RTI jurisdiction, NOW over Private Corporate bodies : CIC
This was reported in "Times of India, dated 19 December'2009, Mumbai edition, page 13".
(read article, as reproduced below)
THE CIC judgement NOW allows "PRIVATE CORPORATE INFORMATION" to be obtained via the RTI route, IF successfully argued that the INFORMATION PERTAINS TO LARGER INTEREST ot BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC.
EFFECTIVELY, In other words, all Private "CORPORATES" registered under the Companies Act and other Statutory Acts (like S&E, S.T., Service Tax, are covered under the RTI Act.
CORPORATES as :
a) Corporate Hospitals (Apollo, Wockhardht, Nanavati Hospital, etc ....)
b) Corporate Business (Reliance Industries, Cipla, Infosys, etc...)
c) Coporate Law Firms, Malls, Corporate Schools and Colleges
d) Public Trusts and Private Trusts, Private Finance Companies
e) Brokerage houses, Private Banks, Realty Firms (like DHL,, Lok housing, Rahejas, etc...)
f) "ANY & ALL" Other corporates registered under Any Statutory Laws.
CHIEF CRITERIA FOR obtaining Information under RTI from pvt. Corporates should equal to :
"INFORMATION PERTAINS TO LARGER INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC BENEFIT"
NOW it also means that all Corporates will have to appoint an in-house "Public Information Officer (P.I.O.)" and also an in-house "Appellate Authority", against whom a final appeal may be filed with the S.I.C. or the C.I.C., as the case jurisdiction may be.
NOW it also means that Corporates will have to display most in-house information, WHICH COULD BE IN PUBLIC INTEREST, on their websites and keep it ready in their office records for Public Inspection etc...
Keep Smiling .... Hemant Agarwal
Info with corporates not private: CIC
("Times of India, dated 19 December'2009, Mumbai edition, page 13)
Allows Disclosure Of I-T Records Of Escorts Hospital
New Delhi: In a decision that is likely to send alarm bells ringing for corporates, the Central Information Commission (CIC) recently ruled that information held by corporates or institutes could not be termed “private” and should be made public.
In this particular case, the commission has allowed disclosure of income tax assessment records of Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre and its promoters Dr Naresh Trehan and Rajan Nanda. This is a major departure from the CIC’s previous orders where income-tax related information has been ruled as personal information of third party and so far not been disclosed. Interpreting corporates as a “legal person” rather than a natural person, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said personal was attributed to an individual rather than an institute or corporate.
A part of the order also recognised that whistle-blowers were working in public interest and should be given access to information. Applicant Rakesh Gupta had asked for information regarding the income tax records of Escorts group which he alleged had evaded tax. Ruling that the applicant was using the Right to Information (RTI) to expose tax evasion, Gandhi said, “If an informer is using RTI to get information... by showing that tax has been evaded, it cannot be denied that a larger public interest is being served of getting the public’s due taxes and curbing corruption.”
According to the order, the I-T department had assessed tax evasion of an estimated Rs 500 crore by Escorts Limited and Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Chandigarh and Delhi. While Rajan Nanda was assessed with tax evasion of Rs 8 crore, Dr Trehan was assessed with evasion to the tune of Rs 10 crore. While some cases have been remanded to be reassessed, there are others that are pending before the Delhi high court or have been settled by the Income Tax Appellant Tribunal (ITAT).
Recognising that Gupta played the role of a whistleblower and added “hundreds of crores” as additional income for the IT department, Gandhi overruled objections laid down by appellate authority to rule that giving the informant access to the records was serving “a larger public interest”. Gandhi added, “The applicant fears a lot of alleged tax evasion will go unpunished leading to a loss of revenue and perhaps his reward money. If citizens monitor this through RTI, it could be a major gain for public revenue and perhaps a good check on corrupt officials.”
By allowing the disclosure of I-T assessment records of Escorts Hospital and its promoter Dr Naresh Trehan, the CIC has shown a major departure from its previous orders where I-T related information has been ruled as personal information of third party and so far not been disclosed. A part of the order also recognised that whistle-blowers were working in public interest and should be given access to information.