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Letters to the Editor: 20 September, 2019

Supreme Court verdict on substantial funding for declaring a body under RTI Act welcome

Well-analysed Supreme Court verdict dated September 17, 2019 (Civil Appeal 9828 of 2013) declaring DAV College Trust and Management Society public-authority under RTI Act because of substantial government-funding is welcome, but may not serve the purpose till central government takes corrective measures to practically implement the verdict. Otherwise as usual, substantially government-funded bodies declared public-authority by CIC will challenge CIC-verdicts in High Courts for easy stay-orders and unending adjournments thus unnecessarily involving precious time of CIC and courts.

Remedy is that central government by notification may declare all public-private-partnerships, sports-bodies, cooperative-societies and other such bodies, public-authorities under RTI Act. Land and Building Departments of central and state governments should study all cases of allotment of land or government-accommodations at subsidised rates or lease, and declare all these as public-authorities under RTI Act.

Central government has already desired that Mother Dairy may be public-authority under RTI Act. Retired Central Chief Information Commission RK Mathur in a CIC-verdict noted that Institute of Banking Personnel Selection IBPS is not a public-authority under RTI Act even though four million candidates appear every year for examinations conducted by it. For future, an undertaking should be taken from all bodies being given land or government-accommodations at subsidised rates or substantial government-funding that these will be under purview of RTI Act.

Co-operative giant IFFCO through which annual fertiliser-subsidy of rupees thousands of crores is routed gifted prime-properties worth rupees hundreds of crores in New Delhi to its office-bearers with even Comptroller and Auditor General report pointing out massive irregularities in functioning of IFFCO.

BCCI challenged CIC-verdict ordering it as public-authority under RTI Act at Madras High Court despite Union Ministry of Sports supporting CIC-verdict in this respect. It is noteworthy that even Law Commission on being approached by central government subsequent to Supreme Court directions, opined in favour of BCCI to be under purview of RTI Act.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)Help Parallel Media, Support Journalism, Free Press, Afternoon Voice

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