A Pension Trust controlled and substantially financed by the government is a Public Authority under the RTI Act. This is the 21st in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC, that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
A Pension Trust controlled and substantially financed by the government is a Public Authority as defined by Section 2 (h) (i) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, ordered the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) Employees Terminal Benefit Fund-2002, to appoint a Public Information Officer (PIO) and suo moto disclose information under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
“The Pension Trust is a public authority according to the definition given in Section 2(h)(i) of the RTI Act. The Pension Trust is directed to appoint a PIO and First Appellate Authority before 31 March 2010. The Commission directs the Pension Trust to ensure that it meet its obligations to suo moto disclose information under Section 4 of the RTI Act by 30 April 2010,” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order dated 26 February 2010.
New Delhi resident SK Choudhary, on 15 April 2009 sought information from the PIO of Delhi Transco (erstwhile DVB) about the Pension Trust. He sought information about...
a) Copy of documents in relation to formation of Pension Trust.
b) The procedure to collect funds from successor entities of DVB in lieu of pensionary benefits which need to be paid to the employees on and after superannuation.
c) The status of funds in the Pension Trust at the time of unbundling of DVB.
d) The number of pensioners at the time of unbundling of DVB.
e) The number of pensioners as on current date and the total available cash in the Pension Trust.
f) Whether all distribution companies are contributing the prescribed amount towards pensionary benefits of the erstwhile DVB employees.
g) Action taken by the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to make up for the shortfall in funds of the Pension Trust.
The PIO did not reply to the RTI. However, through a written submission, he mentioned that DVB Employees Terminal Benefits Fund-2002 (ETBF) the Pension Trust which was not under the administrative control of the department and therefore he was unable to provide information to the appellant.
On 27 April 2009, the PIO, under Section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, transferred the application to manager of the Pension Trust. KG Vishwanathan, the manager of DVB ETBF-2002 stated that he received the RTI application only on 31 August 2009.
During a hearing, he told the Commission that ETBF-2002 has taken an opinion from standing counsel and submitted it before the Board of Trustees. The opinion of the Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG) was also obtained which advised that DVB ETBF-2002 is not a public authority, Mr Vishwanathan said.
When asked about the funding received by the Trust from the government, he said the DVB, a GNCTD undertaking, had provided Rs443.10 crore and the Delhi government provided one time funding of Rs886.00 crore to the Trust. He also accepted that the Trust is using an office provided by Delhi Transco.
In an interim order on 5 January 2010, Mr Gandhi asked the manager to submit audited income and expenditure statements and the balance sheets from the inception of DVB ETBF-2002 until present to the Commission to determine whether it is public authority.
During a hearing on 26 February 2010, the Commission said it received the documents from the manager, of ETBF-2002 and the main issue before it is whether the Pension Trust is a public authority within the ambit of the RTI Act or not.
Section 2(h) of the RTI Act defines public authority as…
2(h) "public authority" means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted-
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
(c) by any other law made by State Legislature;
(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any-
(i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
(ii) non-government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government;
Mr Vishwanathan also submitted a copy of the opinion given by ASG Parag Tripathi on which the Trust has relied to refuse information. The ASG has mentioned Section 3(d) of the Tripartite Agreement under which the Trust was formed which states:
3(d) The government shall create a Pension Fund in the form of a trust and the pensionary benefits of absorbed employees shall be paid out of such Pension fund.
1)The Principal Secretary (Power) of the GNCT of Delhi shall be the chairperson of the Board of Trustees which shall include representatives of the Departments of finance, personnel, labour, the employees and experts in the relevant field to be nominated.
2)The procedure and the manner in which pensionary benefits are to be sanctioned and disbursed from the Pension Fund shall be determined by the government on recommendation of the Board of Trustees.
3) The government/DVB shall discharge their pensionary liability by paying in lump sum a one-time payment to the Pension Fund Trust the pension or service gratuity and retirement gratuity for the service rendered till the date of transfer on the DVB employees in the successor entities.
4) The manner of sharing the financial liability on account of payment of pensionary benefits by the successor entities shall be determined by the government.
5) The arrangements hereunder shall be applicable to the existing pensioners and to the existing employees on their superannuation in the new entities and shall not apply to the employees directly recruited by the new entities for whom it shall devise its own pension scheme and make arrangements for funding and disbursing the pensionary benefits.
6) The balance of provident fund standing at the credit of the absorbed employees on the date of their absorption in the new entities shall be transferred to the new provident fund Account of the employees to be retained and operated by the Trust.
According to the ASG, the Pension Trust caters to no public function or purpose and it is exclusively maintained and run for the benefit of its members. The Commission said it does not find merit in this argument. Whether a body performs public functions or for public purpose is not a criterion to decide whether it is a Public Authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
Mr Gandhi said, the Commission feels that given that the Pension Trust provides terminal benefits to government servants, it certainly performs a public function, though this matter is not the decisive criteria to determine whether DVB ETBF is a Public Authority.
“...from the documents on records it appears that out of ten members of the Board of Trust, five persons are appointed by the government ex-officio. The Principal Secretary (Power) is the chairperson of the Pension Trust (as per the Tripartite Agreement); chairman & MD, Delhi Transco, Principal Secretary (Finance), Secretary (Law) and Secretary (Labour) are the four other ex-officio members of the Pension Trust. Therefore five of the ten members of the Board owe their positions on the board due to their nomination by the government. Thus it can certainly be stated that the government is in control of the Board of Trustees of the Pension Trust through its nominees,” Mr Gandhi noted.
In addition the Pension Trust has received Rs860 crore as one-time corpus from the GNCTD and Rs443.10 crore from DVB taking the total funding it received from the government to Rs1,303.1 crore. “According to the balance sheet on 31 March 2008, Rs1,295.5 crore is the total amount available with the Pension Trust. This mean the one-time amount given by the GNCTD alone is more than 66% of the amount now available with the Pension Trust. Therefore, the Commission finds that the GNCTD substantially finances the Pension Trust," the Commission said.
The CIC, in its order said that it comes to the conclusion that the Pension Trust is controlled and also substantially financed by the government and thus the Pension Trust is a Public Authority as defined by Section 2 (h)(i) of the RTI Act.
“...the Pension Trust is a Public Authority according to the definition given in section 2(h)(i) of the RTI Act. The Pension Trust is directed to appoint a PIO and First Appellate Authority before 31 March 2010. The DVB ETB Fund is directed to provide the information to the Complainant before 15 April 2010 with a copy to the Commission,” the order said.
It further added, “...it appears that most of the information sought by the complainant is information that should be suo moto disclosed by the respondent in accordance with its mandatory obligations under Section 4 of the RTI Act. The Commission directs the Pension Trust to ensure that it meet its obligations to suo moto disclose information under Section 4 of the RTI Act by 30 April 2010. A compliance report in this regard must be sent to the Commission before 7 May 2010.”
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2009/001141/6992
Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2009/001141
Complainant : SK Choudhary
New Delhi- 110058.
Respondent 1) : KV Krishna Kumar
Public Information Officer & DGM(HR)
Delhi Transco Limited,
Pension Trust, GNOCTD,
Shakti Sadan, Kotla Road,
Respondent 2) : KG Vishwanathan
Delhi Vidyut Board ETBF- 2002 (Pension Trust)
RPH Office Complex,
New Delhi - 110002
The BSE Sensex first crossed 20,000 in October 2007 and then several times thereafter. In the past, whenever it crossed 20,000, it couldn’t sustain the trend. Will Sensex be lucky this time? We describe what happened on each occasion the Sensex crossed 20,000
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex index crossed 20,000, for the first time in more than two years. While bullish investors are excited, the Sensex has found to hard to sustain the 20,000 level earlier.
The first time Sensex crossed 20,000 was on 29 October 2007. This was the first major milestone for Indian markets and even prompted nationwide celebrations. The CNBC staff decked themselves with hats and decorated the office with banners, with Udayan Mukherjee hugging his computer to mark the occasion. However, the euphoria didn’t last long. It was an intermittent and choppy trend, and went above and below 20,000 only a handful of times and this sideways movement lasted a few days before trending downwards.
On 26 December 2007, two months later, it crossed the milestone again, and hit a life-time high of 21,206 on 10 January 2008. This sparked off belief that Dalal Street will sustain the trend this time. Again, it wasn’t meant to be. Though this trend was longer than the first one, it lasted just a few weeks. The Sensex started trending downwards and on 16 January 2008, it crossed below 20,000. Indeed, in the next few days, the market simply crashed like a pack of cards and on January 22nd even hit the lower circuit at 15,332. A global financial crash ensued and by October 2008, Sensex was down to 7,697 on an intraday basis. It would be a long time before it would hit 20,000 again.
In fact, the Sensex wouldn’t hit 20,000 until nearly two years later, on 21 September 2010 when it crossed the threshold and mostly trended above psychological level for the next two and half months, supported by money gushing in from the foreign investors. Also, unlike the first two trends, this one held on longer—nearly three months—and resuscitated hopes that this could be third time lucky for the Sensex. However, once again, the trend wouldn’t sustain. After just five trading days of hitting the intermediary high of 21,109, the benchmark dipped below the milestone on 16 November 2010. Then the movement was intermittent and soon fell off after 7 January 2011. Soon, Sensex was pushed down by the headwinds of poor economic growth rising interest rates and Euro crisis. It has taken more than two years to cross 20,000 until today.
Today, the Sensex crossed 20,000 again but it has closed at 19,986.82. Clearly, there are sellers at every rally even though it would seem that investors are pouring money onto emerging markets. One difference between this time and the earlier occasions is valuation. The Sensex was valued at 26 times its forward PE in January 2008, at 19 times its forward PE in 2010 and only 16 times now. On the other hand, the market is factoring in a lot of positives such as a rate cut in January by the Reserve Bank, higher economic growth, a growth-oriented budget and strong earnings growth in 2014. If all these fall in place Sensex will sustain 20,000 this time but it’s a big if.
Under the swap arrangement, a bank can buy US dollars up to its eligible swap limit from the RBI and further sell the same amount of dollars at the prevailing market rates for swaps of a similar tenor
Mumbai: With an aim to help the country’s exporters get better credit, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a special scheme to allow banks refinance their export credit positions through a dollar-rupee swap facility of up to $6.5 billion, reports PTI.
While the individual limits of banks for availing this facility would be intimated to them separately, the RBI said that the swaps for rupee refinance of export credit of all the banks together would be capped at $6.5 billion (about Rs35,420 crore).
Announcing the facility, the RBI said “scheduled banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks—RRBs) will have the option to access rupee refinance to the extent of the swap with the Reserve Bank under a special export credit refinance facility”.
The special export credit refinance facility—US Dollar-Rupee swap—will support incremental pre-shipment export credit in foreign currency (PCFC) and would be available to all scheduled banks, excluding RRBs.
Banks can tap this facility for a period of over five months, from 21st January till 28 June 2013 for fixed tenor of three or six months.
Under the swap arrangement, a bank can buy US dollars up to its eligible swap limit from the RBI and further sell the same amount of dollars at the prevailing market rates for swaps of similar tenor.
“At the end of the swap term, the bank will exchange with the Reserve Bank, the US Dollars against the rupees,” the central bank said while adding that its decision on pricing of the swap would be final.
This swap facility, RBI said, has been done “with a view to further enhancing the flow of credit to the export sector”.
RBI said the banks have the option to access rupee refinance under the special export credit refinance facility for which promissory notes will need to be fully backed by eligible export bills under the PCFC.