The CIC has said that NCDEX, which trades in agricultural commodity futures, does not come under the ambit of the RTI Act and is not liable to provide any information under this legislation
The National Commodity and Derivative Exchange Ltd (NCDEX), which trades in agricultural commodity futures, does not come under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and is not liable to provide any information under it, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held, reports PTI.
The Commission said that NCDEX does not receive any direct or indirect funding by the government, one of the mandatory requirements to bring an organisation under the transparency law.
"Despite the fact that 46% of the equity capital of NCDEX is held by public sector undertakings (PSUs), NCDEX cannot be said to be a 'public authority' as there is no direct or indirect funding by an 'appropriate government'."
"We, therefore, hold that NCDEX is not a public authority and is, therefore, not liable to provide any information under the RTI Act," information commissioner ML Sharma said in a recent order.
The case pertains to Jodhpur-based RTI applicant Indubala Agrawal who sought details of some records from the exchange, which in turn rejected the request, saying it was not a public authority as per the RTI Act.
Anil Agrawal, who was representing Indubala during the hearing, pleaded before the Commission that the exchange has been "notified" vide notification under the Forward Contracts (Regulation Act), 1952.
Mr Agrawal said since NCDEX has been created by a government notification, it fulfils one of the mandatory criteria for bringing an organisation under the Act and hence it should provide all the information to him.
NCDEX, which commenced futures trading in agricultural commodities from December 2003, was 'recognised' by the government of India on the recommendation of the Future Markets Commission.
Mr Agrawal said that equity participation by public sector companies amounts to indirect government financing as its money is channelized through these companies.
Even if it is held that equity participation of PSUs is only 46%, this may be reasonably interpreted to mean "substantial financing" as mentioned in the RTI Act, the counsel said.
The CIC did not consider the argument that the exchange is created by a government notification and drew parallels with the case of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), which was earlier exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act by it.