and the Sensex started off at 19,718, up 82 points over its previous close. The market hit its intraday high in initial trade itself with the Nifty going up to 5,971 and the Sensex rising to 19,742.
However, profit booking after two days of gains saw the indices coming off the highs in subsequent trade. The benchmarks dipped to their lows in noon trade on selling pressure from consumer durables, metals, fast moving goods and banking stocks. At the lows the Nifty touched 5,938 and the Sensex retracted to 19,620.
The Budget session of the Indian Parliament is set to begin tomorrow. The Railway Budget will be presented on 26th February, the Economic Survey of India on 27th February and the Union Budget for 2013-14 will be announced on 28 February 2013.
Select buying in oil & gas, realty and IT stocks helped the market recover from the lows. But volatility kept a cap on the gains with the indices hovering near their previous closing levels.
The market settled flat with a positive bias as nervousness set in ahead of the Union Budget, which is to be tabled next week. The Nifty added three points (0.06%) to 5,943 and the Sensex inched seven points (0.04%) higher to settle at 19,643.
The broader indices were mixed today. The BSE Mid-cap index fell 0.17% and BSE Small-cap index gained 0.36%.
The sectoral gainers were BSE Oil & Gas (up 1.70%); BSE Realty (up 0.77%); BSE IT (up 0.60%) and BSE TECk (up 0.29%). The top losers were BSE Consumer Durables (down 1.37%); BSE Metal (down 0.61%); BSE Capital Goods, BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 0.47%) and BSE Bankex (down 0.38%).
Eleven of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Reliance Industries (up 3.13%); Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (up 1.37%); Hero MotoCorp (up 1.26%); Coal India (up 1.12%) and GAIL India (up 0.99%). Tata Steel (down 1.75%); Jindal Steel & Power (down 1.47%); Cipla (down 1.32%); Bharti Airtel (down 1.04%) and State Bank of India (down 0.98%) were the main losers.
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Bajaj Finserv (up 6.65%) and Oracle Financial Services Software (up 4.49%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were— Jaiprakash Power Ventures (down 6.39%) and Unitech (down 2.75%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—7Seas Technologies (up 20%) and Maharashtra Scooters (up 17.33%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—LGB Forge (down 19.90%) and Venus Power Ventures India (down 19.98%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 20 stocks settled in the positive. The major gainers were DLF (up 3.57%); Ambuja Cements (up 3.46%); BPCL (up 3.27%); RIL (up 3.19%) and HCL Technologies (up 2.48%). The key losers were Tata Steel (down 2.13%); IDFC (down 1.90%); JSPL (down 1.76%); Bharti Airtel (down 1.40%) and Cipla (down 1.34%).
Markets in Asia closed mostly in the positive, on signs of an improvement in the global economic outlook. Bank of Korea Governor Kim Choong Soo said that optimism in the global economy would help the export-driven nation exceed its growth forecast this year.
The Shanghai Composite advanced 0.60%; the Hang Seng climbed 0.71%; the Jakarta Composite gained 0.70%; the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.40%; the Seoul Composite surged 1.95% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.86% higher. Bucking the trend, the KLSE Composite lost 0.11%.
At the time of writing, the key European indices were marginally in the positive and the US stock futures were trading higher.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of stocks totalling Rs181.57 crore on Tuesday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net buyers of shares aggregating Rs24.68 crore.
Government-owned exploration and refining major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is in talks to buy Videocon's 10% stake in a giant gas field off Mozambique. ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state explorer, and Oil India (OIL) are together negotiating for the stake for which Videocon is reportedly seeking at least $3 billion. Videocon closed 0.83% lower at Rs191.60 on the NSE.
Domestic tractor major Escorts had announced a partnership with Italian company BCS SpA to distribute and sell the speciality Ferrari brand of tractors in India. The first product being launched under the partnership is a 26 HP model that has all four equal sized wheels, an all-time 4-wheel drive and oscillating chassis system suited for use in vineyards and orchards in India. The stock gained 0.78% to close at Rs65 on the NSE.
State-run Power Finance Corporation has launched tax free bonds issue worth Rs100 crore, which would be utilised for lending purposes, debt servicing and working capital requirements. The issue, which opened on Monday, has an option to retain over-subscription up to the residual shelf limit of Rs3,890.25 crore. The stock closed 1.61% down at Rs214.55 on the NSE.