Right to Information
SC decision marks a watershed in the evolution of RTI

Public Information Officers and Information Commissioners will now take inspiration from the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement and we will see RTI marching forward to bring better governance through transparency and participative democracy

 

I am very pleasantly surprised at the Supreme Court’s clear pro-transparency stance in its latest judgment involving Reserve Bank of India (RBI), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and ICICI Bank. It is also personally gratifying since 10 of the 11 orders, which the apex court has upheld were given by me. I had a worry that since I had disagreed with a full bench decision given earlier, the Court’s verdict would strike down my order. The apex court has seen the merit of my argument why the full bench decision was ‘per incuriam’. 
 
The Court has said: “Because an informed citizen has the capacity to reasoned action and also to evaluate the actions of the legislature and executives, which is very important in a participative democracy and this will serve the nation’s interest better which as stated above also includes its economic interests.” This truly reflects our democratic ideals.
The Supreme Court has upheld the orders for transparency with the words: “In rest of the cases, the CIC has considered elaborately, the information sought for, and passed orders, which in our opinion do not suffer from any error of law, irrationality or arbitrariness.”
After the advent of the Right to Information (RTI) Act this is the first judgment, which clearly accepts the RTI Act in letter and spirit.  The earlier judgments of the apex court were not in the same vein.
 
This now marks a watershed in the evolution of RTI. Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Information Commissioners will now take inspiration from this and we will see RTI marching forward to bring better governance through transparency and participative democracy. 
 
 
(Shailesh Gandhi served as Central Information Commissioner under the RTI Act, 2005, during 18 September 2008 to 6 July 2012. He is a graduate in Civil Engineering from IIT-Bombay. Before becoming a full time RTI activist in 2003, he sold his packaging business. In 2008, he was conferred the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Award for civil liberties.)

 

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

12 months ago

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Gandhi. If it was not for public spirited citizens like him, the common man in India would be helpless before the power of govt to do as it pleases.

MG Warrier

12 months ago

By any measure, this is a landmark judgment of the Apex Court and now, it is for the government and enlightened citizens to ‘use’ it in the right spirit, in public interest. The Supreme Court’s observations like, “The facts reveal that as banks are trying to cover up their underhand actions, they are even more liable to be subjected to public scrutiny” should open the eyes of both government and the institutions and by infusing transparency in transactions avoid similar indictments in future. Our legal framework, which has British origin and has not yet been ‘democratised’, insulates masters against action by servants and institutions (both in private and public sector) from litigations by clientele in several situations. Beyond citizen’s right to information, transparency issues in the conduct of statutory bodies and government departments which enjoy certain rights and privileges because of the nature of responsibilities entrusted to them need to be addressed.
The temptation on the part of government to bring in ‘ownership rights’ or on the part of regulators and supervisors to take shelter under provisions of the statute book meant to protect institutions and their clientele from embarrassment in exceptional situations, in a routine manner, should be avoided.
The observations of the Apex Court goes much beyond the issue of parting with information under RTI Act. Without fighting this from a mere legal or prestige angle to protect the image, by falling back on the secrecy clauses, RBI and other institutions need to go by the spirit of the observations by the highest court.
A quick gesture could be to initiate measures to make public, information the central bank is in possession and considers useful for banks’ clientele in deciding their relationship with individual banks. If legal provisions stand in the way, they should be got amended, as ‘ease to do business’ include information about the profile of the institution with which a customer deals.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

Sunil

12 months ago

Congratulations Shailesh for such clear orders as a CIC . We can only hope for this remarkably good and clear judgement from the Supreme Court will bring in better days for citizens who exercise the right to information.

Jaitley involved in DDCA corruption: AAP
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is involved in corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said on Thursday.
 
"Arun Jaitley is involved in the corruption in DDCA," AAP's Kumar Vishwas told the media here.
 
Raghav Chadha, an AAP spokesperson, said Jaitley had been running the DDCA like a private club.
 
The AAP leaders levelled a string of charges against Jaitley, who for years was the DDCA chairman.
 
Among these, they said a budget of Rs.24 crore was approved to construct a cricket stadium but Rs.114 crore was spent.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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For Goa, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is a real 'prabhu'!
Suresh Prabhu may well be India's railways minister, but for Goa, in Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar's words, he is nothing short of a 'prabhu' (lord) himself, especially vis-a-vis the quantum of projects sanctioned by him for India's smallest state over the last one year.
 
Prabhu, a son-in-law of Goa, who has made 10 official trips to the state since assuming office in November 2014, has launched a batch of new trains, started a new railway training institute and announced doubling of railway tracks - all of which, according to Parsekar, has been a godsend bonanza of sorts for Goa, which has historically been at the tail-end of railway ministry largesse.
 
"Suresh Prabhu has given a lot to Goa over the last few months. We just say, 'Hay Prabhu (O lord) please bless us with these things'. And Prabhu immediately obliges. For Goans, Suresh Prabhu is a real prabhu," Parsekar told IANS.
 
Barely a month after taking over, Prabhu, on his first visit to Goa, announced a holiday special from Mumbai for the popular Christmas and New Year Season. The train started within a week.
 
A month later, Prabhu was at it again, launching the concept of a Deccan Odyssey-styled luxury train along the Konkan region with a touch of Goa to its interiors. The train is expected to start rolling out some time next year.
 
On a request from Parsekar in May, the minister allotted to Goa its first diesel electric motor unit (DEMU) a couple of months back. Last month saw the launch of the Goa-New Delhi Rajdhani express, while the country's first double decker air-conditioned Shatabdi train was also flagged off by Prabhu from the Margao railway station earlier this month.
 
A new train to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh from Margao would be started next year.
 
The doubling of the Konkan Railway was an old proposal that never moved forward in view of the lack of government will, high costs and an environmentally fragile region.
 
The cost of doubling the 736-km track from Roha in Maharashtra, through Goa to Mangalore in Karnataka for around Rs. 10,500 crore (over $2 billion) was cleared by the railway ministry with Prabhu at the helm, while complete electrification of the line for Rs.750 crore is also under way.
 
In October, the Konkan Railway started the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology in Margao, which, in partnership with Goa University, will promote education and research in tunnelling technology, which the country desperately needs for creating connectivity to its remotest regions.
 
For his part, Prabhu, whose wife Uma hails from the village of Ribander on the outskirts of Panaji, believes that the potential of Goa, which receives nearly three million visitors annually, as a tourist destination can be furthered by increasing connectivity with the rest of India through the railway network.
 
"Goa has its own identity and created a niche for it in the tourism world. It is difficult to say no to Goa," Prabhu has said, making a case for pushing for the series of state-related projects.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Jyoti Dua

11 months ago

Excellent. A Institute of Tunnel Technology is a great idea.

E NASSER

12 months ago

all ministers - whether from congress or BJP do all tricks to please their voters without looking into the economic feasibility of the railway line sanctioned or projects awarded

Anand Vaidya

12 months ago

Are you insinuating that Suresh Prabhu is doing all these because he has married a Goan?

Considering the amount of work he has done (even for long neglected NE India), this is very unfair remark

REPLY

dvn

In Reply to Anand Vaidya 12 months ago

Anand I agree with you

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