RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Unaware of facts, FAA orders PIO to furnish information again!

 

The PIO provided information within 15 days and yet, unaware of the scandalous state of affairs in the food and supply department, the FAA asked him to furnish the information again. This is the 57th 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 disposing off an appeal, observed how highest authorities, instead of taking responsibility for the distressing state of affairs of their department, harass citizens and even Public Information Officers (PIOs).
 
While giving this important judgement on 2 July 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The PIO has definitely given the information available with him within 15 days. The appellate authority LR Garg, joint commissioner—who cannot be unaware of this scandalous state of affairs—has just ordered that the PIO should furnish information. It is not at all clear what the PIO is expected to do.”
 
Delhi resident Suraj Pal, on 16 March 2010, sought information from the Food and Supply department of Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) about his ration card. Here is the information he sought and the answers provided by the PIO...
 
1. Furnish information regarding not printing of BPL ration card of the appellant.
PIO's reply—Cards were sent for modernization, but your card is still to be received by the department.
  
2. Furnish information that to get a printed BPL ration card appellant has to pay Rs25 or this fee is asked due to a departmental order, give certified copy.
PIO's reply—For getting the card an application has to be made on a plain paper. The amount of Rs25 is charged on form ‘A’ (New/Changing of Name of head/ Duplicate ration card.).
 
3. If no then what is the reason for not giving a ration card to the appellant.
PIO's reply—The appellant can come to the office and write an application regarding this matter.
 
4. Kindly give the name of the person who had the responsibility to print the ration card of the appellant. 
PIO's reply—New ration cards are sent to VIRGO company. The appellant’s ration card is still to come back. 
 
5. Kindly reply that taking Rs25 from the appellant by FSO and inspector is valid. If yes then under which departmental order it is taken. Furnish certified copy.
PIO's reply—There is no fee taken for making an application to the Department. Fee is only taken for form ‘A’. Please come to the office and meet the Asst. Commissioner. 
 
6. Kindly inform that will there be any action taken against the FSO and the inspector.
PIO's reply—Kindly specify your question regarding form ‘A’.
 
7. Enclose that the acts of FSO and inspector are not legal then what action is taken by the Department against them.
PIO's reply—NIL
 
8.  Kindly furnish the date by which the new ration card will be given to the appellant.
PIO's reply—Come to the office and give an application. Action will be taken.
 
Claiming the information provided by the PIO was insufficient and unsatisfactory, Pal filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA), ordered the PIO to redress the grievance of Pal within 15 days.
 
Then Pal approached the CIC citing non-compliance of the FAA order by the PIO and filed his second appeal.
 
During a hearing, the food supply officer, representing the PIO stated that printing of the ration cards was outsourced to a vendor called VIRGO, which had not supplied the ration cards since three years.
 
Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, observed that the PIO has given the information within 15 days, however, the FAA ordered that the PIO should furnish information. “It is not at all clear what the PIO is expected to do. The department at the highest level has to take the responsibility for the distressing state of affairs where ration cards were not being printed for three years by a vendor. It is unimaginable that the department cannot find a corrective action for this. This is unnecessarily harassing citizens and also PIOs who are left to justifying a completely unjustifiable situation,” the Commission said.
 
While disposing off the appeal, Mr Gandhi said the PIO has provided the information available with him.
 
 
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
 
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/001364/8383
http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_A_2010_001364_8383_M_37170.pdf 
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/001364
 
 
Appellant                                      : Suraj Pal
                                                           Delhi- 110039      
 
Respondent                                   : Chokhe Lal 
                                                           Public Information Officer & 
                                                           Assistant Commissioner             
                                                           Food and Supply, GNCTD, Gov. of NCT                  
                                                           Delhi, Block C, Pkt. C, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi
 

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ASCI pulls up big names for misleading claims

The Advertising Standards Council of India upheld complaints against 43 of 50 advertisements in the month of December, including those against big boys like Hindustan Unilever, Pernod Ricard, Aircel and Dabur India. With a new tracking system in place, the self-regulatory organisation claims it is now much more efficient at finding false claims, both in print and on TV

 
 The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) upheld complaints against several big names for false or misleading claims in their advertisements in December 2012. Offenders included fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer Hindustan Unilever (HUL), which was pulled up for ads for three of its products, New Rin, New Clear anti-dandruff shampoo and Comfort Fabric Conditioner, and Aircel, whose ‘voyeuristic’ TV advertisement was said to have the potential to cause “grave and widespread offence”.
 
ASCI is now using technology to identify violations in print and on TV, which the National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) identifies. NAMS, which uses TAM Media’s AdEx India software to monitor ads, tracks more than 30 major newspapers and all every television channels aired in India in all languages. Here are some of its noteworthy decisions in December 2012, when it upheld 43 of the 50 complaints it received.
 
White lies
 
You probably wouldn’t believe a claim like “the only detergent powder in India which gives freedom from yellowness and gives shining whiteness”, but HUL certainly thinks some of us will buy it. In the ad, for New Rin, it also tried to substantiate the above claim by saying it was a patented technology that removed the “perception of yellowness”. ASCI found the claim to be misleading. It said that simply the use of patented technology is not enough to substantiate the product’s ability to remove ‘yellowness’. The organisation also pulled HUL up for including a “creative representation of yellowness removal” to show how New Rin is better than other products. Its judgement says, “This in effect means that the shots showing the shirt washed with the other detergent and the shirt washed with New Rin cannot be replicated into reality. This is incorrect and misleads the consumers.” 
 
HUL was also asked to remove from its website the claim that its Comfort Fabric Conditioner is the “market leader globally” as the American brand Downy was the No 1 fabric conditioner in the world. The advertisement for the new Clear Anti-Dandruff shampoo was also found to be misleading, as the company was not able to substantiate the claim that its product was the “best anti-dandruff shampoo in the country” nor was it able to produce the details of the consumer study that found that it was the preferred choice of “9 out of 10 users”.
 
UnFairness cream
 
Perhaps you’ve seen the ad, the one in which Minissha Lamba’s glow is so noticeable, ballet dancers are distracted mid-performance. If you haven’t, you can watch it below (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wuSlCnzAEY). Toward the end of the advertisement, you’ll notice that Oxy Life Bleach “gives natural fairness” and “contains no ammonia”. ASCI ruled that the first was without proof and the second was absurd because ammonia is unavoidable, as it is produced when the ingredients in the package are mixed together.
 
Moot music
 
You’ve seen the advertisements—for Royal Stag Mega Music, Seagram 100 Pipers Pure Music, Seagram’s Blender’s Pride Magical Nights—but have you seen the product? No? ASCI thinks so too. It concluded that in the absence of data by “an independent research company of the number of outlets the brand extension products is distributed in the market place or audited sales revenues generated”, the products are to be “considered surrogate ads of a liquor brand whose advertising is not allowed”. The complaint was, therefore, upheld.
 
Privacy settings
 
Aircel’s ad is surely in bad taste. In it, college students secretly film a young woman in a library when she removes her upper coat whilst this is being watched by a fellow student. ASCI noted that the commercial is “appalling, particularly at a time when youth are looking up to movies and commercials for ideas and inspirations”. It went on to add that the commercial might take away the sense of guilt of “secretly filming a woman in a public place”. Lastly the judgement notes that the ad “in the light of generally prevailing standards of propriety, is likely to cause grave or widespread offence.”

Muddy claims
 
Sachin may hold numerous records in cricket, but this is not necessarily true for the products he endorses. In the ad for Livpure Water Purifiers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKxBr85YBaI), which Sachin appears in, it is claimed that the product “gives out world's most pure water” and is “India’s first intelligent RO water purifier”. In its judgement, ASCI asked “Is it purer than water processed by other water purifiers like Kent, Pureit and Tata Swach? Is it purer than distilled water, glacial water and boiled water?” As the manufacturer was unable to substantiate its claims with scientific evidence, proof, safety data or certification, the complaint against the ad was upheld.
 
Of the 43 complaints that were upheld, 17 were from the healthcare segment, seven from the home and personal care, five from education and four from consumer durables. Other categories included telecom, real estate and food and beverage. The complaints were not upheld against Ceat Ltd’s Ceat Tyres, Skin Alive’s Forever Young, Kovai Medical Center & Hospital’s Effective Treatment for Thyroid Disorders & Cancer, Gillette India’s Oral-B Cross Action Pro-Health toothbrush, Clinic Dermatech’s Beauty Solutions for Skin Problems and Procter & Gamble Home Products’ Pantene Pro-V shampoo.
 

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COMMENTS

Vinay Joshi

4 years ago

K.Saldhana,

Over the period several complaints upheld by ASCI.

What about the consumers, the victims?

Regards,

FinMin’s two faces: One unit wants to penalise while the other believes in incentives for the same goal!

While one unit of the finance ministry want to penalise citizens for using cheque and cash, another unit believes in providing 2% incentives to encourage online transactions

 

The finance ministry wants to encourage the use of online payment systems. However, there seems to be two opposing methods being used by the finance ministry to achieve the same goal. While its Financial Services department want to penalise citizens for using cheque and cash, a Committee on Payment Systems suggested giving a 2% incentive on online tax payments.
 
The Committee has suggested an incentive of 2% lower sales tax, service tax, goods and service tax if a product is procured and payment made online for encouraging merchants and consumers to look at internet-based small-value transactions.
 
On 25 October 2012, DD Maheshwari, under secretary in the Department of Financial Services sent out a fatwa to all chief executives of public sector banks (PSBs) asking them to consider charging a processing fee from the customer paying credit card dues either in cash or through cheque. This idea was taken from HDFC Bank that recently increased such charges from Rs50 to Rs100 per transaction. 
 
According the suggestion made by the Committee, the incentive can also be offered to the consumers in terms of value added tax (VAT) refund on the use of credit and debit cards, for encouraging card usage. 
 
While online payment is one of the futures in payment systems, the finance ministry seems to have ignored the ground realities. According to IntenetWorldStats.com, as of June 2012, India ranked at the bottom in top 20 countries across the world in internet penetration. UK was the topper with 83.6% of its population having access to internet the same for India was just 11.4%.    
 
According to a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB), as of December 2012, there were about 15 crore internet users in the country, out of which 8.71 crore accessed it from mobile devices.  
 
Last month, while speaking at a seminar on “Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures and Innovations in Retail Payment Systems”, Harun R Khan, deputy governor, RBI said, “Although, the recent financial crisis did not show any strong evidence of correlation between payment systems and financial stability, going forward, payment systems, both large value and retail, could be the source of instability when the financial transactions moves largely to electronic mode that gives rise to several operational and financial risks.” 
 
In addition, the central bank on 28 February 2013, asked all banks to put in place security and risk control measures to minimise the impact of cyber attacks on electronic payment systems.
 
Unfortunately, it appears that the finance ministry is forcefully intervening into the RBI’s territory of retail payment systems, which is one of the primary functions of the financial regulator.
 

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COMMENTS

gopalanjanaki

4 years ago

That shows intelligence of the person.Spread red carpet for BUDGET&we are taken away by++ points&MISS----------- points&realise very late!!!!PULL the carpet when you are analysing+ points!!! great

Ubaldo C DSouza

4 years ago

Each one wants to show his clout. Enjoy the tug-of-war.

nagesh kini

4 years ago

A clear case of the MOF's left hand not knowing what the right is doing!
What is their mechanism to monitor their fatwas in the form of Directions/Circulars?
None whatsoever!
Cobra string operation exposes them naked!
In their hurry to enhance CASA to window dress balance sheets Form 60 for No PAN all accounts such accounts should be subjected to a specialspot audit.

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