RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: RAW does not know if memoirs of its first chief exist

The applicant alleged that the memoirs written by RN Kao, the founder of RAW, are in possession by certain members of the agency. The PIO merely cited exemption, which was overruled by the CIC. This is the 104th 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) of the Cabinet Secretariat to provide the information sought by the appellant about the memoirs of RN Kao, the first chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and if, however, the allegation was false, the PIO will state this in his reply.


While giving this judgement on 22 July 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The appellant has sought information on ‘steps taken by RAW to establish organizational control over the memoirs of RN Kao’ currently in the personal possession of members of the Bajpai-Tripathi clan in the RAW. If the allegation is false, the PIO will only have to state this. If, however, the allegation is not false the PIO would state whether any steps have been taken or not.”


New Delhi resident Nisha Priya Bhatia, on 21 June 2010 sought information regarding the status of memoirs written by the first chief of RAW, from the PIO of the Cabinet Secretariat. Here is the information she sought under the RTI (Right to Information) Act...


Certified copy of the document detailing steps taken by the RAW to establish organizational control over the above-mentioned memoirs of Shri RN Kao currently in the personal possession of members of the Bajpai-Tripathi clan in the RAW.


Citing exemption from furnishing the information the PIO in his reply stated, “The requisite information pertains to Intelligence and Security Organisation under the Cabinet Secretariat mentioned at Sr No2 of the Second Schedule, which is exempted from the purview of the RTI Act, 2005 vide statutory bar of sub-section (1) of Section 24 (subject to the conditions stipulated therein) of the Act except on the grounds of allegations of human rights violation and corruption. The averment made in para 4 of your application is presumptive in nature. Moreover the information sought for, neither falls under the ambit of human rights violation, nor of corruption”.


Bhatia, then filed an appeal before the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In her first appeal, she stated, “It is most respectfully submitted that the information I seek pertains to an act of corruption where a few members of the organisation have unauthorized established control over volumes of memoirs written by the founder member of the RAW, Shri RN Kao—possibly with eyes on commission and fame that would ensue from their publication at a time considered appropriate by these officials—when there may be no other claimants to compete with them.”


The FAA, while upholding the PIO’s reply said, “In your grounds for appeal, you have also mentioned that there was apprehension of corruption in the matter. This averment in your appeal is devoid of any merit because you have failed to point out any specific instance of ‘alleged corruption’. The law cannot proceed on assumptions.”


Not satisfied with the PIO’s reply and order of the FAA, the appellant (Bhatia) then approached the Commission. In her second appeal she stated, “Shri RN Kao, the first chief of the RAW and its founding father left behind his memoirs with instructions that they be published after a certain number of years. These memoirs, running into several volumes were handed over by one chief of the RAW to another until one of the many members of the Bajpai-Tripathi family employed in the RAW established personal control over them—the applicant has reasons to believe. This is an act of corruption since it involves issues of royalty, name and fame. The memoirs are the property of the RAW and the heritage of this country. They need to be traced and accounted for.”


Bhatia, during the hearing before the Commission, stated that she was an employee of RAW and she heard about this (the memoirs) from Balachandran, former special secretary and  some other secretaries. She stated that she asked various people within the department and they all pleaded ignorance except the present chief of RAW SK Tripathi. She claimed that he told her not to worry about these and that they are in safe hands.


The PIO maintained that RAW was exempted from providing the information and hence no information can be provided. The PIO was claiming exemption from providing information based on Section 24(1) of the RTI Act, which states as follows:


"Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government:


Provided that the information pertaining. to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:


Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, such information shall be provided within forty five days from the date of the receipt of request;"


The PIO also contended that in decision no.CIC/SM/A/2011/000285, the Commission had in another matter accepted the plea of the PIO that the organization (RAW) is exempt and it has been stated, “If information has to be disclosed by exempted organizations merely on the basis of suspension or certain perceptions of information seeker, it would be pointless to classify certain organizations as exempt.” 


The Commission at that has perused the decision and in that matter the CIC had come to a clear conclusion that “none of the information sought by her in the six cases convincingly established any human rights violation or act of corruption.”


This bench has also accepted the exemption claimed by RAW under Section 24(1) of the RTI Act in various cases. However, each case has to be examined by the Commission, to see whether a reasonable allegation of corruption or human rights violation has been made.


Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that it has been explicitly stated that allegations of corruption or human rights' violation shall not be excluded under the sub-section. Hence the Commission will have to see whether an allegation of corruption or human rights violation has been made when seeking the information. The Commission will also see whether an allegation appears to be specific and mentions adequate information. The allegation may be true or false but so long as it mentions specifics it would have to be taken into account when deciding whether the information should be provided or not, he said.


“In the instant case the appellant has provided specific information that Kao the first chief of RAW had written memoirs and given them to RAW with the intention that the organization would publish them at some future date. Bhatia has also alleged that these are not with the RAW any longer. If any of this is false the PIO only needs to state this. However, if the allegation is not denied then it fulfils the condition provided in Section 24(1) to qualify for information being provided. If the allegation is true it could constitute criminal misconduct as defined in Section 13(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988,” Mr Gandhi said in his order.


While allowing the appeal, the CIC said, “The appellant has sought information on ‘steps taken by the RAW to establish organizational control over the above-mentioned memoirs of RN Kao’, currently in the personal possession of members of the Bajpai-Tripathi clan in the RAW. If the allegation is false the PIO will only have to state this. If however the allegation is not false the PIO would state whether any steps have been taken or not.”




Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000292/SG/13617


Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000292/SG



Appellant:                                          : Nisha Priya Bhatia

 New Delhi-110028       


Respondent:                                      : Sumati Kumar,

  CPIO & Director

  Cabinet Secretariat, 

                                                                    Bikaner House (Annexe), Shahjahan Road,

                                                                    New Delhi-110 011



Ranjit Kumar

4 years ago

The most of information are denied by such organisation like RAW and CBI using Section 24(1). This is really an exemplary decision of the commission which shows very close interpretation and also show the way how to keep spirit of RTI Act despite of using Section 24(1)as safeguard by the organisation.

Did Warburg Pincus make 120% or just 6.4% compounded from Havells investment?

The Economic Times reported that Warburg Pincus made 2.2 times on its investment in Havells. What was the compounded return in dollar-adjusted terms? A simple calculation shows that Warburg Pincus actually made only 55% returns in dollar terms over seven year or 6.4% compounded

According to the Economic Times, private equity firm Warburg Pincus has made 2.2 times return in Havells India, apparently an example of great investment prowess. Warburg Pincus has exited Havells by selling its entire stake of 46.07 lakh shares, while its group company, Seacrest Investment, has sold 58.2 lakh shares of Havells, according to information disclosed to the stock exchanges.

What the article mentions in passing is that this great return was achieved between 2007 and 2013, or over seven years. That immediately means that return was just about 11.9% compounded. Good, but not really extraordinary. What the article does not mention is even more important. What about dollar-adjusted returns?

Our calculations show that Warbug Pincus actually made just 1.54 times on its dollar investments as opposed to the 2.2 times in rupee terms.

This is because the dollar strengthened by over 42.39% in seven years. This has substantially eroded the benefits of rupee returns. When Warbug invested in Havells, the rupee was Rs39.68 to the dollar. Right now, it is quoting at Rs56.50. Adjusted for time and erosion the value of rupee, what is the actual compounded return made by Warburg? Only about 55% over seven long years!

This is hardly any investment return worth crowing about. Despite the glamour and aura of smart investment process, the private equity businesses lose money quite often and have only one or two big winners. They don’t even know the reasons behind these big wins and so cannot replicate them. They are also often found wanting in understanding management quality. An example of poor understanding of corporate governance is Warburg Pincus’ terrible call on Moser Baer. 

Moneylife had written how Warburg Pincus held on to Moser Baer for years and that it turned out to be a dud investment (Warburg Pincus’ dud investment in Moser Baer: An honest mistake?). Warburg Pincus peculiarly stuck to this investment despite all sorts of warning signals, ranging from window-dressing its accounts, shuffling its auditor and running a commodity CD business whose margins were wafer thin. We assumed that any investor, especially a large investor, would be alert to many warning signs from Moser. But this is a wrong assumption. PE managers too suffer from overconfidence (unreasonable confidence in business plans) or endowment effect (staying put, having invested) like average investors.



Ravindranath S

4 years ago


SEBI passes consent order against five entities

The applicants had sold shares comprising over 32% share capital of Wellman’s Homeopathic Laboratories between 30 December 2009 and 2 February 2010 in five tranches. However, disclosures were made in September 2010 with several weeks of delays

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has settled charges of non-compliance of takeover norms against five entities after they paid Rs2.5 lakh towards settlement fee.


In an order dated 30th May, SEBI said the order will come into force immediately and the regulator would not initiate any enforcement action against these entities.


A consent order enables settling administrative or civil proceedings.


The five applicants—Gurmeet Singh Dhingra, Renu Dhingra, Wellmans Finlease (now known as Trinidhi Finance), Kuldeep Jain and Trilochan Singh—had been charged with delay in filing the requisite information under the SEBI’s Takeover Regulations during 2009-10.


The applicants had sold shares comprising over 32% share capital of Wellman’s Homeopathic Laboratories between 30 December 2009 and 2 February 2010 in five tranches.


However, disclosures about share-sale were made in September 2010 with several weeks of delays.


The applicants had submitted a consent order application to SEBI in December 2010.


The High Powered Advisory Committee of SEBI had recommended that proceedings may be settled if the applicant is agreeable to pay Rs2.50 lakh towards settlement charges.


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