RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Public authority must access information about PF facilities of sub-contractors

The CIC said it was necessary for the principal employer to access information regarding the compliance by the contractors or other workers working on its site. This is the 121st 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) in the Department of Space (DS) at Bengaluru-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to access the information regarding the provident fund (PF) status of sub-contractors and the sub-sub-contractors workers of Premier Explosives and provide it to the appellant.

 

While giving this judgement on 26 August 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, “...all public authorities have special duty to ensure that laws are adhered to by their contractors and sub-contractors. The information regarding the (PF) facilities being given to the sub-contractors is certainly information which can be accessed by the public authority as per the requirement of the law.”

 

Nellore resident Notam Mohan, on 5 May 2010, sought information regarding works or services carried out by the sub-contractors, sub-sub-contractors of Premier Explosives from the PIO of DS at the ISRO, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

In his reply, the PIO stated, information sought (by Mohan) was not held by the office and the same does not come under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005. Further, the PIO provided a list of sub-contractors and subsequently asked Mohan to contact Premier Explosives for details of works and services provided by the contractors.

 

Not satisfied with the reply, Mohan then filed his first appeal stating that he believes that the PIO's claim of Section 2(f) and the company being not under the purview of RTI Act was not reasonable. There was no mention of any order passed by the First Appellate Authority (FAA).

 

Mohan then approached the Commission. In his second appeal, he maintained that his allegations of having received only part, misleading and false information.

 

Subsequently, as per the suggestion from the PIO, on 20 June 2011, Mohan sought information from Premier Explosives. However, the company replied saying that RTI Act was not applicable to Premier Explosives.

 

During the hearing through video conferencing before Mr Gandhi, Mohan reiterated his demand for information about the sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors of Premier Explosives who are carrying out the work at the site of the public authority (ISRO).

 

The PIO stated that the DS does not keep information about the sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors and this was also not required as per law.

 

Mohan contended that as far as payment of provident fund (PF) is concerned the public authority is responsible for ensuring that PF is paid to all the workers working in the premises of the public authority and as a principal employer, it is the responsibility of the public authority to monitor this.

 

The PIO stated that since the department does not hold the information, he cannot be asked to provide it as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act.

 

Section 2(f) of the RTI Act defines,

“information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”. 

 

Mr Gandhi said, “It is necessary that the principal employer must access information regarding the compliance by the contractors or other workers working on the site. The Commission would here like to point out that all public authorities have special duty to ensure that laws are adhered to by their contractors and sub-contractors. The information regarding the PF facilities being given to the sub-contractors is certainly information which can be accessed by the public authority as per the requirement of the law.”

 

While allowing the appeal, the Commission then directed the PIO to access the information regarding the PF status of the sub-contractors and the sub-sub-contractors workers and provide it to Mohan before 20 September 2011.

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2010/001353/SG/14305

http://rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_A_2010_001353_SG_14305_M_65662.pdf

Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2010/001353/SG

 

                                                                  

Appellant                                            : Notam Mohan

                                                               Nellore, Andhra Pradesh                                     

 

Respondent                                        : S Satish

                                                              PIO & Director

                                                             ISRO-Department of Space

                                                             Antariksh Bhawan,

                                                             New Bel Road, Bangalore

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Not authorised to prescribe drugs? Medicare pays anyway

Massage therapists, athletic trainers, interpreters and others who aren't allowed to write prescriptions apparently issued at least 417,000 under Medicare

Hundreds of thousands of times each year, Medicare pays for prescriptions purportedly written by massage therapists, athletic trainers, interpreters and others who aren’t allowed to prescribe drugs, according to a new federal report.
 

The study released today by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, identified more than 417,000 such prescriptions paid for by Medicare’s prescription drug program in 2009. The tally included initial prescriptions and refills dispensed by pharmacies.
 

The inspector general found nearly 30,000 prescriptions for painkillers and other easily abused drugs that appeared to be prescribed by individuals who had no authority to do so. Such prescribing could “endanger patients” and “may also contribute to the prescription drug abuse problem in our nation,” the report said.
 

The cost of all the questionably prescribed drugs came to $31.6 million, according to the study. Although just a small fraction of total drug spending in the program, known as Part D, it raises questions about how closely Medicare tracks the validity of prescriptions or investigates those that appear suspicious.
 

“In a prescription drug program like Part D, $31 or $32 million may not sound like a lot, but every little bit adds up,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “We don’t have the money in Medicare to be wasting for this area.”
 

Carper’s panel has scheduled a hearing this afternoon on prescription abuses in the program, which cost the government $62 billion last year.
 

The report is the second in days in which the inspector general faulted Medicare for its lax oversight of the program. On Thursday, the IG said it had identified more than 700 doctors with highly questionable and potentially dangerous prescribing patterns and called on Medicare to do more to investigate them.
 

It was not clear from the new report whether the drugs were actually prescribed by the massage therapists and others or if a pharmacy had mistakenly attributed drugs to them that were legitimately prescribed by others. Another possible explanation is that the prescriptions were fraudulent.
 

The inspector general identified prescribers and their specialties using a federal database that includes unique identification numbers, addresses and practice information reported by providers, including their primary specialties.
 

Analysts tried to exclude those who may have had authority to prescribe drugs despite appearances. For example, someone who identified himself or herself primarily as a dietician also may be a licensed physician.
 

In its response to the study, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said some of the examples cited by the report may be due to weaknesses in the federal database relied upon by the inspector general. CMS said it is working to shore up the database, but noted it relies on health professionals to keep their information up-to-date.
 

Even so, the agency said it would ask its fraud contractor to examine the issue and it would investigate the examples found by the inspector general.
 

“We have already launched several efforts to address these vulnerabilities, such as an intervention program in an area of high drug abuse and better data analyses to detect patterns of fraud and abuse,” an agency spokesman said in an email to ProPublica. “We agree with the OIG recommendations and are evaluating next steps to continue improving our oversight of Part D.”
 

The inspector general’s office said its analysts did not contact providers to ask if they had actually prescribed the drugs.
 

The report highlights, but doesn’t name, a Florida dietician as having ordered about 2,600 prescriptions for 165 patients.
 

ProPublica used Medicare data it had previously obtained to identify a Florida dietician with a similar tally in 2009, the same year studied by the inspector general. Rocio Garcia, a dietician at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, said she’s never prescribed a drug: “I can’t. I’m not a doctor.”
 

“I don’t know what to make of this,” Garcia said. “How could they link my name to [the prescriptions] if I’m not a doctor?”
 

To make sure that payments are accurate, the inspector general said Medicare should require the private insurers that administer Part D to verify that a provider has authority to prescribe drugs before paying for them.
 

Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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Strike at Bajaj Auto’s Chakan plant continues for 2nd day

The union's demands include 25% wage hike, permanent employment for contractual workers, reinstatement of some suspended employees and bringing back to the Chakan plant those transferred outside

Production at Bajaj Auto's Chakan plant near Pune remained crippled today as the agitation by company’s nearly 2,000 employees over wage revision and other demands continued for the second day.

 

“Our agitation continues and production remains crippled even today as the employees have not gone for work demanding wage revision,” Bajaj Auto union sources said.

 

They also said there were no indications from the management about holding talks to resolve the issue so far.

 

“We will continue our agitation as long as our demand for wage revision and better work conditions at the plant are not met. Bajaj management has so far not invited us for talks,” sources said.

 

Bajaj Auto officials were not available for comment.

 

The plant has 925 permanent workers, besides 1,000 temporary and contractual employees and trainees. These 1,000 workers are also demanding permanent employment.

 

The union's demands include 25% wage hike, permanent employment for contractual workers, reinstatement of some suspended employees and bringing back to the Chakan plant those transferred outside.

 

It is also demanding that workmen be given an option to subscribe to 500 equity shares of the Bajaj Auto at a discounted price of Re1 per share.

 

According to Bajaj Auto, it had earlier received a notice from the workmen's union—Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana—stating that they propose to stop work at Chakan plant from the morning of 28 June 2013.

 

As on 31 March 2013 the Chakan plant has the capacity to produce 1.2 million motorcycles, including Pulsar, Avenger, Ninja and KTM brands annually.

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