Wednesday, April 21, 2010

“RGIA-Hyderabad” is not bound by RTI says GMR !!!

One more PPP and one more drama. I filed an RTI application with AAI (Airports Authority of India) asking whether RGIA (Rajiv Gandhi International Airport) in Hyderabad is a public authority under RTI. And if yes, provide me the details of the PIO etc.

AAI transferred the application to GMR. GMR in a letter said they have filed a writ petition before the High Court of AP challenzing the applicability of RTI to GHIAL (GMR Hyderabad Intl Airport Limited). GHIAL in the writ petition contented that its not a public authority under RTI and hence RTI does not apply to them.

Airport GMR1 

Sec 2(h) of the RTI act says,

(h) "public authority" means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted—
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
(c) by any other law made by State Legislature;
(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government,
and includes any—
(i) body owned, controlled or
substantially financed;
(ii) non-Government organisation substantially financed,
directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;

In GHIAL,

In total, Govt holds a 26% equity. The total cost of this PPP (Public Private Partnership) is estimated to be INR 24.7 Billion (US$560 million) which is roughly 2500 crore rupees. So the Govt’s share is nearly 625 crore rupees.

In a similar case of DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited)involving GMR , the central information Commission (CIC) has said,

“DIAL responded saying that they were not a ‘public authority’ as they held a 74% stake in the Joint Venture Company by the name of GMR. On making further enquiries, the Commission was told that the Government had a 26% stake in DIAL. The Commission is of the opinion that a holding of 26 per cent is quite substantial for any company and, therefore, Section 2(1) which states that any body owned, controlled or substantially financed is a public authority is applicable to DIAL and hence they are bound by the directions of the RTI. The Commission, therefore, directs DIAL to provide the information to the Appellant.”

Meanwhile, the Madras high court in a landmark verdict has said  “PPPs are public authorities as they deliver public utilities”.

In holding NTADCL, which supplies water in the industrial town of Tirupur, as a public authority, the court not only favoured a “liberal interpretation” of Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, but stated that the company was essentially carrying out an activity that constitutionally belongs to the state.

“The activity that is undertaken by the petitioner company is essentially a power vested on the municipal authority under article 243(W) read with items 5 and 6 of the XII schedule to the Constitution,” the order said.

Incorporated in 1995, NTADCL was jointly promoted by Tamil Nadu government and private company IL&FS as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement the Tirupur area development programme.

While IL&FS holds 27.17 per cent shareholding in NTADCL, the state government holds 17.04 per cent, according to the facts presented in the court. AIDQUA Holdings, a Mauritius-based company, holds 27.89 per cent and public-sector insurance companies hold 10.85 per cent.

NTADCL, which was the petitioner in the case, argued that since it was not “substantially financed” by the government, it could not be deemed a public authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

The court took the view that since the law did not specify the proportion of funding required for an entity to become “substantially financed”, it “will have to apply proper test in each case and apply the provisions of the RTI Act to those authorities.”

The order also relied on the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s (duties, powers and conditions of service) Act, 1971, which allows CAG to audit the accounts of any body or authority that has received no less than Rs one crore in public funding, to contend that NTADCL was “substantially financed” by the government.

“The office of the CAG can audit the accounts of the petitioner company after getting prior approval from the state government…. It cannot be contended that the petitioner company will not come within the term ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h)(d).”
The court observed that the PPPs, which generally work on build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) principle and often perform some of the activities of the local governments, “must explain to the people about their activities”.

“Every citizen has a right to know the working of such bodies, lest they may be fleeced by such companies,” the order passed by justice K. Chandru said.

It’s notable that PPPs, which have been coming up in significant numbers across the country in areas of roads, water supply, electricity supply, etc., are loath to share information with the public about their formation, operations, and finances.
Dwivedi had requested some information from NTADCL under the RTI Act, which the latter had refused stating that they were not a ‘public authority’.

The verdict is very important in the light of more and more PPP projects mushrooming across the country. We have to wait and see what GMR has to say now and what the AP High court decides.

Use RTI !!!

19 comments:

Dinesh said...

Now what do you want to know about the airport? This information lobbying effort that you have kept up over the years (as recorded in your blog) - why?

The kind of work you do for getting all that info, you cant just be someone who is curious. Dont understand man..what do you get out of it personally, and no textbook good Samaritan answer please. It all seems a little self-indulgent to an outsider.

I may be the kind of cynic that you encounter and dismiss frequently. But if love your own questions all the time while hating all their answers, then aren't you a little cynical as well?

Other than what confuses me here..great effort.

Rakesh said...

@Dinesh: Let me answer point by point.

1. I am using my right as a citizen of this country - as simple as that.

2. I am not someone who is just curious. I am someone who wants to see that laws are implemented as they should be and i am someone who strongly believes that better implementation of the laws will automatically change a lot of things in the country.

3. At the end of the day i will do what i love and what i like and i cannot be criticized for that unless my actions cause pain to others.

4.Regarding the airport thing, its public money being spent and i have every right to know whats being done with my money. If the airport is doing well, then why should concessions be given. A lot of questions like these.

What do i get out of it? Well as i said i do things that i like.

Am asking the same very questions that a lot of people might want to ask,but do not. I do love my questions and i do hate their answers, but only when they are not in tune with the law of the land. If their answers are not as per the law of the land, i cannot be faulted for that and be called a cynic.

Midhun Kumar Allu said...

@Dinesh :

From your question, are you implying that there should be no one asking questions unless it gives a direct benefit to them ? There are people who do things because they think it is the right thing to do irrespective of any benefit from it personally.

Also I absolutely agree that Rakesh is cynical of the answers given by the people who asked questions and he is rightfully so! They keep delaying and try to avoid giving information. Isnt that good enough reason to be cynical ?

Vijay Kolaventy said...

It is precisely because of people like Dinesh that it has now become wrong for people to question if they don't have any personal interest or benefit in it. This is what differentiates us Indians primarily from the West where it is the other way around. People like Rakesh are not welcome in India since we like to be righteous outside and shady inside.
I personally feel that what Rakesh is doing is a great job. It is nothing less than fighting for a good cause if not in a different way.
As to Dinesh's question on how it benefits Rakesh, I will answer that by saying that may be if GMR comes under the scanner of RTI then may be it will have to explain on the charges it keeps levying on the users like UDF, Commuters etc.
Anyway I completely believe public property means that we own a part of it and we have right to question if someone misuses it as we question if someone misuses our own property. End of story.

Vijay Kolaventy said...

Checkout my blog at http://vijay.hyperionenergy.in

It also has something to do with GMR and may be of interest to you.

Dinesh said...

@ Rakesh,

Thanks for replying so soon. Clearly you are convinced that what you do helps.

Consider this Conspiracy Theory though:
By passing something like the RTI act, I dont think the government meant to tie up its own hands. I see it as a means of not eliminating graft, but in India it can be used as a means of eliminating inefficiencies in corruption.

The most potent use of RTI will always be in the hands of people who use it to identify the hurdles and weaklings in the system. Once the problem/bottleneck identification is done, RTI acts as an exchange through which the corrupter and corrupt can recognize each other clearly. Thus eliminating the middle men - hence it is their version of 'vertical integration' of corruption.

But people like yourself are obviously needed to spin the RTI so that it is seen as a means of enlightenment. The Sunshine Law crusader!

End of conspiracy.

Again you are the expert on RTI, so you should know if it can't be used by parties who too want to know.. but not for such benevolent reasons. Like say, GMR perhaps could have used the same RTI to identify who in the government could grant them concessions and then perhaps work out an understanding.

@Midhun
Yes, I am implying that "there should be no one asking questions unless it gives a direct benefit to them".

Every act of administration will have someone down the line who either benefits or loses because of it. So it is their sole and whole responsibility to find out what went wrong and not a 3rd party whose intentions can always be questioned.

Ramya said...

hey dinesh!
You are saying"there should be no one asking questions unless it gives a direct benefit to them".
Let me ask you-in what way are you getting benefitted by posing questions to Rakesh?
and let me explain you-
every one in our country is not as educated as u or i or rakesh or forthat matter anyone who commented on this blog is!!
for example the aeroexpress bus had recently hiked their price. is it of not concern to a person travelling in that bus?
once we get to know the info using RTI publishing it in simpler words is of utmost importance so that you can know your law and avail it in the needed time.

And i completely agree with people like Rakesh and encourage his work.if possible let us try to spread this pieces of info to the general public and make them aware of our laws in place.

PS: My apologies for being too rude in the first line.

Dinesh said...

Have I stepped on some raw nerves here? All I say is that RTI is not some value-neutral device..everyone who uses it has an agenda in mind. I hope people recognize that.

@Rakesh: sorry for clogging your blog man.. as people must already have let you know - you're doing a great job (I am someone who is just not convinced of the direction)

@Vijay: GMR's contention - is the airport currently classified as "public property" as you say it is. They think its their property till they hand it over to the govt and therefore you have no business nosing around.

@Ramya: Questioning the government and asking Rakesh are not exactly the same thing. My interest here (since you've asked) is that Rakesh's work is really interesting but in contradiction to what I believe, so I am trying to get across another POV. Makes sense? In asking Rakesh, I have only wasted my time (his & yours too perhaps) unlike when you request information from the government which consumes efforts that would otherwise ought to be directed to public good.
About Aeroexpress buses - dont use them if you cant afford to. Use the RTC buses which run from all over the city to the airport. GMR even shuttles you to and from the departure/arrival area to the transportation area where the RTC buses are located..all free of charge.
Also, you weren't rude, just passionate (but if you thought you were, why didn't you delete the rude part?).

Please mail me any further abuse. Cant keep checking here.

Rakesh said...

@Dinesh: Just a few clarifications.

Firstly,you are assuming that the Govt is doing a favour or doing something which is not their duty. It is their duty as per law and there is no waste of time or anything of that sort. There are enough safuguards in the act to prevent people who might misuse it (as u say and quoted the example of GMR). And i think you need to know more about RTI before commenting on it or before judging what all it can do and what it cannot.

And regarding third parties, you might think you are a third party. But i dont endorse that POV. Every penny that govt spends is public money which means its mine and i have every damn right to know how its being used.

And to tell you more about RTI, Sec 6(2) of the RTI act clearly says that a citizen need not specify reasons nor is he needed to disclose his identity to seek information. So tha act or the govt does not seem to think that citizens have no business asking for information.


Whatever GMR says, 625 crores of public money and 5000 acres of land is given to them. So if not today, they will fall in line and have to accept the law of the land sometime later. Its not their private property. The security, ATR etc is govt's responsibility. GMR is only one of the stake holders. Nothing more than that. Yes, people have every right to know if GMR actually has power to increase rates as they wish and we also have every right to know how much money is being earned by the consortium every year. Its entirely possible that tomorrow GMR might charge people for breathing fresh air in the airport lounge and i need to know if they have any right to do it. And GMR is not doing any favour by running free shuttles.

You seem to think the effort of seeking information is not worthwhile. You can google and find wonderful success stories. You will only appreciate if you interact with people who got their dues(pensions,rations,scholarships,roads,passports etc) using RTI(which should have been done by those very govt officers without our intervention)

I will end it here.

Blog said...

Alright then, GMR and the Goverrnment are both wonderful parties who took away lands of the people of Shamshabad against their consent for the Airport which is very far away from the city compared to that of Begumpet which was very much accessible at lower costs. And most of the poeple will have to travel by GMR buses to reach to the Airport which drops you right at the doors of the Airport compared to that of APSRTC that drops you quite far from the Airport and whom the government is strongly suppressing to completely get it privatized (may be GMR in the picture again?)

Of course there is our prestigious PV Narsimha Rao express way worth 600 crore investment (again govt and GMR)

What is next with GMR and PPPs?

Wow! Its GMR all over and no need to worry about control over it by government which is constitutional and accountability by way of using RTI and such other stuff.

Vijay said...

@Dinesh:
Get this straight. Nothing is really owned by anyone. The simple proof is that you have pay your house tax even though it belongs to you. To make it simple, you are actually given a right to use it as long as you pay for it. Govt. can give or take anything it wants if it really wants and Govt. belongs to people (at least in a democratic country) which means that you practically have a right on everything depending on the situation. I know what I say here sounds extreme but it is true (Ever notice how Govt. grabs lands from poor farmers without any compensation?).

About GMR. You are Wrong! Airport is still a public property. It is only given to GMR to build, own, operate and transfer. When you say own in a BOOT model, it doesnt mean that you can sell it or do whatever you want. It is just that you are given certain ownership rights which will help you in the project implementation.

@Rakesh:
I am not sure about RTI approach on GMR but it would have been much simpler if you asked GoAP to respond on the RGIA project under RTI. GMR is bound to answer GoAP.

echasapt said...

I can see some valid points in what Dinesh said although I do not agree with some points too- a more correct position will be that I am not in a position to judge or prejudge motives of those who ask questions. I am someone who has looked from the outside at the RTI with awe. Awe on several fronts- a) that we needed a legislation or an act to get the information about what is being done with our money/taxes etc while running around scared wondering if i paid all my taxes b) that the act implies that there was much to hide or was being hidden but could not be brought out without an act and c) most importantly, there are people who do not mind asking questions...which i found fascinating since we are sort of trained not ask questions of persons in authority.

Can the act be misused-possibly by vested interests or people with a hidden agenda. I don't dismiss that contention. Do I know it happens? I haven't even looked for it.

What i do see is that the RTI has benefited and there are success stories. However, there is one aspect that intrigues me. Most of the success stories i read are where individual benefits have accrued...ration cards, pension, PF, passports fall in that category. I am not so sure (Willing to listen) if the full potential of the RTI act has been unleashed for a societal perspective. Is it more of many drops of water may make an ocean approach now? For example, a question on ration cards etc may end with resolution of the individual problem- does the information collected through the RTI lead to a larger process change? Is there a mechanism to follow up with the information giving and collecting process in RTI to lead to a change? For that matter, is it possible to get information on all the RTI's sent to each department and the results thereof and any possible process changes that have occurred.

This is an area that interests me. For a long time, i never asked a question using RTI because I did not know what I would do with the information. Now, at least at a conceptual level, I see the potential for RTIs to lead to meaningful social audits. And i am working on a list of questions pertaining to my area of expertise that can help me analyze answers too.

Pertaining to the comment about hating all their answers...why ask a question if we would want to just blindly accept the answer. Answers to a question have to be analyzed and credit due where they are correct. The genesis of the RTI is related to the fact that answers were not available or not believable.

The real success of the RTI may possibly be when it leads to greater societal participation in government and sort of directs change in a positive way. I guess that is idealistic but hey no harm dreaming, right?

Praveen

chakde said...

guys slow down ! What is the main purpose of RTI? is in't it meant as the weapon for common man? but how many common men are really using RTI? you educational morons are using this act for self satisfaction. if you really want to take RTI a step forward, educate the common man with the benefits of RTI. let them file the RTI for their own cause and effects? then nothing left for Dinesh to ask and Rakesh to answer....

COMMITED To TARGET said...

@ Chakde: Don’t mind, I have a question to you.

(1). May i know the works that you have done to the society (as a citizen of this country) or to single person who is needy, in the same frequency that u r asking?

I may be deviating from the discussion but it (all my content here) works like a conclusion to all above..

Before proceeding to the discussion, I am the one who have an idea of RTI and little bit of what we and INDIA is now today.


My view reg RTI act 2005: Wonderful weapon that can bring back the balance of Service and accountability in our democracy which we lost since 2 decades. My sound advice to all the viewers to go through the RTI Act 2005 once please which is of 23pages simple document and analyze it.
Nobody will educate, guide us to do something for our mother nation and to society but it's purely once interest to care for his mother land, but who will do that....?

Ya it's right here with all these discussions from highly educated people, now i am realizing why INDIA is not in good position i.e. in terms of economy, food for all, % of people BPL , literacy rate in this globalized world.... with such big democratic country even with such wide and clear constitution of laws writtened 6 decades ago.

I am sure of Legendary MK Gandhi, Nehru, Chandra sekhar ajad, Subhas chandra bose,…..etc (so many Legendary that we need remember for ever who brought freedom to this country) will be never thought of self benefit but it’s only their desire to the country to see it as Sovereign state. All the leaders of that time are citizens only (when they started struggle) and not else……….


In the mean time, since Independence Day, political leaders and Bureaucrats’ slowly learned the ways where they can be self benefited.... Who will question them ………?

It’s correct here “As long as we pay tax to the govt.,and also it’s our right to question that what has been done with that money ……”
In replica to those days of independence , “Only one who will care for the nation is the Citizen and has to forever…. ”
In this civil society called globalized village it’s hard to find such one who cares for the nation. But I sincerely owe it to the people like Rakesh anna for their tremendous work……….


“Freedom fighters brought Independence to this country”…………here, we can ask what for Independence and ans is “To get in to the Sovereign , Socialist democratic world ” and which is vision of
Freedom fighters. Here the Objective is very clear reg What for Independence and also the person’s ( as Indian citizens ). It will be vague , if we question those freedom fighters that in what way Independence benefited them directly and it’s awful .

In similar, What Rakesh anna doing , questioning with RTI as weapon is wonderful. Behind, in all RTI filings and objective of all those will be simple “What has been done with my money that I (all the citizens) paid you ”

With anticipation of few more personalities to arose as simple as responsible citizens.

Thanking you
Regards
Mr. Matam Manjunath

COMMITED To TARGET said...

Rakesh anna ,

From those two documents of
(1). Reply to your RTI application came from RGIA which is under PPP ownership of GMR

(2) RTI Act of 2005 - section 2(h)- defining "Public authority"

Here the GMR provided wrong information for the petitioner.

Even, GMR says (in letter), it filed a petition not to cover the RGIA under RTI.

It make take years for justification to come to their petition filed in HC but ultimately verdict will be in favor of RTI. Otherwise PPP (Public Private Partnership) becomes less trustworthy by the lack of accountability on PPP ownership and hence no meaning for accountability and transparency in these PPP owned Public authorities.

Then Rakesh anna,

Do you have any plans to go to the Appellate or to Central commission for the final verdict to your RTI application...?

or else any .....

Regards

Matam Manjunath

narenderreddy kampelli said...

"I think Dinesh is obsolutely right as i think the rakesh is getting self satisfaction as the benefit for serving the society , being a part of cancer(corruption) elimination process"
i understand dinesh question like this
"what is the benefit of being a good man ?"

abhishek said...

Rakesh I feel there are some people who are supporting GMR here on your blog namely Dinsesh, Narender Reddy Kampelli who are trying to stop you by sweet talk either to cover their guilt of being part of some wrong action or to show they are cool or good at debate, It is pretty much such kind of debate that I see in educated voter who say why do we need to vote and when corrupt leaders come in power they crib about it, nowadays after 60 years of Indian governments massive mismanagement and rampant corruption, Some vested interests and their followers are hell bent on not losing their strong hold either by hook or crook. If there is a flaw it is with them not with you. The main benefit of being good is you create a progressive society, which evolves for common good and does not harm others at the cost of your own benefit. As far as RTI being misused there is judiciary to check that, there are also elections in which we elect leaders and the day we find RTI being misused we can say it to our respective leaders to fine tune them to check their misuse, laws usually evolve subject to the circumstances and right now the circumstances are clearly saying that corruption, inefficiency is rampant in Indian Government and as far usage of RTI the countries that already have them significantly benefited from them which needs to be checked, else we all go down. Keep up your good work Rakesh and remember there are always a few bad apples and bad exceptions. We need to just learn to live with them

Anonymous said...

Remember! Rakesh As Abraham Lincoln once said, Democracy is by the people of the people and for the people. To get a good government in democracy you need to participate in it effectively and you are doing the right thing by exercising your lawful rights vested in you by bringing information for public consumption. All the Best!

Anonymous said...

Remember! Rakesh As Abraham Lincoln once said, Democracy is by the people of the people and for the people. To get a good government in democracy you need to participate in it effectively and you are doing the right thing by exercising your lawful rights vested in you by bringing information for public consumption. All the Best!Abhishek.Mawle