File Nos. CIC/SS/A/2013/002956/KY and CIC/SS/A/2013/002846/KY. Case: A. Ramanathan and Ors. Vs The Sr. Manager (Adm.), Indian Potash Limited and Ors.. Central Information Commission
|Case Number:||File Nos. CIC/SS/A/2013/002956/KY and CIC/SS/A/2013/002846/KY|
|Party Name:||A. Ramanathan and Ors. Vs The Sr. Manager (Adm.), Indian Potash Limited and Ors.|
|Counsel:||For Respondents: Sitna Abraham and S.K. Khanna, Chief Managers|
|Judges:||Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad and M.A. Khan Yusufi, Information Commissioners|
|Issue:||Right To Information Act, 2005 - Sections 2 (h), 2 (h)(d), 2(h), 2(h)(d)(i), 3, 4(1)(b)|
|Judgement Date:||July 09, 2015|
|Court:||Central Information Commission|
1. The RTI Act, vide Section 3 thereof vests in all citizens the right to information. However, the said right of citizens to information, under the Act, is enforceable against the public authorities only and for exercise of which right, the Act creates obligations on the public authorities to maintain, display and dispense information and lays down the mechanism for exercise of such right. Before deciding the core issue at hand, the definition of public authority under the RTI Act needs to be revisited and analysed as stipulated under Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, 2005 which reads as under:
"2(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 Organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;"
From a bare reading of the Section above, it is evident that the Respondent in this case does not fall within the Sub clauses (a), (b) and (c) of the Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act to the extent that it is neither a body or institution of self-Government, established or constituted under the Constitution, by law made by the Parliament or by the State Legislature etc.
The Respondent Company was created by the then Ministry of Commerce and Industry during the year 1955 and set up a Joint Stock Company by the name of Indian Potash Supply Agency (IPSA) till its conversion in 1970 to its current form viz. Indian Potash Limited and registration under the Companies Act. IPSA, at the commencement consisted of all leading importers of fertilisers as its shareholders and became the sole entrusted agency for import handling, promotion and marketing of Potash in the entire country. The company then evolved and became a limited company and membership base was expanded to include Cooperative Sector Institutions and Public Sector Companies. Evidently the Respondent, IPL has diversified into many sectors of operation, however, its mainstay or prime focus is still agriculture and farming. Being farmer friendly thus remains their USP as also their business motto. The objective of the Government behind the creation of the IPL was to aid the agrarian sector. Till date the IPL is one of the only three agencies of the Government of India for import of urea, the other two being STC and MMTC; and the Respondent is classified as a STE [State Trading Enterprise]. Together these three STEs are responsible for import of urea on Government account for direct agricultural use. The aim and objective of the Government to render assistance and agricultural support to the farmers in the form of fertilizers etc. is fulfilled by these three STEs viz. State Trading Corporation [STC], Mines and Minerals Trading Corporation [MMTC] and Indian Potash Limited [IPL]. Though the Government imports urea through other private agencies as well, yet the same is on the basis of specific individual agreements of the Government with such private agencies, unlike in the case of the Respondent. Thus it is evident that the objective behind creation of the IPL still remains its core area of operation, viz. rendering support to the agricultural sector in fulfillment of the Government's aims and responsibility towards the development of the agrarian sector.
2. Being a company the issue that needs to be settled is whether the Respondent falls within the purview of Section 2 (h)(d) of the RTI Act which reads as follows:--
"i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed,
ii) non - Government Organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government."
3. We must now examine whether the IPL falls within (i) above. Obviously the question which arises is whether the Respondent can be said to be a body controlled by the Government. The records of the case reveal that a large number of members on the Board of Directors of the Respondent company are Government officials. However, simply because of existence of Government officials on the Board of Directors of the Respondent, one cannot automatically deduce that the Company is controlled by the Government and this particular issue has recently discussed and clarified by the...
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