Disclosures in accordance with Section (4) of the RTI Act are crucial to ensure transparency and accountability in public authorities, which would reduce the load of RTI Applications being filed, the CIC said. This is the 145th 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 a complaint, directed the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) to publish and regularly update its 16 manuals on its website as mandated under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving this judgement on 20 October 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “When public authorities do not fulfil their obligations under Section (4) of the RTI Act, citizens have no way but to seek information under Section (6), which in turn becomes a cost for the citizens as well as the government.”
Secunderabad (Andhra Pradesh) resident CJ Karira, filed a complaint under section 18 of the RTI Act stating that the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), which is a public authority as per the Act, has not published its manuals which should be published in pursuance of its obligations under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Act.
The RTI Act 2005, under Section 4 (1)(b) mandates that all public authorities shall suo moto disclose information by publishing the same under 16 manuals.
On perusal of the website of the Pharmacy Council of India, the Bench headed by Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, found that the public authority had failed to publish the said manuals.
This was in gross violation of the provisions of the Act which reads as under:
"4(1) (b) publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,-
(i) The particulars of its organisation, functions and duties;
(ii) The powers and duties of its officers and employees;
(iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability;
(iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;
(v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;
(vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control;
(vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof;
(viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public;
(ix) a directory of its officers and employees;
(x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
(xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
(xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
(xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it;
(xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;
(xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use;
(xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers;
(xvii) such other information as may be prescribed; and thereafter update these publications every year;"
Mr Gandhi said, "Public Authorities were not only under an obligation to publish these manuals within 120 days of the enactment of the Act but also to update these manuals at regular intervals or at least once a year. It is pertinent to mention here that the Council had failed to fulfil either of its obligations under the Act even after five years of its coming into effect, thereby expressing its refusal to abide by the law so enacted. Obligations under section (4) were to be fulfilled by 12 October 2005. Such lackadaisical approach defeats the purpose of the legislation enacted for the welfare of the masses and to usher in transparency in the functioning of government institutions."
After receiving the complaint, the Bench contact the Council over telephone and was assured that the manuals would be published within 15 days’ time. The Bench, later perused the website of the Council and observed that the manuals have since been published.
Mr Gandhi noted that the RTI Act envisions that all citizens shall receive information primarily by suo moto disclosures by various public authorities as prescribed by section (4) of the act. It further envisages that citizens would be required to specifically ask for information under section (6) only in a few cases.
"However, when public authorities do not fulfill their obligations under section (4), citizens have no way but to seek information under section (6), which in turn becomes a cost for the citizens as well as the government. Disclosures in accordance with Section (4) of the RTI Act are crucial to ensure transparency and accountability in public authorities. This would reduce the load of RTI Applications being filed with each public authority as information would be freely available to citizens and they would not have to apply for it," the CIC said.
While allowing the complaint, the Bench gave following directions to the Council...
1. The manuals published in pursuant of section 4 (1) (b) of the Act, shall be updated regularly and necessary Standing orders shall be issued in this regard to the concerned officers.
2. The manuals shall be available as hard copy in the office of the CPIO.
3. Manual (xi) should be itemized and the report must be for the previous 2 years and there should also be a report on current budget estimates as per manual
4. A sign board of appropriate dimension shall be installed, mentioning name(s), designation(s), contact details, including the office address/room number, availability hours and telephone numbers of the central Public Information Officer(s), Central Assistant Public Information Officer(s) and First Appellate Authority, as the case may be, who have been notified under the RTI act 2005 (in case of a change of PIO or Appellate Authority, the sign board will be updated within ten days of the said change.) Information regarding the requisite fees to be paid under various provisions of the RTI Act 2005, modes of payment and the office where such fee will be accepted. Information regarding information Handbook/manuals published under section 4 (1) (b) of the act; their location and time when they can be accessed should be also mentioned on the board. The exact link/URL to the page on the website of the college/ department where the information handbook can be viewed will also be mentioned. No acronym/abbreviation should be used. This information shall be inscribed both in English and Hindi, and shall be installed at a location having maximum public view. This will be maintained by the head of the public authority/ head of institution as the case may be, or the officers so directed by him in writing, so long as the RTI act is in force.
5. The RTI link on the website should read as "Right to Information Act 2005".
The above directions shall be complied by the 30 November 2011, the CIC said.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/900911/15246
Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/900911
Complainant : CJ Karira
Andhra Pradesh- 500 026
Respondent : Registrar - cum- Secretary,
Pharmacy Council of India.
Combined Council's Building Road
Aiwan - E - Ghalib Marg,
New Delhi - 110 002
Due to extra load on the e-filing website, several taxpayers could not file their returns. This made the finance ministry to extend the last date for filing I-T returns to 5th August
The finance ministry has extended the due date for filing income tax (I-T) returns for assessment year 2013-14 (FY2012-13) to 5th August from 31st July. This means, you can file your I-T returns for FY2012-13 until 5th August.
The Ministry, in a notification said, "Due to large number of taxpayers accessing e-filing website on due date of filing, some cases of taxpayers not being able to access the e-filing portal have been reported. These problems are primarily due to network constrains of the local internet service providers (ISPs). However, as a measure of taxpayers’ convenience, it has been decided to extend the due date of filing of returns to 5 August, 2013 from 31 July 2013."
Earlier, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) made it e-fling mandatory for an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) if his or its total income exceeds Rs5 lakh. Till last year, the same was mandatory for individuals having salaried income of more than Rs10 lakh.
According to finance ministry, this year there is an unprecedented surge in number of returns being filed online. As of 30th July, 92.03 lakh taxpayers have filed their I-T returns online. This is 46.8% higher than the online returns filed during same period last year.
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Parents want to give their children the best of everything especially education. Children, on the other hand, want everything without pausing to think what sacrifices their parents have to make to give them all that they desire!
In an induction program for fresh batch of MBA students I asked them if they had talked about the cost of this course for two years. A day student would need roughly Rs4 lakh including fees; while a hostelite would end up spending at least Rs6 lakh in a city like Pune.
Most responded by saying that they had not discussed this with parents at all; some said they had-the parents had assured them that they have the money to finance them. I then asked them how many of them had taken an education loan to cover the fees-the response was huge. The very few, who had worked in the past, were going to pay for the course from their own savings!
Most students have an attitude that it is their parents’ responsibility to pay for their higher studies, which is much more expensive than graduation. Fresh engineers, whose parents have already spent over a lakh per year as engineering fees, come to business schools instead of joining jobs and spending on their post graduation on their own.
I asked them why they had not worked after engineering and earned and saved and then join MBA. I did not get any specific answer. While I got a number of strange replies including, “I did not actually like engineering but somehow completed it!” and “I did not get campus placement so decided to pursue MBA!” or “I want to finish my education before taking a job”.
This shows complete lack of concern for parents and I am sure parents of such children must have sacrificed a lot for paying for their children’s education. The fault doesn’t lie completely with children- parents too are to be blamed. They probably feel they do all this to fulfill the aspirations of their children. It is important for parents to make their children realize the amount of hardships they have undergone to educate them. Many spend their retirement funds and are left without enough money for a comfortably post retirement period. After spending all the money and energy of building children’s lives, one hears horror stories of how children refuse to look after the same parents later on! Parents must clearly tell their children the amount they can afford to spend on education, marriage and career building. They must ask the children to partially finance their education by taking education loan that they must repay once they start earning!!
Today, education loans are available more easily than before. I have observed that children from well to do families who get into so called ‘prestigious colleges’ take education loans! This could be because the IT returns filed by their parents do not show the real income and hence taking a loan is a camouflage! Also, some do this to get tax breaks for these loans.
I have come across two cases of girls who took loans because they wanted to study abroad and promised their parents and they would repay loans on their own. It is a matter of pride for the parents that both these girls are actually doing this. We need to have more with this spirit.
The psychology of parents works this way- they think they do not want their children to suffer the way they did as kids. They aim at providing everything to their children that they lacked in their own childhood days. To an extent this is fine but parents should realize that they cannot indulge in spending money when you actually do not have it! The fact is that today’s youngsters are demanding and getting much more than the previous generation and still they are unhappy and cribbing all the time!!
It is high time the parents discussed money matters frankly with their children. My experience says that children understand even at a young age, if explained properly. My son, when 5-6 years old, once asked me why we did not have a VCR at our home. I honestly told him that I cannot afford it and that I have no money to buy one! He said get the money from the bank. I then explained to him-one has to first put money in the bank and then only, one can withdraw it. I was glad that he understood and never mentioned the VCR again! This is what convinced me that children can understand.
The children we are talking about here are much older and it is a shame that they show no concern about money but expect it as a right.
I urge parents and children to please wake up and look at reality. As things stand and as they are likely to pan out in the next few years, it is clear that even after spending so much money, getting a well-paying job isn’t guaranteed-the pay back is going to be long drawn. You must first find out if you can afford the education you plan to give to your children and the return that you expect from this investment. Learn to say no when you know you cannot afford something that your children want and understand that there is nothing wrong in asking your children to either self finance their higher education or make them take a loan for partial expenses-you will still finance food, travel, phone, internet and other expenses!
Do not give a damn to what people will say! You should be proud of your children for having the decency to self-finance their education or taking a loan and the responsibility of repaying it! At least you won’t be left penniless for days when these very children show you the door.
(Prof Anil Agashe teaches at Symbiosis and other management schools in Pune).