Moneylife Foundation completes 150 events with a workshop on RTI for advanced users conducted by former chief information commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi. Mr Gandhi discussed various case studies during the session
In just under three years, Moneylife Foundation reached yet another milestone, this time of completing 150 events. Over this time-frame the Foundation has covered events on various topics in personal finance and public interest to empower its members. “How to Effectively Use the Right to Information Act” is just one of them. Mr Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner (CIC), over the last three months, conducted workshops for beginners and as well as advanced users of the RTI. This was the final session for advanced users. Based on feedback from participants, Mr Gandhi focussed on specific case studies to discuss what has been done so far and the way forward.
Mr Gandhi explained common apprehensions of the provisions under the RTI Act prevalent among the participants as well as information officers and offered interesting viewpoints and suggestions as well as opinions and clues on how to pursue the case in the appeal process and minimize delays in obtaining relevant information.
The session was replete with plenty of interesting anecdotes and examples from his vast experience as the Central Information Commissioner and as an activist. He also urged the participants to use previous specific orders of the Central Information Commission (CIC) as potential reference points to enable activists argue their case effectively. Mr Gandhi took the participants through the list of important judgements on the RTI, which are also published on the Moneylife website.
The provisions of RTI are contained in Section 8(1), which Mr Gandhi devoted much of the session time. It is the contents of this Section that one’s RTI query can be refused. He also gave several examples of how PIOs refuse RTI queries. The most common excuse by information officers for arbitrarily refusing information is that they hold it in a fiduciary capacity. He advised participants to go through the Central Information Commissioner Judgement (CIC/SG/A/2012/000857/19484) in order to get the background of a case where fiduciary relationship refusal was overturned in favour of the appellant.
Mr Gandhi pointed out that “information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders” can be refused. The keyword here is ‘impede’ and most PIOs misuse this word. If an RTI query is turned down based on this ground, the PIO must give the reason how and why it impedes an investigation.
Mr Gandhi mentioned that filing a second appeal is a long-drawn out process and will take as much as two years. He advised participants to maintain a repository of all the RTI queries, appeals in an orderly fashion so that they can easily refer to it and retrieve information.
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Import duty on gold and platinum has been increased from 4% to 6% with immediate effect to curb imports and check the widening current account deficit
New Delhi: The Indian government on Monday hiked import duty on gold and platinum to 6% from 4% with immediate effect—a move aimed at curbing imports of the precious metals to check the widening current account deficit (CAD), reports PTI.
“Government has decided to increase import duty on gold and platinum from 4% to 6% with immediate effect,” Department of Economic Affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram told reporters.
He further said the government will link gold exchange traded funds (ETF) with the gold deposit schemes, which will enable mutual funds to unlock their physical gold and invest in gold-linked schemes offered by banks.
“The changes proposed to the gold deposit scheme will make it attractive for individuals to deposit their idle gold with the banks under the gold deposit scheme,” Mayaram said.
He said the changes would help moderate import of gold and help in bridging the CAD.
Gold imports in 2011-12 amounted to $56.5 billion and in the current financial year, till December, they are estimated at $38 billion.
The consumer organisation wants the UPA government to take corrective steps against the “one address-one connection” rule and re-issue a fresh set of guidelines, keeping in view the joint family set-up in the country
Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) has opposed the anomalies in the implementation of the decision to reduce the number of LPG cylinders per connection. While questioning the recent ruling of the government that only one connection at the same address is eligible for six LPG cylinders per year under the subsidized quota, the CERC said, “This rule could hit the joint family culture in India as it will impose an additional financial burden of purchasing cooking gas at premium rates for big families that will be unable to survive on the limited quota.”
The joint family system is a deep-rooted trait in the Indian culture, CERC pointed out and appealed to the Centre to resolve the plight of thousands of such consumers who are part of joint families and will now have to bear an additional financial burden. CERC has outlined the threat that this “one kitchen one connection” rule will pose to the social fabric of the country.
In a letter to M Veerappa Moily, Union minister for petroleum and natural gas, the CERC, cited the example of a retired civil servant who will have to let go his LPG connection to stay with his 45-year-old son and daughter-in-law, both of whom have shown the same address at the gas office and are, therefore, entitled to only one subsidized connection.
CERC has also suggested ways through which the government can verify the number of people staying in a house and accordingly allot the subsidized connection. These methods include checking the municipal corporation bill, election card, telephone bill of the same address, which will help the authorities to avoid the misuse of this criterion.
CERC has asked the authorities concerned to take the required corrective steps against the “one address-one connection” rule and re-issue a fresh set of guidelines, keeping in view the joint family set-up in India. Else the consumer organization has also threatened legal action against the bodies concerned.
Last week, bowing to public pressure, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh raised the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to nine cylinders per household from six.
In September, the Centre had decided that each household will get six cylinders of 14.2-kg per annum at the subsidised rate and any requirement beyond that would have to be procured at market rate.
Subsidised LPG costs Rs410.50 per 14.2-kg cylinder and any household requirement beyond the new cap of nine cylinders will have to be bought at Rs942 per bottle.
RS Butola, chairman, Indian Oil Corporation said consumers will get five subsidised cylinders instead of previously mandated three till 31 March 2013. From 1 April onwards they will get nine cylinders in a year, he said.