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  1. As reported at ibnlive.in.com on 12 August 2010 New Delhi, Aug 12 (PTI) Citing "fiduciary" relationship, the state-run Alliance Air has declined to give the name of the person who was behind the diversion of its aircraft for carrying an IPL team after pulling out a scheduled flight to Coimbatore early this year. RTI applicant S C Agrawal had asked the airline the name of the person who made a request for such an arrangement along with other details against the backdrop of news reports that "Praful Patel''s daughter pulled out scheduled AI flight for IPL". The reports had also spoke of clear violation of norms if plane was diverted for Poorna. Public Information Officer (PIO) of Alliance Air Arun K Goyal, in reply to the question about the name of the person said, "As per Section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act,2005, this information is exempt from disclosure." The PIO has cited this information "as exempted under section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act which talks about fiduciary relationship. It seems that the PIO neither understands basics of law nor dictionary-meaning of ''fiduciary''," Agrawal said. Fiduciary relationship is limited to very restricted personal relations like between doctor-patient and others and not at all for official purposes. Various verdicts from Central Information Commission are there to clarify ''fiduciary relationship'', Agrawal said. Denying information on this particular question seems to be a deliberate attempt to hide some wrong-doing on part of Alliance Air, Agrawal said today. CPIO has also not furnished details of Appellate Authority as mandatory under section 7(8) of RTI Act, he added.
  2. As reported at dnaindia.com on Sep 27, 2011 The government has spent nearly Rs42 crore on foreign visits by Union ministers during the last one year. The information provided in an RTI reply shows that while Cabinet ministers spent Rs 37.16 crore on their foreign visits, their junior colleagues, Ministers of State, spent about Rs4.76 crore on these visits bringing the total travel expenditure to Rs41.82 crore for the year 2010-11. The Cabinet Secretariat has given these consolidated figures of foreign visits expenses incurred by the Ministers to activist SC Agrawal after instructions from the Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra who directed it to make the disclosure. In the case, Agrawal had sought to know from the Cabinet Secretariat the travel details of Union ministers for the last three years, but he was told that information was "scattered" across different ministries and he would have to collect it from them separately. When the matter reached the Central Information Commission, the Cabinet Secretariat reiterated its position. The secretariat also noted that to collate the information, a large volume of records and documents would have to be scrutinised which would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority. "While we tend to agree with the submission made by the respondents (Cabinet Secretariat), we think it would be in the interest of transparency if some key information about the domestic and international travel by Union ministers could be maintained centrally in Cabinet Secretariat itself, especially since the pay and accounts office under it is responsible for all accounting details for payment of the salary and reimbursement of their travel expenditure," CIC Satyananda Mishra had said in his order.
  3. As reported in indiatoday.intoday.in: Sushma dissent ignored in CVC appointment: LATEST HEADLINES : India Today Sushma dissent ignored in CVC appointment The UPA government had clearly ignored the note of dissent given by Sushma Swaraj during the appointment of P. J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner. The reply to an RTI filed by activist Subhash Agarwal shows that Swaraj, the Opposition leader in the Lok Sabha, was against the move to appoint Thomas who had a tainted past owing to his involvement in the palmolein import scam in Kerala in 1991- 92. The reply ( a copy of which is in possession of Mail Today goes on to show that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister P. Chidambaram had recommended Thomas's name. "The Committee under Section 4( 1) of the CVC Act 2003, comprising Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram, Minister of Home Affairs and Smt Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, met at 7 Race Course Road at 7.30 pm on September 3, 2010 to make recommendations for the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner in the Central Vigilance Commission," the reply stated. The panel had three names which included Bijoy Chatterjee, IAS ( 73/ WB), Thomas, IAS ( KL/ 73) and Subbaroyan Krishnan IAS ( retd Uttranchal/ 75). The committee recommended Thomas's name but recorded that Swaraj had disagreed. "After due consideration, the majority of the Committee recommended the name of Shri P. J. Thomas IAS ( KL/ 73) for appointment as the Central Vigilance Commissioner in the Central Vigilance Commission, with Smt Sushma Swaraj recording her disagreement." According to the CVC guidelines, the CVC is appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, home minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Thomas was appointed as CVC after incumbent Pratyush Sinha completed his four- year term. Swaraj had suggested considering two other names or any other name from outside the list but the committee insisted on Thomas and made a recommendation to the President. The Supreme Court on Monday had made strong observations while questioning Thomas's appointment, who is an accused in the palmolein scam. The apex court had observed that the accused CVC will face embarrassment at every step while discharging his duty.
  4. As reported at economictimes.indiatimes.com on 8 MAY, 2011 NEW DELHI: A former member of SEBI has alleged that the board of the securities market regulator "abused" its powers to protect the then Chairman C B Bhave from being subjected to any independent inquiry with "respect to his actions as NSDL Chairman" during the IPO Scam , which related to irregularities in share allotment in various initial public offers (IPOs) between 2003 and 2006. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the then member SEBI G Mohan Gopal wrote, "As an outgoing (part time, independent) member of the SEBI Board, I write to convey my strong concern about the gross abuse of power and corrupt practices in the SEBI Board over last two years to protect SEBI Chairman C B Bhave from being subjected to independent inquiry with respect to his actions as Chairman of NSDL during IPO Scam". The letter written on December 24, 2010 has been made public by the Prime Minister's Office in an RTI reply to activist S C Agrawal. The PMO has said it has forwarded the letter to the Finance Ministry for further action. When contacted, Bhave decline to give his comments. The Finance Ministry also said, in its RTI reply dated April 8, 2011, that it has forwarded the letter to the SEBI for its comments and even sent three reminder letters but no reply has come. The finance ministry had set up a committee consisting of two SEBI members--G Mohan Gopal, now the National Judicial Academy director, and V Leeladhar-- to look into the IPO scam. The committee had passed three orders and found that NSDL had failed in its duty. It had also passed remarks against the manner in which SEBI had functioned during the scam days. Mohan Gopal, in his letter to the Prime Minister, has alleged that his "objections to illegal and unethical actions" did not elicit any response in the board and he was "isolated and threatened" for the same. "I brought issues to the attention of the Finance Secretary at an early stage, to no avail mainly because the representatives of the Ministry of Finance on SEBI Board (no longer with the Ministry of Finance) was an active part of developing and implementing the impugned actions," he wrote. NSDL was given clean chit last year by SEBI when C B Bhave was its chairman. Bhave had recused himself from the SEBI board meeting in February 2010, when NSDL matter was discussed, as he had previously headed the depository. The Supreme Court had asked SEBI to reply whether it would revisit its decision to give a clean chit to NSDL ( National Securities Depository )) in the 2006 IPO scam. The apex court had expressed concern over SEBI's outright rejection of the report, and had asked the market regulator to give its stand. It had remarked that as the committee comprised senior SEBI officials, the report should have been considered by the regulator. The apex court was also not convinced by the submissions of SEBI that the committee exceeded its limit. Curiously, the SEBI did a U-turn in the Supreme Court last week when it filed an affidavit agreeing to restore orders indicting Bhave in the IPO Scam. In an affidavit filed on May 5, the SEBI said it would reconsider the very orders it had declared as non est in November 2009 when Bhave was Chairman.
  5. As reported at hindustantimes.com on September 15, 2010 Already reeling under allegations of financial irregularities, the Organising Committee (OC) has refused to divulge any information regarding overlay contracts worth over Rs 630 crore for the CommonWealth Games. Replying to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal, the OC has said that disclosure of these documents would compromise commercial interests as the contracts are underway. “The contracts are underway and copies cannot be provided at this stage.” Aggarwal had, in his RTI application, sought information on various overlay contracts entered into by the OC, the procedures followed, total budget available at the discretion of OC for Commonwealth Games etc. The OC has cited Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act, which exempts from disclosure of information that includes “commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm competitive position of a third party”. The contracts with firms supplying overlays generated huge controversy about alleged irregularities in the deals. Allegations were levelled that overlays have been procured at a much higher prices than market rates. The only information that the Organising Committee divulged was that it had entered into an agreement with four companies — ESAJV, D-Art, Indo consortium, GL Events, Meroform consortium, Nuseeli (Switzerland) Ltd, Pico Deepali Overlays Consortium — which were given contracts worth Rs 630.23 crore. “The information given by the OC was inadequate and incomplete,” said Aggarwal.
  6. As reported at ptinews.com on 9 June, 2010 New Delhi, Jun 9 (PTI) The Central Information Commission has asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to refrain from rejecting RTI applications on "flimsy" grounds. The civic body has refused to accept an RTI application addressed to its Central Public Information Officer saying there was no such post in its office. "A citizen has no means or the necessity of understanding as to which Public Information Officer within MCD or any other department is to be addressed. "It is for the department to ensure that any communication received in the capacity of an RTI application shall be accepted and further forwarded to the concerned Public Information Officer," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi ordered the civic body while hearing the plea of activist S C Agrawal.
  7. As reported by Abhinav Garg at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 31 May 2010 NEW DELHI: An RTI application enquiring about the norms governing private appearances of senior law officers of the government has elicited an ambiguous response from the law ministry. The half-baked reply from the department of legal affairs, which comes under the ministry, came in response to an RTI filed by well-known activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal. Aggarwal, in his plea, based on a TOI news report, sought to know if additional solicitor general (ASG) A S Chandhiok had sought permission from the government to represent a man facing prosecution in a criminal case. He also sought to know details of distribution of cases between counsels on the government panel, mode of deciding payment of fees, and file notings on the movement of his RTI plea. The ministry sat on Aggarwal’s plea, overshooting the prescribed time limit to reply. Then said in its delayed response that it had not received ‘‘any communication” with respect to the case fought by the ASG and enquired about in the RTI. As for the remaining questions, the ministry’s public information officer asked Aggarwal to refer to the law ministry’s website to look for answers — even for file notings made on Aggarwal’s RTI — and told Aggarwal a portion of his queries were being diverted to the department’s litigation section which would furnish Aggarwal with the information. TOI had earlier highlighted a case in which ASG Chandhiok had defended a man accused of cheating a Delhi court. The accused allegedly got another woman to impersonate his wife and forged court documents to obtain a divorce by mutual consent.
  8. As reported in zeenews.com on 06 November 2009: CIC reserves decision on ex-CEC`s letter to Prez on Chawla CIC reserves decision on ex-CEC's letter to Prez on Chawla New Delhi: The CIC on Friday reserved its decision regarding the disclosure, under the RTI Act, of a letter written by former chief election commissioner R Gopalaswami to the President about the incumbent Naveen Chawla. President's Secretariat had refused to give copy of the letter which had hogged limelight as it was alleged that Gopalaswami had recommended to the President for Chawla's removal from office for alleged "partisan" functioning. RTI activist S C Agrawal had sought the copy of Gopalaswami's letter which was rejected by the President's Secretariat saying its disclosure would be an invasion of privacy and had invoked the related Clause Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI to deny the same. Agrawal argued that contents of the letter were already in the media and hence there was no reason to claim 'invasion of privacy'. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah reserved his decision saying there was a detailed order of Delhi High Court in matter of invasion of privacy and the present case needs to be studied in its light. The Section allows withholding information if it is available to a person in one's fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
  9. Atul Patankar

    CWG budget for 5 stadiums up almost 250%

    As reported at economictimes.indiatimes.com on 7 Apr 2010 NEW DELHI: The cost of construction and renovation of five stadiums to be used during the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) increased by almost 250 percent of the original, a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application revealed. The application filed under the RTI Act by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had sought details of the initial and revised budget for the CWG-related projects taken up by the central government. According to the reply, the initial planned amount was Rs.1,000 crore but later it was revised to Rs.2,460 crore. The 2010 Delhi CWG are scheduled to take place Oct 3-14 later this year. The work of construction and renovation of the stadiums - Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Indira Gandhi Stadium, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex, Major Dhyanchand National Stadium and Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range - is being done by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). "The budget was revised on account of revised cost indices and escalation, change in scope of work as per the requirement of venue, various additions and deletions to make venue suitable for various standards and addition of service tax, quality assurance and contingencies," CPWD said. The original cost for construction and renovation of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which is to host the opening and closing ceremonies, was Rs.455 crore. It was revised to Rs.961 crore. Similarly, for the Karni Singh Shooting Range the budget was increased to Rs.149 crore from the original Rs.16 crore. Source: CWG budget for 5 stadiums up almost 250%-Policy-Economy-News-The Economic Times
  10. As reported at ptinews.com on 25 February, 2010 New Delhi, Feb 25 (PTI) The Women and Child Development Ministry had not sought any approval from the PMO before publishing photographs of former Pakistan Air Force Chief with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an advertisement issued by it, skipping a mandatory procedure. Replying to an RTI application from S C Agrawal, the Ministry admitted that it was mandatory for a Union Ministry to seek the approval of Prime Minister's Office for publishing photo of Prime Minister in a government advertisement but went on to say that in this case "no approval from PMO was sought". When a copy of communication from PMO in this case was sought, the Ministry said "nil". Source: fullstory
  11. As reported at economictimes.indiatimes.com on 02 February, 2010 NEW DELHI: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) does not approve of penalties on foreclosure of loans and admits there is no uniformity among banks on such matters, but appears to have done little to address the problem. This is reflected in two separate sets of replies to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on the issue of high rates of penalties charged on the prepayment of loans, in a practice followed by private, foreign and state-run banks alike. "RBI does not approve the policy of charging penalty/fore closure charges," the central bank said in a reply to a query raised by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, a resident of Chandni Chowk in the capital's old quarters. The central bank goes on to add that guidelines have also been issued to commercial banks to ensure usurious interest, including processing and other charges, is not levied on loans and advances. But in another set of reply, the central bank admits such penalties are, indeed, levied - even by state-run banks. "Banks, including public sector banks, generally levy prepayment charges on loans as prepayment of loans affect their asset-liability management," says the RBI's reply. "There is no uniformity in the practice followed by various banks as the banks have been given freedom to fix service charges for various types of services rendered by them." The replies have left the applicant Agarwal rather clueless. "While RBI has revealed that it does not approve penalty/fore-closure charges on pre-payment of loans, yet on the other hand it has admitted such a faulty practice prevailing in the banks," he said. "If RBI does not approve the policy, it should immediately direct banks not to levy any such fore-closure charges," he added. Source: RBI opposes penalty on loan prepayment, but takes no action- Banking-Banking/Finance-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times
  12. Atul Patankar

    Frequent fliers in UPA-I, finds RTI

    As reported at economictimes.indiatimes.com on 10 Nov 2009 NEW DELHI: When Ms Sonia Gandhi said “tighten your belts” some weeks ago, referring to the urgent need for austerity, her voice may not have been music for UPA ministers as records reveal that ministers in the first UPA regime preferred the singsong voice of airlines’ staff world-wide who chortled “fasten your seat belts.” Cabinet ministers in the first term of the UPA government spent more than Rs 300 crore on their foreign and domestic travels in the last three years. The data provided by the Cabinet Secretariat shows more than Rs 137 crore were spent by Cabinet ministers on foreign travels between fiscal 2006-07 and 2008-09, with highest in the year 2007-08, when more than Rs 115 crore were spent by them on such travel. Surprisingly, the expenses incurred on the domestic travels of Cabinet ministers during the period were more than the amount spent on their visits abroad. Details were given in an RTI reply to activist S C Agrawal by the Cabinet Secretariat. The records show that during the three years, the ministers spent more than Rs 163 crore on their travels within the country. The expenditure incurred by them during 2008-09 was Rs 94.4 crore, which was 38% more than the cumulative expenditure incurred on domestic travels in the previous two years. The reply from the Cabinet Secretariat also states that ministers of state in the government had spent about Rs 21 crore on their travel abroad during the period while Rs 27 crore were spent on their domestic visits. About Rs 127 crore were spent by the central ministers in 2008-09, Rs 138.7 crore in 2007-08 and about Rs 82.3 crore during 2006-07 on their visits abroad as well as within the country. The reply from the Cabinet Secretariat did not give any break-up of expenses in different heads as they are held by the drawing and disbursing officers (DDO) of different ministries. “This office does not have any record of any individual minister as all the expenditure is booked under one respective head of account of all the ministers,” J L Khurana, senior accounts officer at ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, said. Source: Frequent fliers in UPA-I, finds RTI- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times
  13. As reported at www.samaylive.com on 04 March 2009 New Delhi, March 2 : Names of Olympic medal winners Sushil Kumar (wrestler) and Vijender Singh (boxing) were struck off by the Padma Awards Committee despite having been recommended by Sports and Home Ministries. In response to an RTI, Union Home Ministry said it had received recommendation in favour of both the Olympians from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on November 20, 2008, well before the cut-off date for accepting the nominations. "Yes, the nominations were placed before the Padma Awards Committee. These names were not recommended by Padma Awards Committee for 2009," Ministry's CPIO S K Bhatnagar said in reply to an application filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal. Kumar and Singh had won bronze medals in the Olympic Games held in Beijing. The Ministry in its reply said 1093 recommendations were placed before the awards committee. Out of all the recommendations 133 names were selected for different categories -- 10 Padma Vibhushan, 30 Padma Bhushan and 93 Padma Shri. Awards committee is headed by Cabinet Secretary and comprises Home Secretary and Secretary to the President and Principle Secretary to the Prime Minister. Four non-official members this year were Kapila Vatsyayana, Tarun Das, Jyotindra Jain and R Chidambaram. Source: Olympic bronze medalists were recommended for Padma Awards:MHA :: SamayLive
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