Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetables Ltd (Mother Dairy or MDFVPL) and NDDB Dairy Services (NDS), the two subsidiaries of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) are covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and Mother Dairy, being a government company, falls under the purview of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), says the government.
Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, says that it has advised NDDB to extend provisions of the RTI Act to its subsidiaries, including NDS.
Prof Manoj Kumar Jha, a member of Parliament (MP) from Rajya Sabha had asked questions about government's opinion on the status of Mother Dairy and diversion of funds by NDDB.
Citing opinion from the solicitor general of India and department of legal services, Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, minister of state for fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, says, "... in his considered opinion Mother Dairy should qualify under the semi-government’ dairy, if not a fully government dairy as all of its shareholding is government owned. A government company may either be a public company or a private one...MDFVPL, being a government company should fall under the purview of Central Vigilance Commission -CVC Act."
As Moneylife had pointed
out, although government organisations, NDDB and its subsidiaries were skilled at evading queries under the RTI Act. NDDB so far had managed a stay on the applicability of RTI and CVC Act on Mother Dairy.
In an order on 15 April 2011, the Central Information Commission had asked Mother Dairy to appoint a central public information officer (CPIO) and appellate authority (AA) as per mandate of RTI Act. The company, however, challenged the CIC order in the Delhi High Court. On 2 February 2015, the HC dismissed appeal filed by Mother Dairy.
The company, 100% subsidiary of NDDB, then challenged the single bench judgement before the divisional bench of Delhi HC, which on 17 March 2015 stayed the CIC order.
Dr Balyan, the minister of state, in his written reply in the Rajya Sabha says, "This Ministry vide letters dated 10 December 2018 and 10 July 2019 has taken a view and requested NDDB Board, which owns 100% shares of MDFVPL (Mother Dairy) to suo moto accept the orders dated 15 April 2011 and 2 February 2015 of CIC and Delhi High Court and put the decisions of Mother Dairy in public domain in the interest of transparency, accountability and also to increase trust of consumers. The decision of the Board of NDDB in this regard, is awaited."
Ideally, the ministry concerned or the regulator ought to tell these government organisations to fall in line instead of allowing them to use the slow judicial system and multiple legal challenges to avoid the RTI Act.
The minister’s statement in parliament ought to be followed up with an order to NDDB to withdraw it appeal in the Delhi High Court and adhere to the provisions of the RTI Act. That would be another battle for RTI activists to take up.
had also written how instead of taking care of farmers through the cooperative movement, NDDB has been busy ensuring the welfare of its retired senior executives through NDS
. NDDB Dairy Services was re-incorporated as a not-for-profit company in the very year that it was first incorporated as a private limited and wholly-owned subsidiary of NDDB. Immediately thereafter, the Board transferred Rs199 crore to NDDB Dairy Services, in the form of contribution of capital for purchase of equity of an equal amount.
However, NDDB continued to evade questions under RTI on the Rs200 lying in NDDB Dairy Services as equity and all income accruing thereof.
Responding to a specific question asked by Mr Jha, the MP, the government says, "NDDB has informed that it has contributed Rs200 crore towards equity of NDDB Dairy Services. The department has asked NDDB to supply a copy of the resolution of NDDB board in this regard, which is awaited. This ministry has advised NDDB to extend the provisions of the RTI Act to its subsidiary companies including NDDB Dairy Services."
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