Third party clause of the RTI Act: Should denial of information be accepted by the PIO?

Under Section 11 of the RTI Act, the PIO is required to get back to the person (third party) whose confidential records like I-T returns or passport details are being sought. Does that mean the PIO can take the ‘objection’ of this third party as an excuse to refuse information?

Early this year in January, V Gopalkrishnan, a Chennai-based Right to Information (RTI) activist had sought details of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's income tax returns from 2000 to 2011. The Public Information Officer (PIO), Income tax, New Delhi wrote to Sonia Gandhi asking her to respond to the request made by Mr Gopalkrishnan. She flatly refused the information stating it is an intrusion into personal freedom and does not involve public interest. She also stated that it involves a security risk. The PIO in turn declined information to Mr Gopalkrishnan.

In May this year, Anil Galgali, a Mumbai-based RTI activist had sought details of the penalty that cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar had paid for occupying his new bungalow in Bandra in September 2011 without possessing the required occupancy certificate. The Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) reverted to Sachin Tendulkar under Section 11 which requires the PIO to seek opinion of the person whose personal information is being sought. Mr Tendulkar too declined making this information public. The BMC in turn denied information to Mr Galgali who said that the PIO has violated the RTI Act as he had asked for details of fine collected by the BMC and that is public information.

Did the PIOs err in their decisions? Considering that Section 11 is "a procedural requirement that gives third party an opportunity to voice an objection in releasing the information", there have been several orders by the Central Information Commissions which have overruled rejection of information by PIOs after the "third party" declined making it public. These include decisions against denial of information of 'net' income tax details of individuals. A CIC order in case of passport details explains the larger picture indicating that Sonia Gandhi's and Sachin Tendulkar's denial to the PIO to make information public need not have been taken as the last word by the PIO.

The case relates to that of Dehradun-based Anita Singh who had sought details of Ajit Singh's passport details from the PIO, passport office, Bareilly in August 2011. After she was denied information due to objection by the "third party" the PIO took the shelter of Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act to deny information. She then filed a second appeal with Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi in March 2012.

In May 2012, Shailesh Gandhi argued that:

•   PIO uses Section 11 when he intends to provide information and not deny it: "The PIO is expected to follow the procedure of Section 11 when he "intends to disclose any information or record". This means that the PIO has come to the conclusion that the information is not exempt as per the provisions of the RTI Act."

•    Section 11 gives only an 'opportunity' to the third party to voice its objections to disclosing information: "Section 11 (1) clearly states that submission of third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information."

•    The PIO will weigh the situation and make his own decision: "The PIO will keep these in mind and denial of information can only be on the basis of exemption under Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. As per Section 11 (3), the PIO has to determine the whether the information is exempt or not and inform the appellant and the third party of his decision. If the third party wishes to appeal against the decision of the PIO, he can file an appeal under Section 19 of the Act as per the provision of Section 11 (4)."  

•    The third party's denial cannot be the last word: "Section 11 does not give a third party an unrestrained veto to refuse disclosing information. It clearly anticipates situations where the PIO will not agree with the claim for non-disclosure by a third party and provides for an appeal to be made by the third party against disclosure, which would have been unnecessary, if the third party had been given a veto against disclosure. Thus the PIO is expected to follow the procedure of Section 11, when he intends to disclose the information but has some reason to believe that the third party treats it as confidential. If the third party sends an objection, the PIO has to determine whether the information is exempt under the provisions of the Act."

•    PIO can take the shelter of Section 8 (1) (j) for declining information only if it is a purely personal information. States Mr Gandhi's order: "To qualify for this exemption the information must satisfy the following criteria: 1. It must be personal information… In common language we would ascribe the adjective 'personal' to an attribute which applies to an individual and not to an institution or a corporate. From this it flows that 'personal' cannot be related to institutions, organisations or corporates. Hence Section 8 (1) (j) cannot be applied when the information concerns institutions, organisations or corporates."

•    Public authorities in routine course take personal information of citizens: "The phrase 'disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest' means that the information must have been given in the course of a public activity. Various public authorities in performing their functions routinely ask for 'personal' information from citizens, and this is clearly a public activity.  When a person applies for a job, or gives information about himself to a public authority as an employee, or asks for a permission, licence or authorization or passport, all these are public activities. Also when a citizen provides information in discharge of a statutory obligation this too is a public activity."

•   Citizen's right to information is given priority with regard to privacy: "The Supreme Court of India has ruled that citizens have a right to know about charges against candidates for elections as well as details of their assets, since they desire to offer themselves for public service. It is obvious then that those who are public servants cannot claim exemption from disclosure of charges against them or details of their assets. Given our dismal record of mis-governance and rampant corruption which colludes to deny citizens their essential rights and dignity, it is in the fitness of things that the citizen's right to information is given greater primacy with regard to privacy."

•    In extraordinary situations there are other laws which apply to secure privacy of information: "We can also look at this from another aspect. The State has no right to invade the privacy of an individual. There are some extraordinary situations where the State may be allowed to invade the privacy of a citizen. In those circumstances special provisions of the law apply; usually with certain safeguards. Therefore where the State routinely obtains information from citizens, this information is in relationship to a public activity and will not be an intrusion on privacy. "

Shailesh Gandhi, while passing the order that Ameeta Singh has every right to get information about Ajit Singh's passport details, he concludes that, "Certain human rights such as liberty, freedom of expression or right to life are universal and therefore would apply uniformly to all human beings worldwide. However, the concept of 'privacy' is a cultural notion, related to social norms, and different societies would look at these differently. Therefore referring to the UK Data Protection Act or the laws of other countries to define 'privacy' cannot be considered a valid exercise to constrain the citizen's fundamental right to information in India."

What does exemption of information under Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act mean?
Under Section 8 (1) (j) information which has been exempted is defined as:
"information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information"

What is Section 11?
Section 11 of the RTI act, which is the basis on which the information is sought to be denied to the appellant in the present case, lays down:
"11.     (1)     Where a Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information:
Provided that except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.

(2)     Where a notice is served by the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under sub-section (1) to a third party in respect of any information or record or part thereof, the third party shall, within ten days from the date of receipt of such notice, be given the opportunity to make representation against the proposed disclosure.

(3)     Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within forty days after receipt of the request under Section 6, if the third party has been given an opportunity to make representation under sub-section (2), make a decision as to whether or not to disclose the information or record or part thereof and give in writing the notice of his decision to the third party.

(4)     A notice given under sub-section (3) shall include a statement that the third party to whom the notice is given is entitled to prefer an appeal under section 19 against the decision."

 

Do you have a RTI experience to narrate?

YASHADA, Pune, has organised an innovative contest for all citizens in the state of Maharashtra -"RTI Use Experience Writing Contest 2012". For details click here: http://www.yashada.org/pdfs/rti_week_pressnote_august_2012.pdf


 

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    COMMENTS

    Ashok Das

    7 years ago

    If Shri Ajit Singh's (or for that matter anyone's) Passport details are to be made available under RTI then Is Mrs Sonia Gandhi's (or anyone's) Income Tax Returns, which is asked by a Public Authority for submission, to be obtained under RTI? Has this question been suitably answered here or somewhere else?

    Judiciary snubs bulky, vague information asked under RTI

    The court orders that in the backdrop of too much and vague information asked for by the citizen, providing copies of 3,419 pages in 30 days is an ‘impossible’ task for the Public Information Officer

    In 2010, when I asked for the contract agreement between Ideal Road Builders (IRB) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the operation and maintenance of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, which ran into 800 odd pages, I was provided the copy within two days.

     

    Recently, in a Leave Patent Appeal (LPA) filed before a division bench of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court by the State Information Commissioner, First Appellate Authority and Public Information Officer (PIO), the judge ordered that 3,419 pages of information was ‘impossible’ for the Public Information Officer to provide within the statutory 30 days. The order states that the information sought by the RTI applicant was vague, making it difficult for the PIO to collect the information and furnish it within the stipulated time. It also questioned the motive of the RTI applicant in seeking information, deeming his intentions as “malafide intentions”.

     

    Let’s see what the RTI applicant asked for in his application

     

    Tushar Mandlekar, a Nagpur resident, asked for documents relating to illegal registrations of imported vehicles and taxes evaded by their owners. He addressed his application to Transport Commissioner’s office, Mumbai. However, he asked much more information which is as follows:

     

    (1) It is reported in the Lokmat newspaper that a large number of imported vehicles were registered illegally and the taxes were evaded. Kindly give the copy of the letters written by the transport secretary to the transport commissioner and vice versa. (Kindly give the copies of the entire communication between the office of transport secretary and the office of transport commissioner).

     

    (2) Kindly give the copies of all the complaints/directions received by your office from ministers, NGOs, MLA, MLC, individuals or any other person in this regard.

     

    (3) Kindly also give the preliminary report sent by the transport commissioner in this regard to the government.

     

     (4) Kindly give the copies of all the letters/communication made by the DRI officials with your office.

     

    (5) Kindly give the copies of the show-cause notices sent if any to the Motor Vehicle Inspectors/officers.

     

    (6) Kindly give the copies of the reply of motor vehicle officers received if any by your department in this regard.

     

    (7) Is it true that your office has initiated the steps to give the enquiry to the CBI? If yes then kindly give the copies of all such letters, files and records of decisions made by the transport department.

     

     (8) Kindly also give the amount of estimated loss of customs, octroi, excise duty, road tax caused to the state exchequer because of the illegal registration of the imported vehicles.

     

    (9) Kindly give the procedure and rules in registration of imported vehicles along with the list if requisite documents.

     

    (10) Kindly give the copies of the complaints made by your department to the police in this regard.

     

    (11) Kindly give the list of the vehicles along with the vehicle numbers which were found to have evaded the necessary taxes.

     

    What happened next?
     

    Mr Mandlekar did not receive his information within the stipulated 30 days. So, he filed an appeal with the First Appellate Authority (FAA) stating that under the rules of Section 19 (1) he should get information free of cost and the PIO should be penalised.
     

    Meanwhile, a day later than the stipulated 30 days, the PIO sent a reply to Mr Mandlekar’s RTI application stating that he needs to pay Rs3,310 as charges for copies of information that ran into 3,419 pages. He received this reply a few days after the stipulated 30 days. The FAA ordered the PIO to provide the information free of cost. However, the PIO did not oblige.
     

    So, Mr Mandlekar filed the second appeal with the State Information Commissioner (SIC) who rejected his appeal. Mr Mandlekar then filed a writ petition against the order of the SIC. The single judge of the Nagpur division of the Bombay High Court ordered the PIO to provide Mr Mandlekar the information in 10 days.
     

    Unsatisfied with the high court order, the SIC along with the AA and PIO made a petition to the Leave Patent Appeal (LPA) division bench of the Nagpur division of the Bombay High Court. The judge slammed Mr Mandlekar for seeking voluminous information. The order stated: “It is apparent from a reading of what is stated above that instead of seeking information on some specific issues, the respondent sought general information on scores of matters. The application is vague and the application does not make it clear to the information officer as to what information is actually sought by the respondent from the officer.

     

    “It was literally impossible for the appellants, as pointed by the learned assistant government pleader to supply the entire information sought by the respondent to the respondent within a period of 30 days. The documents ran into 3,419 pages.

     

    “We had asked the respondent while hearing of this letters patent appeal as to what action did the respondent take in pursuance of the information sought by the respondent after the information was supplied and it was replied by the respondent appearing in person that nothing was done on the basis of the information supplied by the appellants as there was some delay in supplying the information.

     

    “It is really surprising that thousands of documents are being sought by the respondent from the authorities and none of the documents is admittedly brought into use. We are clearly of the view in the aforesaid backdrop that the application was filed with a mala fide intention and with a view to abuse the process of law.”

     

    What could have been the ideal solution?

     

    The Transport Commissioner’s office is required to regularly upload such information on its website as it comes under pro-active disclosure as per Section 4 of the RTI Act

     

    RTI experts opine that, while ‘intentions’ of the RTI applicant for seeking information are not mentioned in the RTI Act, experts say that, what the applicant asked for came under the suo motu proactive disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act but thanks to the public authority, in this case the Maharashtra Transport Commissioner’s office not uploading such information in the public domain, the citizen applicant has had to bear the brunt of a harsh court order and against his favour.

     

    RTI applicants should be precise in the information they ask for

     

    At the same time, experts comment that it should be lessons for RTI applicants to be precise with the information they seek and not ask unnecessarily seek lengthy information. In this case, the court observed that despite the department having assigned half a dozen persons to procure the information, it was difficult to coordinate it. The judgment states: “Officers were required to search and collect the information, which was required to be supplied to the applicant. We find that the information sought by the respondent and reproduced in this judgment was so general and extensive that it could not have been found out within a couple of days or even within a fortnight in spite of the best efforts of half a dozen persons working in that direction.”

     

    “It is apparent from a reading of what is stated above that instead of seeking information on some specific issues, the respondent sought general information on scores of matters. The application is vague and the application does not make it clear to the Information Officer as to what information is actually sought by the respondent from the officer. It was literally impossible for the appellants, as pointed by the learned assistant government pleader.”

     

    Following are excerpts from the Leave Patent Appeal (LPA) judgment in a chronological order:

    • • The last date for supplying the information free of costs was 23 August 2009. It appears that the appellant had issued a communication to the respondent, dated 20 August 2009 and posted on 24 August 2009, asking the respondent to pay an amount of Rs3,310 for the information sought by the respondent, the documents of which ran into nearly 3,419 pages. The appellants did not furnish the information within a period of 30 days
    • • The respondent filed an appeal under Section 19 (1) of the Act as the desired information was not supplied. The appeal was allowed and the first appellate authority directed the appellants to furnish the information free of costs to the respondent
    • • The respondent filed a second appeal, but the same was dismissed
    • • The respondent filed Writ Petition No.3818/2010, challenging the order of the State Information Commissioner and seeking a direction to the appellants to furnish the desired information free of costs as per the original application. A further direction to pay a penalty of Rs25,000 under the provisions of Section 20 of the Act was also sought
    • • The judge partly allowed the writ petition by the judgment, dated 26 November 2010 in appeal and directed the appellants to supply the information to the respondent free of costs within a period of ten days. The judge also imposed costs of Rs2,000 on the appellants
    • • Being aggrieved by the order, the appellants have preferred the present letters patent appeal
    • • Mr Kale, the assistant government pleader appearing on behalf of the appellants submitted that the information sought by the respondent ran into almost 3,419 pages and it was humanly impossible for appellants to provide the information to the respondent within a period of 30 days
    • • The assistant government pleader submitted that though it is necessary for the Public Information Officer to supply the information within a period of 30 days, the law would not compel a party to do that what is impossible
    • • It is submitted that it was impossible for the appellants to furnish the information running into 3,419 pages within a period of 30 days. In any case, according to the assistant government pleader, the period of 30 days expired on 23 August 2009 and the letter asking the respondent to pay the necessary charges for supplying the information was issued on the very next day on 24 August 2009
    • • In the facts and circumstances of the case, according to the assistant government pleader, the judge ought not to have imposed costs of Rs2,000 on the Public Information Officer.
    • • On hearing the counsel for the parties and on perusal of the application under Section 6 of the Act, it appears that the application was not made with a bona fide intention and the respondent had misused the provisions of the Act by seeking the information. It appears on a reading of the application that the time period relating to the information extended from 1 January 2001 to 24 July 2009

      Mandlekar's submission in the court which did not hold water

      PIO should have supplied information within 30 days: The provisions of Sections 7 and 20 of the RTI Act were referred to point out that it was necessary for the Public Information Officer (PIO) to supply the information within a period of 30 days, failing which the PIO was liable to supply the same to the respondent free of costs and was also liable to pay penalty for each day till the date of supply of the information
      PIO should have been penalized: The single judge ought to have imposed penalty of Rs 25,000 on the PIO and since the same was not imposed, he had filed a letters patent appeal, which has been rejected.

      (Details of the case: Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in The State Information Commissioner, Mr Satish Sahasrabuddhe and Mr AN Bhalchandra Vs Tushar Dhananjay Mandlekar in LPA NO.276/2012 in WP NO.3818/2010 (D)

     

    (Vinita Deshmukh is the 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. She can be reached at [email protected].)

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    COMMENTS

    Dayananda Kamath k

    7 years ago

    it is such over enthusiasm by many of the rti activists that is harming the system of improving the governance. give opportunity to the babus to take refuge under such technical points and frustrate the genuine rti quiries. I have a case with rbi where appellate authroty questioned the information provided by pio. defeating the very purpose of appellate authroity. information given by pioio

    drsharmilaraopn

    7 years ago

    The entire RTI application can be split into three, the best way to function is like you are commanding an robot.
    This is to quote the consumer court.

    Black Mamba

    7 years ago

    Very informative.

    Split the RTI into many small RTIs and send to the PIO after intervals of 15 days each so that the objections raised by the PIO are diluted.

    The more important task is to get the sought information and succeed in the objective for which the RTI was filed.

    I volunteer myself to ask part of the information if so desired.

    Quidam

    7 years ago

    It's a Letters Patent Appeal, not a LEAVE Patent Appeal. That's obvious even from the quotation of the HC order: "We had asked the respondent while hearing of this letters patent appeal ..." Is there some problem with getting this right? It might seem unimportant, but it's not, simply because there's no such thing as "leave patent appeal". Mistakes like this are a disservice to the reader and the publication both.

    MOHAN

    7 years ago

    The Sarkari Babus are systematically killing the RTI Act.

    REPLY

    drsharmilaraopn

    In Reply to MOHAN 7 years ago

    kho

    Ration card frauds can be exposed through RTI

    Last year Maharashtra government had provided close to 42 lakh bogus ration cards, reveals a RTI. These things are taking mafia colours, as is evident in the case of a Mumbai-based RTI activist who was assaulted for seeking info on ration card frauds

    Last week, an untoward incident took place in Mumbai wherein RTI (Right to Information) activist Mahendra Thakur was seriously assaulted with iron rods and bricks by fair price (ration) shopkeepers of Mumbai for having invoked the RTI Act to get information on the foodgrain supplies to the shops in the Varsha Nagar area of Vikhroli. Earlier, he tried to get information from shopkeepers themselves but they got into a heated argument with him and hence he had decided to take the RTI route. Strongly condemning this incident, former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has recommended that, “he should file a complaint with the SIC (state information commission) and ask for support. The SIC could write to the police and the chief secretary/ home secretary of Maharashtra and a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) should also be filed.”

     

    Very importantly, if ration card holders, who do not get their quota of foodgrain or are harassed for procuring their ration card use RTI then RTI activists would be less under threat and assault. An increasing number of RTI applications in the food and civil supplies department would put pressure on the authorities and the fair price shopkeepers, too, as both allegedly work in nexus, most of the time. In order to invoke RTI for a ration card, you have to send your application to the food & civil supplies department.

     

    Such an effort by an individual was highlighted in MoneyLife last year (18-year-old’s persistence leads to mandatory stock disclosure for fair price shops in Gujarat: http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/18619.html). Teenager Bhadresh Wamja of Saldi village in Gujarat had used RTI to not only to ensure that the two fair price shops in his village distribute foodgrain to every ration card holder but it inspired the state government to announce a mandatory rule for every Public Distribution System (PDS) shopkeeper to compulsorily put up details of his weekly stock supplies for public display.

     

    NGOs and RTI groups should also chip in by helping individuals to file RTI in the ration card issue. Way back in 2004, social reformer Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO Parivartan had helped a daily wager to procure his duplicate ration card (he had lost his original one). A resident of a slum area in East Delhi, he made several rounds of the local food & supplies office for a good three months but the officials ignored his request. With the help of Parivartan, he filed a RTI application seeking information on “the daily progress made on his application, names of the officials who were supposed to act on his application and what action would be taken against these officials”. Within a week of filing the application, an inspector from the department visited his house and asked him to collect his card from the office. That was of course when the RTI Act was very new and was yet to become a national Act. Much water has flown down the track ever since, but an interesting recent research conducted by students of a US university showed that even the underprivileged can get their rightful ration cards very effectively by using the RTI route.

     

    Sometimes, ration card holders are denied their rightful quota due to error in technology. In 2011, Sandeep Gupta had received information under RTI that rations have been stopped to 44,172 ration card holders in Delhi due to an error in the computer system of the food & civil supplies department. He invoked the RTI yet again, this time asking what action has been taken against the officials for this error. Since he did not get an adequate reply from even the First Appellate Authority, he had filed an appeal to the Central Information Commissioner.  CIC Shailesh Gandhi ordered on 21 March 2011:  “It is scandalous that since computer systems and connectivity is not proper 44,172 families in Delhi which should get rations at a fixed price are unable to get them. Government policies appear to be the victim of a completely inefficient computer system.
     

    ``The Respondents also informed the Commission that a large number of cardholders (around 70000) in the category of un-reviewed cards are also suffering because of inefficient operation of the computer systems. The Commission directs the Food Commissioner to look into the disenfranchisement of over 100,000 families in Delhi because of improper functioning of the computer systems according to the respondents.

     

    “…The Commission also directs the Food Commissioner to send a compliance report to the Commission about the action taken about disenfranchisement of over 100,000 families to the Commission before 20 April 2011.”
     

    Interestingly, a research in 2010 found that use of RTI is very effective in the issue of ration cards. The two research students, Leonid Peisakhin and Paul Pinto of the Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA, conducted a field study on access to ration cards by the underprivileged in Delhi through the Right to Information Act. They chose 100 slum dwellers who had not received their ration cards or were following up on their applications. They were divided into four groups. The first group followed up their application by asking for information under RTI. The second group submitted request by a letter with a certification letter from a NGO; the third group gave their applications to a middle man who charged them Rs200 and the fourth group served as a control group as it applied under the standard format.
     

    The group of 100 slum dwellers were chosen on the following criteria: their annual income should be around Rs20,000; he or she should possess an electricity bill, a driving license, or a voter identity card for residential proof. Going door-to-door in the slum, the research team enlisted the help of about 100 individuals who consented to participate in the study. Finally, 86 participated.
     

    The research report published in late 2011 observes: “The results were striking: while those paying speed money predictably had the lowest median processing times, approximately two and a half months, virtually all those who had filed a RTI request received a ration card in a median time of approximately four months. Very few confederates in the other two experimental groups received a ration card during the one-year window when data collection was ongoing. If we discount various non-obligatory waiting periods, recourse to the RTIA is almost as effective as bribery.”
     

    The researchers have correctly observed that:  “India’s PDS—the institution responsible for the provision of subsidized food and core commodities to the public—is highly corrupt and functions more in the interest of civil servants and affiliated business owners than the poor.”
     

    The research paper also notes that: “Foodstuffs like wheat, rice, sugar, and cooking oil are purchased from farmers by government contractors and are then shipped from procurement centres to regional depots and from there to approximately 500,000 “fair-price shops”. Overall, between 15% and 61% of all subsidized food managed by the PDS goes missing on its way to the consumer. The central government spends more than 5% of its total budget on procurement of subsidized foodstuffs, up from 2.5% in the early 1990s (Jenkins & Goetz 2002). Ration card holders can obtain free or subsidized food from fair-price shops in cities or from specialized stores in the countryside. Provincial politicians regularly promise to have ration cards issued to potential voters in exchange for their electoral support. As a result, strict eligibility criteria for different types of ration card are commonly disregarded, and certain communities are oversupplied with cards, whereas many individuals in dire need of subsidized food never receive theirs. The government estimates that there are 223.2 million ration cards in circulation, although only 180.3 million households are eligible for them (Government of India, Planning Commission, 2007).”
     

    (Vinita Deshmukh is the 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. She can be reached at [email protected].)

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    COMMENTS

    make mydownloads

    2 years ago

    Find the More information ration card status

    Karthik

    2 years ago

    Same problem here in Tamil nadu most of the fair price shops are actually not intersted in showing the actual prices which was released by the tnpds online in tamil nadu. Corruption in ration card is all around in tamil nadu.

    Vaidya Dattatraya Vasudeo

    7 years ago

    I had made an application to NCDRC, for giving names of the officers who were responsible for processing my letters. The wording was " who are the officers responsible for processing of the letters ". The reply given was " it was processed by the concerned officers and the letters were taken on record ". It never mentioned the names of the persons or the details of the action taken, wasting the efforts taken by me.

    On enquiring about what recourse is available to me against the dismissal of the application. The authorities simply pointed me towards the Act.

    The institute which is suppose to help the consumers was extremely uncooperative.

    Is there any recourse against such behaviour.

    drsharmilaraopn

    7 years ago

    hi,
    Th ration card confusion is my favorite rocking horse.
    We have migrant workers with dual ration card

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