RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Public authorities must disclose and update information regularly suo moto

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

http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_C_2011_900911_15246_M_69045.pdf

Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/900911

 

Complainant                                      : CJ Karira

                                                                  Secunderabad,

                                                                 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

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Last date for filing I-T returns extended to 5th August

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.

 

You may also want to read...

How to easily file I-T returns online, free of cost

 

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COMMENTS

Nalin Patel

4 years ago

be informed that this time govt is charging 2 times the tax for above 20 lakh of income under the guise of AMT and AMT-C credit schedules, collecting tax in advance for future un certain income

Indulgent parents and unconcerned children!

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).

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COMMENTS

Anil Agashe

4 years ago

Here is an interesting feed back from my student Pranali
:sir to tell u the truth education loans r not really easily available.. i had applied for it.. but it was not approved saying the amount is too less.. so in the end i had to borrow money from my parents!
sir the bank which refused my loan application was none other than SBI..
i went b4 mba admission for a pre approvved loan.. they said come after admission.. when i went after admission they said u should have pre approved it
then they said we'll do something.. give all ur docs
i personally went and submitted the file to their Mumbai HO... after 2 months they said we cant process this loan as the amt is too low

REPLY

S BHASKARA NARAYANA

In Reply to Anil Agashe 4 years ago

I too agree with u. Wayback 15 years ago, my cousin, who is Dy. Director rank scientist, was denied Education loan to his daughter by SBI, but was sanctioned by Andhra Bank.

similarly, my uncle's son was denied loan then by SBI, on the plea that the parent's income will not service the interest of the loan.

All these abberations eminate from the operating Officer's whims and fancies but not following the rule book.

Anil Agashe

In Reply to S BHASKARA NARAYANA 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information. And you are right about whims and fancies of some officer who is not fit to be one!

Deepak Sholapurkar

4 years ago

If parents are expected to do every thing and if they do every thing what the children will do and learn?
I am talking not only about the education but in all the aspects of life.

Do not spoon feed the children, let them learn on there own. let them experience the life.
Without learning how to live the life they will be easy targets in the hostile market.

Nihar Mody

4 years ago

This one sentence tells you all:The psychology of parents works this way- they think they do not want their children to suffer the way they did as kids.

Nihar Mody

4 years ago

Baghban was not a movie..It is a real life scenario

Abhijit Gosavi

4 years ago

My parents didn't have to spend much on my education or that of my siblings (of course, every parent has to spend "some" money on the child's education), but me and my siblings have ensured that our parents are comfy in their retirement (they even travel abroad for pleasure and have seen places I haven't visited). It really depends on how you raise your children; we were always taught to value money and be grateful to those who toiled for us!

S Santhanam

4 years ago

I would like to disagree with the author on the following observations:
1. Author: 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!
In the absence of any emprical evidence it is incorrect to pass value judgments on the behaviour of children taking care of their parents in their old age. There are instances where children who could not be helped by parents did their studies well and neglected parents in their old age as they felt that their parents failed to take care of them during their studies.
2. Author: 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!
It is again a sweeping statement without any basis. Such observations from a teacher (Prof is also a teacher) is shocking and these are uncalled for.

REPLY

Anil Agashe

In Reply to S Santhanam 4 years ago

I have made both the statements from my experience. I have seen parents being neglected. The loan thing is also from my interactions with my students.

R Balakrishnan

4 years ago

Our generation ( 50's born)of middle class grew up in penury and some of us who made it ok in life want our children to be not wanting. At the same time, we also owe it to them to impart values and teach them the importance of money. Let them handle finances of the house in a budget. Tell them to keep accounts. And tell them to fit their needs within our means. The bigger issue is that today, the younger gen may not want to be burdened with looking after parents. So it is also important to secure ourselves financially. A conflict between emotions and practicality. Most cases, emotion wins and the parents suffer.
The worst thing for us is to become a burden on gen next. And living with them, will make both unhappy. It is a dilemma. Lucky are those that can provide for the children and for themselves.

REPLY

Anil Agashe

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 4 years ago

Absolutely Bala. We have to be financially independent of children and so should they be. Physically as we grow older we may have to dependent on them. That is not in our hands.

jaykayess

4 years ago

I beg to totally disagree with the fundamental thrust of Prof. Agashe's arguments. Many of these are blatant generalizations, based on a few stray cases he may have observed first hand. The harsh reality is that today, a basic degree (B.Com, B.A., B.Sc, and yes, even B.E.) is absolutely useless. I say this from first hand experience of my own daughter who just graduated with a B.Com, and all her batchmates.

The reason for this is complex - a combination of increasing population, current state of the job market, manifold rise in number of colleges and universities handing out degrees of varying quality, etc. This compels students to go for "higher" education. Unfortunately, what used to be termed as "higher" education a few years ago is no longer so high. An MBA is almost an entry level for a job in a reputed company.

The problem is compounded by the proliferation of MBA colleges - again of varying degrees of quality and reputation - who charge annual fees of several lakhs. Management education has become a BIG business. Surely Prof. Agashe knows exactly what I mean and he certainly knows more about it than me - after all, he is IN this business and a beneficiary of it!

So for a parent, especially in the segment described by Prof. Agashe (upper middle class), education is by far the no. 1 priority, and NO parent will view spending on education as an indulgence. Even though it has been commoditized somewhat, it is the still an asset that has long term value.

In our Indian culture, parents do NOT look for a RETURN on money spent on their kids' education. Even though the joint family is dying out, the concept of family wealth is alive and kicking. So spending on education is not viewed as investment; rather, it is viewed as insurance.

REPLY

Anil Agashe

In Reply to jaykayess 4 years ago

I completely agree that a degree is almost useless. But that should not be the case with Engineering degrees. But we send our children to wrong colleges it will happen.
MBA education is big business no doubt about that! But we don't benefit from it really. The remuneration for Visiting Faculties like me does not change for years and that is a fact. Some of these institutes spend less than 5% of their revenue on remuneration to faculty! Plethora of Management Institutes has brought down quality and this can be seen in number of vacant seats both in management and engineering. And let me tell you all MBAs are not worth the salaries they get. Students are not here for knowledge but only for a piece of paper.

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to jaykayess 4 years ago

Greetings. Well, what can one say, life is about contradictory views. As I said, our survey, which is the latest cover story of Moneylife shows that there are plenty of parents who think like you. So there is nothing to disagree about -- you have a view, others have a different view.
Also, it remains to be seen what happens to these parents if they dont have enough savings for their retirement. We have seen too many elders around us in their 60s and 70s who are lonely and alone and often without enough funds.
Companies who offer Reverse Mortgage products will also tell you that many children selfishly taunt parents who want spending money after 60 and want them to live a frugal, joyless existence so that their inheritance (flat/house) is intact without a loan burden!

Lets agree that we have different views on the subject!

jaykayess

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Yes, there will always be diversity of opinion, which is good, but I guess my disagreement was primarily with the somewhat judgmental tone taken by Prof. Agashe, suggesting that it is wrong for parents to want to pay for their kids education, without raising the question of whether or not they can even afford it.

Anil Agashe

In Reply to jaykayess 4 years ago

My point is make your children aware of how you are funding their education. Taking loan is asking them to take part of the financing responsibility. I have no problem if someone says I can afford it so I will do it. I hope they have enough money to live comfortably after retirement.

raj

4 years ago

Good article. Even at the school level today parents are willing to spend a lot for admissions and other yearly expenses including foreign vacations. No wonder kids grow up with expectations.

Sucheta Dalal

4 years ago

In our survey on parenting costs, I was shocked to find that many parents think it is their duty to educate children and also "settle" them in life -- for girls this means an education and a big fat wedding, complete with streedhan/dowry. For boys, it is even more - get them settled in business and a home - either the nice big one shared with parents or a separate one.

Thanks to such mollycoddling, we have seen "children" in their mid-40s with kids of their own, happily living off their parents pensions, in the house that pappa acquired and making no attempt to apply themselves to a job or career.

REPLY

jaykayess

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Sucheta, I don't find it at all shocking. Fundamental Indian values haven't changed that much despite all the westernization we see around us. Personally, I believe it is definitely the duty of the parents to educate their children (including so-called "higher" education like an MBA). As for weddings, streedhan, and houses, I believe that it should NOT be done merely due to social pressure. But if a parent can truly afford it, who are we to question how they spend their money?

Anil Agashe

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Absolutely true. What worries me is that this trend is very strong in the so called educated middle class families as well. I have heard comments like why should the children be made to buy their house with their money. We have done all that. They only need to earn to live their own life! We are going to leave them with a lot of assets! Well to do parents are the biggest de-motivation for today's youngsters!

Abhijit Gosavi

In Reply to Anil Agashe 4 years ago

Wow, I'm amazed to read this! In our times (I'm in early 40s), parents saw us through college (undergraduate degree), and that was it! After that, we were on our own, and that's how it should be. Even our grand-parents subscribed to this view, and so I'm not sure why parents have changed now! Are their social reasons for these changes?

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