Election Commission’s Claim that Micro-controller of EVMs Is One-time Programmed May Be Far from Truth, Reveals RTI
A reply to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act obtained from the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the EVM+VVPAT manufacturers—Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), points out that the claim about EVMs being infallible is questionable. The prime reason is that the micro-controller used in the EVMs cannot be called `one-time programmable’ (OTP). They contain three kinds of memories including `FLASH’ memory (that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed), which allegedly makes it open to manipulating data. This information is posted on the website of the Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors NV, which supplies the micro-controller chips. Also, most of the information sought on this vital public issue stands denied by all the three public authorities. 
 
Venkatesh Nayak, RTI research scholar and programme coordinator of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), who filed these RTI applications, says, “While the ECI continues to claim that the micro-controller used in the EVMs is OTP, the description of the micro-controller’s features on NXP’s website indicates that it has three kinds of memory—static random-access memory (SRAM), FLASH and electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM or E2PROM). Experts who know enough and more about micro-controllers confirm that a computer chip, which includes FLASH memory, cannot be called OTP.” Mr Nayak, who filed the RTI application with the ECI in February 2019, sought the following information:
 
  • A clear photocopy of all reports of the technical evaluation committees received since 1990 till date regarding EVMs and VVPATs, along with annexures, if any;

 

  • A clear photocopy of the report of the forensic examination of EVMs conducted by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) pursuant to the direction of the Bombay High Court in EP No. 15 of 2014 along with annexures, if any; and

 

  • The complete list of manufacturers of micro-controllers used in the EVMs along with their postal addresses.
 
In his reply, the central public information officer (CPIO) from ECI simply stated that the file, regarding compliance with the Central Information Commission (CIC)’s recommendation to make the source code related information about EVMs public, was under submission. 
 
The CPIO stated that the report of the forensic examination of the EVMs used in the elections to the Assembly constituency of Parvati at Pune in Maharashtra, in 2014 were submitted to the Bombay High Court in a sealed cover. The ECI’s CPIO claimed that information about suppliers of micro-controllers used in the latest generation (M3) of the EVMs and VVPATs supplied to the ECI were available exclusively with the manufacturers.  Mr Nayak’s analysis of the main findings from documents obtained through the three RTI interventions shows:
 
  • The micro-controllers (computer chip) embedded in the BEL-manufactured EVMs and VVPATs used in the current elections, are manufactured by NXP—a reputable multi-billion dollar corporation based in the Netherlands with offices in over 30 countries. 

 

  • ECIL refused to disclose the identity of the manufacturer of the micro-controller used in its EVMs and VVPATs citing commercial confidence under Section 8(1)(d of the RTI Act;

 

  • In 2017, some segments of the media reported that Microchip Inc, US headed by a non-resident Indian (NRI) billionaire supplied the EVM micro-controllers. Documents released under the RTI Act show, that at least BEL has not used this company’s micro-controllers in the EVMs sold to the ECI for use in the current elections;

 

  • While the ECI continues to claim that the micro-controller used in the EVMs is one-time programmable or OTP, the description of the micro-controller’s features on NXP’s website indicates that it has three kinds of memory – SRAM, FLASH and EEPROM (or E2PROM). Experts who know enough and more about micro-controllers confirm that a computer chip, which includes FLASH memory, cannot be called OTP;

 

  • The ECI has not yet made any decision on the September 2018 recommendation of the CIC to get the competent authorities to examine whether detailed information about the firmware or source code used in the EVMs can be placed in the public domain in order to create public trust in the EVM-based voting system;

 

  • Despite the passage of more than five years, the ECI does not appear to have acted on the 2013 recommendation of its own technical evaluation committee (TEC) to make the firmware or source code embedded in the micro-controller used in EVMs transparent in order to ensure that there is no Trojan or other malware in the EVMs;

 

  • ECIL replied that the firmware or source code testing was done by a third party, namely, STQC, an agency under the ministry of electronics and information technology. But the CPIO denied access to the reports on the ground that they were too voluminous. BEL denied access to this information claiming the exemption relating to commercial confidence and intellectual property rights under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act;

 

  • BEL won a purchase order worth Rs2,678.13 crore to supply EVMs and VVPATs to ECI. ECIL, however, refused to disclose this information also, stating that despatch data will be supplied after the general elections are completed; and;

 

  • While BEL claimed that the battery powering its EVM could last 16 hours of non-stop voting with 4 ballot units, ECIL claimed a battery life of two years for its EVMs!

 

  • While ECIL claimed that the firmware and source code audit related information was 'classified' and could not be disclosed under Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act which protects national security interests, BEL claimed commercial confidence and intellectual property rights-related exemption under Section 8(1)(d) to deny access to the same information.
 
The controversial story of India’s EVMs
 
Senior leader of BJP, GVL Narsimha’s book, Democracy At Risk! Can We Trust Our Electronic Voting Machines? states:
 
The most important among the "insiders" are the manufacturers of India's electronic voting machines namely, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. (ECIL). Both are wholly government owned Central public sector undertakings under the administrative control of the government of India.
 
In implementing the electronic voting machine regime, BEL and ECIL have in turn engaged the services of many others including foreign companies manufacturing microcontrollers (commonly referred to as chips) and private players and outsourcing agencies (some of which allegedly having political connections) for carrying out checking and maintenance of electronic voting machines during elections. They all are a source of potential hazard.
 
Another group that has a major role in maintaining the integrity of the voting machines is district administration in whose custody the EVMs are stored throughout their life cycle. As the same voting machines are commonly used in the same district over several elections, there are concerns regarding the security of the voting machines often stored in a decentralised manner in several locations in a district.
 
"Secret" Software Revealed to Foreign Companies: 
 
Shockingly, the EVM manufacturers, namely BEL and ECIL have shared the "top secret" software programming code used in the electronic voting machines with foreign manufacturers (Microchip, USA and Renesas, Japan) to have it fused (copied) onto the microprocessors. These chips are then delivered to BEL and ECIL through their local vendors as 'masked' microchips (in case of ECIL) or 'One Time Programmable Read Only Memory (OTP-ROM)' microchips (in case of BEL).
 
As the microchips delivered to the manufacturers are 'masked' or 'OTP-ROM', when the microchips are delivered, the EVM manufacturers have no facility to read back the contents in the microchips to establish whether the microchips supplied to them have the original software or not. Manufacturers of EVMs, BEL and ECIL can only carry out functionality tests on the electronic voting machines to check whether they are working properly or not. They cannot detect if the microchips supplied to them have malicious programming. To say the least, this is shocking.
 
If the microchips in the electronic voting machines contain malicious software (commonly referred to as Trojan), elections results can be manipulated easily.
 
Malicious programming can remain dormant during normal testing processes, but get activated later at the time of elections. This would result in an election fraud that can neither be detected before elections nor proved after elections.
 
Curiously, BEL and ECIL could have done the 'fusing' of the software onto microcontrollers in their own premises in a secure manner. That being the case, why did they prefer to do this in a foreign country? At whose instance was this decision taken and what were the compelling reasons for taking the decision? Was the Election Commission responsible for taking this decision? If no, did it approve of the decision by the manufacturers? And, was it at least aware of it?
 
Despite repeated queries, there are no answers forthcoming from the Election Commission to any of these questions.
 
According to the RTI replies given by the Election Commission, the software program (referred to as source code) in the EVMs is not available with it. The expert committee of the Election Commission, headed by Prof PV Indiresan, which approved the EVMs currently in use in elections, has done "black box testing". This means that the committee did not examine and certify the software program in the EVMs. It is the software in the EVMs that drives all its functions. By apparently not examining the software and merely relying on functionality tests, the Expert Committee has left a gaping hole in the security of the EVMs. This is horrifying.
 
(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”.)

 

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COMMENTS

Banu Prakash A S

4 days ago

Do repolling with paper ballots

Ishan JJ

6 days ago

When there are so many questions; it's essential for ECI to prove their point to restore the faith of people in democracy. One easy way is to count all the VVPATs instead of just 5%, but commission refused it by saying it will take 6 long days to count all the VVPATs. Constitutionally it was given the work to conduct free, fair and transparent Elections, but claiming the time taken instead of restoring the faith in Election process in itself create doubts over the intensions of ECI. Moreover the bias and mockery of MCC adds more impetus over the opposition's claims.

NANDAKUMAR M S

6 days ago

When election commission has openly invited people to demonstrate the fallibility of the machines, none came forward! While flash memory might be reprogrammable there is no explanation how the 'contact' will be made in the absence of USB, BT or any other means. Considering lakhs of machines, it is not explained if it is even feasible!

Mahesh S Bhatt

6 days ago

No system is perfect Vinita Deshmukh.Being a Cyber Security & Insider Breach forensics Auditor we believe we are talking more with less facts.This time's 5% physical verification of VVPAT's slips confirms.Mahesh Bhatt Kirticorp

David M. Thangliana

1 week ago

If our election system cannot be trusted, why go to all the trouble and expense of conducting huge and multi-stage elections? It is very troubling when such news as this published. Let us cross our fingers and hope that India's greatest strength, its democracy, has not gone down the drain and that the Indian masses are not going through a farcical democratic process every five years.

B. KRISHNAN

1 week ago

Election Commission openly challenged anyone to prove that the EVM can be manipulated. Where were all these technical experts then? We have to understand that every man-made machine has its limitations. It is not as though that no manipulation took place before the advent of EVMs. In fact those days it was worse! Just because some "expert" has now pointed out some as yet unproven loopholes, is it proper to demonise the entire operation of election of such magnitude? Some of our countrymen are eager to paint our country in bad light, just because the present dispensation does not suit them!

REPLY

Hem Anth

In Reply to B. KRISHNAN 1 week ago

Well, Mr. Krishnan, what we're talking about here is of huge consequence, elections being once-in 5 year affair. As individuals our lives may not come apart during this period but the people of this nation or of a state, as the case might be, have to put up with the government they "supposedly" elected. If you ask how worst can things get, i'll quote the most disastrous example in history. Post world war 1, the Nazi govt headed by Hitler actually LOST in their general elections but their election body was hand-in-gloves with this party and falsely declared Hitler's Nazi party as the victor (I'm not cooking this up. You can search on the internet to read the annals of german politics) . Needless to say what ensued in the years to come. Germany was so badly battered that it was reduced to a pile of rubble everywhere. So anything that concerns national interest SHOULD be held in strict scrutiny and there's nothing to "demonize' if anybody questions the sanctity of the election process.

Pankaj Sinha

In Reply to Hem Anth 1 week ago

I totally agree with B Krishnan when he asks where were all the experts when ECI threw an open challenge to any one to come and hack the EVMs. Hem Anth, when quoting Nazi' manipulating election results after world war is actually favouring the earlier period of booth capturing and buying voters. Five EVM's comparison with VVPAT with no difference stands testimony of fair and unbiased elections in the country. It has become a fashion to continuously blain EVMs in the name of so called democracy in danger. But unfortunately, no one, till date, is able to prove any point. Every one is only shooting in the dark in anticipation on a glimpse of hope by huck or by crook. My humble request is to have faith in ECI untill some one proves it wrong with proof.

B. KRISHNAN

In Reply to Pankaj Sinha 6 days ago

People who whine about EVMs are those who are unable to stomach the resounding win of NDA despite their false propagandada!

Manoj

1 week ago

Awesome news. Kudos to the activists who continue to pursue this critical issue without fear of their liberty and lives.

Wajidtara

1 week ago

100 % agreed with your one time program chip but, the actual program was made at the time of pulwama attack and celebrate the victory in advance.

1 week ago

Madam, give me only 10 minutes to nail the EC "tamper-proof" EVM claim in your office.

Mahalakshmi Venkatram

1 week ago

If there is no issue in EVM or VVPAT one can be fair enough to tell the people, when they were asking for 100 % VVPAT or Ballot papers should be made available. Why create such a commotion and doubts in everybody 's mind. Making only 5% VVPAT available raises doubts. If one is open and clear no one should fear from anyone nor hide things.

Mahalakshmi Venkatram

1 week ago

If there is no issue in EVM or VVPAT one can be fair enough to tell the people, when they were asking for 100 % VVPAT or Ballot papers should be made available. Why create such a commotion and doubts in everybody 's mind. Making only 5% VVPAT available raises doubts. If one is open and clear no one should fear from anyone nor hide things.

SANJEEV

1 week ago

Instead of making allegations via sensational articles, is there no independent, believable expert in this country who can stand up and say : EVMs can be manipulated and I can show the world? Or : why don't the opposition parties stand together, create a corpus fund to have the technology in EVMs analysed by international experts who will show us EVMs can be hacked or manipulated ? When a party wins an election, EVMs become reliable. When a party loses, they cast aspersions. Media joins the party wanting clickbait!!

REPLY

In Reply to SANJEEV 1 week ago

Oh yes, I have been saying that I can nail the EC claim in 10 minutes for the last 10 years now, since the machines were introduced, but the media does not give me a chance. I am an engineer with decades of experience in industry, but our media people think they are the final authority on tech issues. Pathetic.

Pankaj Sinha

In Reply to 1 week ago

Oh really, I don't believe. Why don't you go to the ECI directl and why are you looking for any media house to sponcer you. Or you are also one of those liberals or Khan Market Gang who don't move an inch without getting some thing in return.

Raghuram J C

In Reply to 1 week ago

What stopped you from accepting the challenge of EC? If such conspiratorial theories are floated without an inch of substantiating credibility of oneself, god only can save us. Instead of maligning the institutions, you should help to make the system better, if there is an iota of truth in what you proclaim yourself to be.

shadi katyal

2 weeks ago

It is unfortunate that while EC has failed miserably in allowing not only tickets to criminals or people with criminal cases pending ,It has failed to the nation as far EVM are concerned. Looking back at this election, it is evident that ECI failed all round.
Would we known as one of Banana Republics or need UN and other nations to supervise our elections.
One doubt if ruling party will make any amendmernts or changes in the present rules about ECI

Abhik Mukherjee

2 weeks ago

However, VVPAT reconciliation reduces this risk substantially.

REPLY

Tehemton Marker

In Reply to Abhik Mukherjee 2 weeks ago

The above article by Vinita Deshmukh is frightening to say the least. It shows that it is possible to manipulate the Electronic Voting Machines to obtain desired results.
The technical details given must be highlighted by more technically competent people to awaken the Indian voter and make people demand a re-election after installing more fool-proof devices in the EVMs. Not an easy task certainly but if the judiciary is convinced of its necessity, it can be done. We need to do whatever is required to protect our democratic right to free and FAIR elections. Silloo Marker

In Reply to Tehemton Marker 1 week ago

We are very, very gullible people. We laugh at people who believe in black magic, superstitions etc but we have let ourselves to be misled by EVM babas. We blindly accept the word of anyone in authority be they journos, officials, bureaucrats, economists, businessmen or politicians.

Will It Be A Case of Despair Amid Hope for RTI Act in Modi Government II?
‘Development’ and ‘governance’ are once again the two most used words as the second innings of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is about to begin. In his speech after winning the elections he stated, "Ab hamara koyi paraaya nahin ho sakta hai. Jo humein vote dete hain, woh bhi hamare hain; jo hamara ghor virodh karte hain, who bhi hamare hain. (Now we cannot see anyone as an outsider. Those who voted for us are ours. Those who severely oppose us are also ours). This statement gives us hope that the Right to Information Act (RTI) will get the right respect, as transparency in information is the biggest strength of democracy that gives the citizen a feeling of `belonging’ with its government.
 
In fact, when the NDA government came to power in 2014, there were high expectations that the RTI Act would receive a boost. Soon after the government took over, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) issued a circular to all public authorities stating that the facility to upload the reply to RTI applications and first appeals on the website of the respective ministry or department should be started from October 31, to be available for all to view. Thereafter at the National CIC Convention in 2016, home minister Rajnath Singh in his speech stated that ``Government must be sensitive, corruption-free and accountable to people of the country. Thus, importance of RTI in these times has increased more than ever. It is an effective and strong mode of communication between people and the government.’’
 
However, as the NDA term progressed, it somersaulted on its own commitment. The RTI Act began getting strangulated systematically and cold-bloodedly. So, here’s wishing that NDA II will reverse some of its decisions that have been detrimental to transparency and have put information, which the public has the right to know, under secrecy. 
 
Till then, let’s have a look at the RTI’s killing fields from 2014 to 2019:
1. Mandatory public disclosures reduced to a bare minimum: As per a report in 2018 of the Central Information Commission (CIC), over 85% of the public authorities (PAs) have been reluctant to ensure mandatory disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI Act. This includes crucial information that needs to be suo motu transparent like “budget and programme, publicity and public interface and E-governance.’’ This despite the much tom-tommed circular by the DoPT.
 
2. Deliberate negligence in appointing Central Information Commissioners: With four CIC posts vacant and second appeal pendency increasing by the day, not the government that promised to strengthen the RTI Act, but it is the Supreme Court, which came to the rescue. Based on the petition of activists Anjali Bharadwaj, Amrita Johri and Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd) in 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) directed the Centre to publish names, criteria and other details of search committee’s work so far for appointments to the Central Information Commission, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. 
 
3. Appointing only retired bureaucrats as CICs: Again in February 2019, the SC slammed the government, observing: ``It is difficult to fathom that persons belonging to one category only are always found to be more competent and more suitable than persons belonging to other categories. One category, namely, public service, i.e., they are the government employees. In fact, even the search committee, which short-lists the candidates, consists of only bureaucrats. For these reasons, official bias in favour of its own class is writ large in the selection process…We also expect that information commissioners are appointed from other streams, as mentioned in the Act and the selection is not limited only to the government employee/ex-government employee.
 
4. Government allegedly protecting accused in RTI whistle blower’s case: the Bombay High Court closed the sensational murder case of RTI activist Satish Shetty in January 2010 abruptly in 2019. This, despite CBI's (Central Bureau of Investigation's) intensive investigation into the murder that had led to a 10,000-page report that named 11 persons as accused, including a high-profile name like Virendra Mhaiskar, managing director of Ideal Road Builders (IRB). Surprisingly, CBI itself appealed to the High Court to hurriedly bring closure to the case, stating there is no evidence against Mhaiskar and the other accused. Strange and unfair to the whistleblower’ fraternity!
 
5. NDA govt puts Official Secrets Act over and above RTI Act: In March 2019, during a hearing in the Supreme Court regarding the Rafale deal case, Attorney General K K Venugopal had stated that the documents presented by the petitioners are protected by the Official Secrets Act and disclosure of the documents come under Section 8(i) of the RTI Act. To this, Justice K M Joseph responded that Section 22 of the RTI Act states that it is over and above the Official Secrets Act and that Section 24 of the RTI Act states that security and intelligence agencies are not exempt from the RTI Act. RTI Act states: `Section (8) (2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.”
 
6. Private companies in PPT model shielded under Section 8 of the RTI Act: For example, recently, the Adani group won rights to operate, manage and develop airports of Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore by offering highest per-passenger fee (PPF), which is paid by the developer to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) of the relevant state. Unlike the Delhi and Mumbai airports, wherein the GMR and the GVK groups have entered into a 74:26 joint venture (JV) with AAI and have to share profits, the Adani group has been handed over the airports completely for itself for 50 years under the public- private partnership (PPP) model. Information under RTI is not forthcoming despite RTI activist Sanjay Shirodkar’s efforts.
 
With such a disappointing track record, one hopes for miracles by the government but in all probability citizens and activists will have to keep fighting and campaigning to keep this powerful citizen-friendly law, alive and kicking!
 
(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”.)
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COMMENTS

Veeresh

2 weeks ago

Personal hearings in context with RTI have become insults to self-respect in most cases and downright dangerous in some. The Public Grievance portal option for larger public good can be considered a more viable option though there too the tendency by the babus is to provide useless answers unless probed repetitively. Good luck to us, let's see what the PM says in his next message, because service delivery on the public grievance mechanism was supposed to be one of three priorities in 2014.

CIC Asks I-T Department To Provide Cambata Aviation’s Balance Sheet under RTI
In August 2016, Mumbai-based Cambata Aviation Pvt Ltd, one of the oldest ground services-provider at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, closed its operation without paying over 2,000 of its employees, their salaries and provident fund, which amounted to over Rs100 crore. This led to the state government filing a criminal complaint against the company.
 
Aggrieved by non-receipt of his salary, an employee, Subramanian Ansari sought information from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in the office of deputy commissioner of income-tax (I-T) for certified copy of Cambata Aviation’s balance sheet and profit and loss account for 10 years from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2017. He also asked for copies of the I-T department’s correspondence regarding closure of the company.
 
The CPIO, however, denied disclosure of information under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act 2005. When Mr Ansari filed his first appeal, the first appellate authority (FAA) directed the CPIO to contact the third party, that is, Cambata Aviation and request it to make a submission in writing regarding whether the information sought should be disclosed. Predictably, the company objected to the disclosure of information.
 
Mr Ansari’s second appeal to the information commission came up for hearing, one and a half years later, on 18 April 2019. The CIC ordered the I-T office to promptly disclose all information to Mr Ansari, as it found the CPIO wrongfully taking shelter under Section 8 of the RTI Act. 
 
The order issued by CIC Bimal Jhulka says, “Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, it is the considered view of the Commission that it cannot be a mute spectator to the pitiable conditions being faced by the employees of the aviation company, which is seeking shelter under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. Therefore, considering the sensitivities of the matter as also in the light of the criticality of sustenance issues faced by its employees, the Commission instructs the respondent (the income tax department) to disclose point wise information as held and available with them to the appellant (Ansari)…in the larger public interest.’’
 
As per the argument put forth by RTI applicant Mr Ansari during the CIC hearing, “Cambata Aviation had deprived salary and wages to more than 2,100 employees since March 2016 on the pretext of bad condition of finance and loss in the business resulting in extreme financial hardships to him and hundreds of other employees.”
 
He further alleged that the company was also willfully defaulting in payment of statutory dues of provident fund (PF), sales tax (ST), insurance, employees state insurance corp (ESIC) and credit society.
 
Mr Ansari was employed with Cambata Aviation at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai since 1 March 1996 and had not received salary since March 2016. 
 
The CIC observed in his order that, “…the company had deprived salary since March 2016 to its more than 2,100 employees on the pretext of bad condition of finance and loss in the business. On the other hand the company had given increments in January 2014, and recruited more than 800 employees in the year 2014 and 2015, which was a contradictory activity of Cambata Aviation.
 
“Furthermore the company had not issued Form No. 16 for the period from 2014-15, to 2016-17 to its 2,100 employees, which aroused suspicion and compelled him (Mr Ansari) to file a RTI application for financial statements, which could unearth the scam of his company such as willfully defaulting statutory dues of PF, ST, insurance, ESIC and credit society.’’ 
 
Mr Ansari was denied personal hearing for his first appeal due to which CIC Jhulka felt this raised suspicion in Mr Ansari’s mind that the “CPIO and FAA were indirectly helping Cambata Aviation under the pretext of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005.”
 
The CIC pointed out that information sought by Mr Ansari was clearly in the larger public interest and so cannot come under denial of information section. He cited the Supreme Court case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs Central Information Commission &Ors.
 
SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 dated 03/10/2012, which stated: “the details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are ‘personal information’, which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1)of the RTI Act, unless it involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”
 
The CIC order will hopefully, be implemented by the I-T department and provide ground for employees like Mr Ansari to further their cause.
 
(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”.)
 
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Ashley Christopher Pereira

2 weeks ago

Have always doubted these election results. Convinced now that they have been manipulated! More skeletons will tumble out in the coming days. THIS IS A MURDER OF DEMOCRACY!

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