We all witness halting of traffic when all grades of ministers, with red beacon lights on their cars and cavalcade of several vehicles, pass through the road. RTI reveals this is illegal! The RTI activist also raised the issue before the Human Rights Commission
Most urban cities have one more sore point for traffic besides vehicle congestion and that is halting of traffic whenever any VIP passes by, often with a cavalcade of vehicles behind him. The common commuter is stranded, sometime for a long time.
While all grades of ministers lavishly enjoy this VIP treatment on roads, Jammu-based noted Right to Information (RTI) activist Deepak Sharma has procured information under RTI, which comes as a pleasant surprise.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in reply to an RTI filed by Sharma revealed that the traffic on roads can be stopped only in the case of movement by the President of India, the Vice President of India, the Prime Minister of India and visiting foreign dignitaries who are given President/ PM level security cover.
Sharma said, “I have always been angry about closure of road traffic for the general public in order to facilitate easy and free movement of VIPs and their convoy. Even if there is a case of emergency, vehicles like ambulances also get stranded.’’
A couple of years back, a patient who was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance lost his life as traffic was stranded for PM Manmohan Singh.
In the reply to his RTI application, the MHA said, “…it may be stated that as per guidelines issued by MHA in consultation with Central Security Agencies, traffic is to be stopped only in the case of President of India, the Vice President of India, the Prime Minister of India and visiting foreign dignitaries who are given President’s/ PM level security cover so as to give them safe passage during movement by road. Further details in this regard are exempt under Section 24 (1) and 8 (1)(g) of the RTI Act 2005 and cannot b e disclosed.’’
However, the RTI reply makes it clear that there is a set of rules adopted by state governments for halting of traffic for VIPs smooth transit on road. The reply states: “Details with regard to the authority vested with the police for regulating traffic movement in connection with movement of dignitaries or otherwise, may pertain to the state governments, form where the information may be obtained directly. Information on the subject may also be available with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to whom a copy of your application is being transferred under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act 2005 to provide you the information that they may have.”
“Similarly, a copy of your application is also being transferred to Delhi Police for providing you information (in respect of Delhi Police) if any, they may have on the subject.’’
Interestingly, Sharma filed his RTI, online. Following are the details:
RTI to MHA by online mode vide Regn. No. MHOME/R/2014/60202.
For reply, Please check follow the link: https://rtionline.gov.in/request/status.php
Enter registration no. : HOME/R/2014/60202
Email id : [email protected]
1) Kindly provide the designations of all such VIPs etc. who are allowed to move freely on the roads by closing the traffic on roads for general public.
2) Kindly provide the clear and certified copy of the order/directive etc. issued by Department of Home or some other competent authority which allows/authorizes the Traffic police or any other such agency to close traffic for general public for ensuring the free and easy movement of VIPs etc on the roads.
3) Kindly mention under rules what legal action is taken against a person who refuses to stop or tries to pass through the road which is closed for traffic for the easy and free movement of the VIPs on the road. Kindly provide the relevant sections under law in this regard.
4) Kindly provide the clear and certified copy of the order/directive etc. which allows ambulances/patients etc. to pass through the road which is closed for traffic for general public for ensuring easy and free movement of VIPs etc on the roads.
Sharma termed the present practice followed by traffic police to close the traffic for allowing free movement to all VIPs as undemocratic and violation of fundamental right of the people to enjoy right to freedom of movement.
Sharma also approached the State Human Rights Commission of J&K, petitioning that the general public is facing lot of hardship and sufferings due to this practice. He wrote: “This act of traffic police costs lives at times particularly when patients need immediate treatment in hospitals. The stoppage of traffic for general public to give smooth passage to VIPs also hits the right to liberty and right to freedom of movement of the general public.’’
The petitioner also placed on record of Rights Panel, the guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs to stop traffic to give passage during movement by road, only in case of president of India, the Vice President of India, the Prime Minister of India and visiting dignitaries who are given President/ PM level security cover.
Considering the averments made in the petition a case of Human Rights violation, the acting Chairperson of State Human Rights Commission, Rafiq Fida, issued notice to Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu and IGP Traffic, J&K for filing their factual reports in the matter. It stated: “The Commission cannot lose sight of the facts prevailing in the state on account of security scenario, but traffic department needs to adopt measures to minimize the inconvenience of the public in general due to stoppage of traffic to give safe passage to VIPs not entitled for the same”.
The hearing is on 30 March 2014.
Urging readers to file RTI in your respective city or town regarding which strata of VIP at the local level is covered under such VIP rule.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
Only a close below 6,270 on the Nifty tomorrow would mean a reversal of the trend
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The BSE 30-share Sensex opened at 21,280 and moved in the range of 21,176 and 21,333 and closed at 21,277 (up 67 points or 0.32%) while the NSE Nifty opened at 6,328 and moved between 6,288 and 6,336 and closed at 6,329 (up 31 points or 0.49%). The NSE recorded a higher volume of 62.50 crore shares.
The Election Commission has announced the dates for 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The polls will be held between 7 April 2014 and 12 May 2014 on nine days.
Private sector output across India rose for the first time in eight months during February. The seasonally adjusted HSBC India Composite Output Index posted 50.3 in February 2014, higher than 49.6 in January 2014, indicating a fractional rate of expansion. Adjusted for seasonal influences, the headline HSBC Services Business Activity Index rose from 48.3 in the previous month to 48.8 in February. This was consistent with a slight rate of contraction, and one that was the slowest in the current eight-month period of reduction, Markit Economics said. Sector data indicated that four of the six monitored categories recorded falling business activity, with the fastest decrease noted in Financial Intermediation.
India's exports will not be able to achieve the target of $325 billion in the current fiscal and will fall short by about $10 billion, Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) said. The country's merchandise exports would touch $312-315 billion by the end of this fiscal, ending March 31. Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the interim budget speech had said that India's exports are foreseen to grow by 6.3% to $326 billion during the current fiscal. "The government should not fix annual targets for exports. We should fix a target for five years and work accordingly," FIEO President Rafeeq Ahmed says.
State-run banks' bad loans are anticipated to be slightly higher by March-end from a year earlier, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Wednesday after reviewing their quarterly performance. He added that banks recovered bad loans worth Rs18,933 crore during April to December 2013.
US indices closed sharply higher on Tuesday. The US economy will grow this year at its fastest pace since 2005, helping reduce the annual average unemployment rate for a fourth straight year even as market borrowing costs rise, the Obama administration predicted. Gross domestic product will expand 3.1% in 2014 after rising 1.9% last year, the administration said in forecasts accompanying its 2015 budget plan released in Washington. The jobless rate will average 6.9% this year, compared with 7.4% last year, and average 6.4% in 2015, according to estimates based on information as of mid-November.
Except for Shanghai Composite (down 0.89%) and Hang Seng (down 0.34%) all the other Asian indices closed in the green. Jakarta Composite (1.26%) was the top gainer.
The HSBC China services Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 51 in February from 50.7 in January, HSBC Holdings PLC said on Wednesday.
European indices were trading in the red while US Futures were trading marginally in the green.
UK services expanded for a 14th month in February as an index of employment rose and confidence increased to the highest level since September 2009.
A Purchasing Managers’ Index was 58.2 compared with 58.3 in January. Manufacturing and construction both grew in February and Markit said today that those reports, combined with today’s services reading, indicate the economy is expanding at a pace of about 0.7% in the first quarter. In the Euro area, services output expanded faster than initially estimated in February, as Germany boosted growth to the strongest in almost three years. Markit’s index for the region rose to 52.6, compared with a provisional reading of 51.7. The gauge was 51.6 in January. A composite index of manufacturing and services increased to 53.3.
The election commission has upped the expense limit for Lok Sabha elections from Rs40 lakh to Rs70 lakh per candidate in big states. But 129 or 30% out of 437 MPs spent Rs14.62 lakh or 59% of the expense limit during the last general election
The Indian government has cleared a proposal by Election Commission to increase the expenditure limit for Lok Sabha elections to Rs70 lakh from Rs40 lakh per candidate in big states. But does it have anything to do with the reality? During the last general election, about 129 members of Parliament (MPs) declared election expenses of less than 50% of expense limit. This raises a question on the need to increase expenditure limit without taking into consideration the blatant misuse of black money in elections.
According to an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), out of 437 MPs who submitted their election expenditure statements, on an average MPs spent of Rs14.62 lakh or about 59% of the average expense limit in 2009.
Professor Trilochan Sastry, founder of ADR, said, “Raising the ceiling does not address the real issues. We need more transparency in the funding and source of funding, along with penalties for not being transparent. Everyone knows about the huge amount of black money in elections. We need to curb this blatant misuse of black money in elections. In summary, none of the major concerns are addressed by the Cabinet decision to raise the ceiling.”
The government has raised the expenditure limit to Rs70 lakh for each Lok Sabha constituency in bigger states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka, and to Rs54 lakh from Rs22 lakh in smaller states like Goa on par with other hilly and north eastern states. The government also cleared the proposal to raise expenditure limits for assembly elections, with a maximum of Rs28 lakh and a minimum of Rs20 lakh in North Eastern and hill states.
The election expenditure statements submitted by MPs include details of expenses on public meeting and processions, campaigning through electronic and print media, expense on campaign workers, expenses on vehicles used and expense on campaign materials.
1. Less than 50% of the Limit: Candidates have constantly claimed that the election expenditure limit set is very low. However, based on the election expense declarations of 437 MPs analysed from Lok Sabha, 2009 to the Election Commission, 129 MPs (30%) have declared election expenses of less than 50% of the expense limit in their constituency.
2. Average Election Expenses: Based on the election expense declarations of 437 MPs from Lok Sabha 2009 to the ECI, the average amount of money spent by them in the elections is only about Rs14.62 lakh, which is 59% of the expense limit.
3. Election Expenses funded by Political Parties: 317 MPs (73%) declared that in the expenditure incurred by them, none of it was funded by the political party which fielded him/her. 120 MPs (27%) declared that a part of their election expenditure was funded by the political party and out of these, 15 MPs (3%) declared that all of their expenditure was funded by the political party which fielded him/her.
4. Party-wise Election Expenses funded by Political Parties: Among the MPs who were funded (partially or fully) by political parties, 35 MPs from BJP had declared an average funding from the political party of Rs5.08 lakh (36% of their average election expenditure). 30 MPs from INC have declared an average funding from the political party of Rs5.61 lakh (36% of their average election expenditure).
5. Expenditure more than the Expense Limit: Two MPs declared election expenditure more than the prescribed expense limit. Premdas of SP from Etawah Constituency, Uttar Pradesh declared an election expenditure of Rs57.39 lakh (230% of the expense limit) and Akhilesh Yadav of SP from Kannauj Constituency with expenses of Rs26.73 lakhs (107% of the expense limit).
6. State-wise Average Election Expenses: The highest average election expenditure declared in a state is Tripura (two Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.79 lakh (75% of the expense limit) followed by Jharkhand (Seven Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.73 lakh (75% of expense limit), Uttarakhand (five Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs18.49 lakh (74% of expense limit) and Assam (14 Lok Sabha constituencies analysed) with an average election expenditure of Rs17.77 lakh (71% of expense limit).
7. Party-wise Average Election Expenses: The party wise average election expenses shows that the average spending for 161 MPs of Indian National Congress (INC) is Rs14.38 lakh (59% of the average expense limit), for 91 MPs of BJP is Rs14.43 lakh (59% of the average expense limit), for 21 MPs of SP is Rs19.48 lakh (78% of the average expense limit) and for 19 MPs of BSP is Rs14.72 lakh (59% of the average expense limit).
8. Top 3 MPs with highest Election Expenses: The maximum expense of about Rs57.39 lakh (230% of the expense limit) has been declared by Premdas of SP from Etawah constituency, Uttar Pradesh followed by Akhilesh Yadav of SP from Kannauj constituency, with an expense of Rs26.73 lakh (or 107% of the expense limit) and Yashbanta Narayan Singh Laguri of BJD from Keonjhar constituency, Orissa with an expense of Rs24.97 lakh (or 100% of the expense limit)
9. MPs with lowest Election Expenses: The minimum expense of about Rs1.31 lakhs (or 5% of the expense limit) has been declared by CM Chang of NPF from Nagaland constituency. He is followed by Ravneet Singh of INC from Anandpur Sahib constituency, Punjab with election expenses of about Rs1.75 lakh (or 7% of the expense limit) and Muhammed Hamdulla Sayeed AB of INC from Lakshwadeep constituency with expenses of Rs2.02 lakh (or 20% of the expense limit).
10. Expense on Public Meetings and Processions: Out of the 437 MPs analysed, 33 (8%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on public meetings, processions etc.
11. Expense on Campaigning through electronic/print media: 123 (28%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on campaigning through electronic/print media.
12. Expense on Campaign Workers: 418 (96%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on campaign workers.
13. Expense on Vehicles used: 22 (5%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on vehicles Used.
14. Expense on Campaign Materials and Erection of gates, arches, banners etc.: 21 (5%) MPs have declared that they have not spent ANY amount on Campaign Materials and erection of gates, arches, banners etc.