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Thread: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO

  1. #11
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported in ddnews.gov.in on 17 March 2009:
    'Speaker's nod needed to disclose assets of ministers from LS' - www.ddinews.com

    'Speaker's nod needed to disclose assets of ministers from LS'


    The CIC has referred the matter on public disclosure of assets of Union ministers belonging to Lok Sabha, under the Right to Information Act, to the Speaker.

    In its observation, the CIC said, "...because under the Lok Sabha Rules...such information is not disclosable except with the permission of the Speaker, the matter will be referred to Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the Lok Sabha for disclosure of such information as relates to those Members of the Council of Ministers who are Members of the Lok Sabha."

    Regarding the ministers belonging to Rajya Sabha, the Central Information Commission (CIC) said if there is a similar rule for the House, the same could also be exercised or else the matter be referred to the third parties (ministers in this case) to seek nod for disclosing the assets.

    "If there is any equivalent Rule with regard to the Rajya Sabha, this may also be exercised, although, we were not told of existence of any such Rules during the hearing," it said.

    "If no such rules in fact exist, the matter will be referred to the third parties concerned...This process may be completed within 30 working days of the date of issue of the Decision Notice," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

    The Commission rejected the argument of PMO that details of assets and liabilities of ministers were in fiduciary relationship, and said, "To argue a fiduciary relationship in submission of such statements to PMO, when such statements have in any case under law also to be made available at the time of election before the Election Commission of India, is not in our view a valid argument."

    The matter relates to RTI application of Subhash Chandra Agrawal who sought information on assets, wealth and income of members of all the ministers in the Union Ministry for the last two years.

    But the matter kept scuttling between the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat as who holds the requisite information. In December last year, the PMO informed Agrawal that information could not be given as it was exempt from disclosure.

    The CIC, however, made reference to a Supreme Court judgement said, "When there is a competition between the right to privacy of an individual and the right to information of the citizens, the former right has to be subordinated to the latter right as it serves larger public interest."

    "The right to know about the candidate who intends to become a public figure and a representative of the people would not be effective and real if only truncated information of the assets and liabilities is given," it added.



  2. #12
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    Cabinet asset details only if Somnath says so: CIC


    As reported by Krishnadas Rajagopal at www.indianexpress.com on 16 March 2009

    New Delhi : Assets of the Union Council of Ministers and their kin will be open for public scrutiny under the Right to Information Act, provided the Lok Sabha Speaker gives his nod first, the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Monday said.

    “As per the Lok Sabha Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Rules, information held in confidence is not disclosable, except with the permission of the Speaker. The matter will be referred to Shri Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, for disclosure if information relates to Members of the Council of Ministers from the Lok Sabha,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah directed.

    In case of the Rajya Sabha, the CIC said, “If there is any equivalent rule with regard to the Rajya Sabha, the same may also be exercised. If no such rules in fact exist, the matter will be referred to the third parties concerned.” The Bench gave 30 days’ time to the Upper House to draft the necessary rules for kick-starting a procedure.

    The Bench dismissed the contentions of the Prime Ministers’ Office (PMO) that ministers divulged details of their assets to it in a “fiduciary” nature. “To argue a fiduciary relationship in submission of statements (on assets) to PMO, when such statements have in any case under law also to be made available at t the time of election before the Election Commission of India, is not in our view a valid argument,” Habibullah observed in his judgment. Arguing for RTI appellant SC Agarwal, his counsel and senior Supreme Court lawyer, Kamini Jaiswal, submitted before the Bench that “it is very much in the public interest to know of the assets of the Ministers holding public office and particularly, what property they may have acquired after the declaration of their assets before the Election Commission of India”.

    Source: Cabinet asset details only if Somnath says so: CIC

  3. Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    How does the Lok Sabha rule come into play so long as Sec 22 is there in place?

  4. #14
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO



    As reported by Nagendar Sharma in hindustantimes.com on 29 March 2009:
    Ministers? assets to be made public- Hindustan Times

    Ministers’ assets to be made public

    In a major step towards transparency in public life of politicians, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has made it clear that the wealth details of Union ministers, their spouses and children would be made public.

    The Speaker’s statement has put an end to the controversy, which arose after the the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) denied to divulge the information under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

    The information watchdog, the Central Information Commission (CIC), had left the matter to the Speaker while deciding the appeal of Delhi resident S.C. Aggarwal. He had approached the commission after the PMO had refused to provide him with the details.

    Asked about his view on the matter, the Speaker said: “The Prime Minister’s Office was probably inspired by some other high institutions. The same yardstick would be applied to hon’ble ministers who are members of the Lok Sabha, as are applied to MPs.”

    The Speaker said he would decide on the matter “as soon as it is put up before him.”

    Chatterjee had allowed the Lok Sabha Secretariat to provide information on MPs assets details, soon after the RTI Act came into existence in October 2005, though the Parliament rules provide for this information to be kept confidential.

    “The rules say that the information provided in a sealed cover to the presiding officer of each House is confidential and can be opened only by the presiding officer. However, in keeping with the spirit of the RTI Act, I asked my office to provide details sought by the public,” Chatterjee said.

    The CIC, in its order, had made it clear that since the presiding officer of the respective House of Parliament of which the ministers are members holds their wealth details, “therefore the matter is referred to Somnath Chatterjee, the Lok Sabha Speaker.”

    The commission pointed out that the information sought “was held in confidence, as is recognised by the Lok Sabha rules, and therefore required third party reference — that is the Speaker’s reference.”

    About those ministers who are members of Rajya Sabha, the CIC ruled that the same yardstick as Lok Sabha would be applicable to them.
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported by Sudhir Kumar in samaylive.com on 21 April 2009:
    Rajya Sabha to provide asset details of ministers under RTI :: Samay Live

    Rajya Sabha to provide asset details of ministers under RTI


    New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha has agreed to provide asset details of the union ministers, who are members of the house, to an RTI applicant.

    The Rajya Sabha secretariat while replying to an RTI query from activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, said details about assets and liabilities of 16 out of 18 union ministers belonging to Rajya Sabha were available with it. It also asked Agrawal to deposit requisite fee for the papers.

    Agrawal wanted information on assets, wealth and income of all the ministers in the UPA government and their spouse. But the matter kept scuttling between the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat as who holds the requisite information.

    In December last year, the PMO informed Agrawal that details could not be given as the information was exempted from disclosure.

    During the hearing of the plea, CIC referred the matter to the speakers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha saying "such information is not disclosable except with the permission of the Speaker." After the decision, Agrawal filed fresh RTI applications to both the houses in the same matter.

    "You had sought information regarding assets and wealth of ministers in the Union Council of Ministers including their spouse and dependent children. The...Information is now available," the Secretariat responded.

    Earlier the CIC while referring the matter to the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha held, "the matter will be referred to Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the Lok Sabha for disclosure of such information as relates to those Members of the Council of Ministers who are Members of the Lok Sabha." Regarding the ministers belonging to Rajya Sabha, the Central Information Commission (CIC) said if there is a similar rule for the House, the same could also be exercised or else the matter be referred to the third parties (ministers in this case) to seek nod for disclosing the assets.

    "If there is any equivalent rule with regard to the Rajya Sabha, this may also be exercised, although, we were not told of existence of any such rules during the hearing," it said.

    The Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah based its decision on a Supreme Court Judgement which said, "The right to know about the candidate who intends to become a public figure and a representative of the people would not be effective and real if only truncated information of the assets and liabilities is given.
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported in hindu.com on 05 May 2009:
    The Hindu News Update Service

    14 ministers from Rajya Sabha worth over Rs 1 crore each


    New Delhi (PTI) The Rajya Sabha has disclosed asset details of 18 ministers belonging to the House and said 14 of them including their spouses and dependents have assets worth over Rs 1 crore each.

    The Upper House made the disclosure following an RTI application by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.

    Mr. Agrawal had sought details of asset declarations made by the ministers before the House under the Members of Rajya Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liability) Rules, 2004.

    Asset details of Saif-ud-din Soz and G K Vasan were, however, not available as Soz's 90-day time limit, prescribed for filing the details has not been completed whereas Mr. Vasan's form was not complete, the RTI reply said.

    According to the list given by the house, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel is the richest member-minister from the Rajya Sabha with declared assets worth Rs 31.89 crore. His wife Varsha Patel has Rs 4.96 crore, making the combined assets of the couple worth about Rs 37 crore. Seventeen other ministers from the House including their spouses and dependents are worth over Rs 1 crore each, the reply said.

    In his latest affidavit before the Election Commission, Mr. Praful Patel has declared assets worth Rs 38 crores.
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported by Himanshi Dhawan of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 06 May 2009:
    Guns, trucks among RS ministers' assets - India - The Times of India

    Guns, trucks among RS ministers' assets

    NEW DELHI: PM Manmohan Singh may jet across half the world to meet world leaders but he appears most comfortable in his Maruti 800. While the PM
    has retained the car long after it went out of fashion, law minister H R Bharadwaj's preoccupation appears to be guns -- he owns two of them -- when not parrying questions on Q.

    Civil aviation minister Praful Patel is on top of the world in more than one respect. He also happens to be the richest Cabinet minister from Rajya Sabha with a combined worth of Rs 46.8 crore. These include land holdings/flats owned by Patel, his wife and four dependent children in prime locations like Napeansea Road and Worli in Mumbai.

    These are part of the details disclosed by the Rajya Sabha secretariat on its members who are also in the Union Cabinet. The disclosure was made in response to a Right to Information query filed by applicant Subhash Chandra Agarwal asking for asset declaration of ministers' and their kin.

    There are 18 members of the Rajya Sabha who are currently in the council of ministers. Of the lot, water resources minister Saifuddin Soz has not filed his returns as the stipulated 90 day period prescribed for filing declaration of assets for him is not over yet while details submitted by G K Vasan were found incomplete.

    If Patel is on top of the heap, defence minister A K Antony has the least financial muscle with a combined worth of Rs 17.9 lakh. Petroleum minister Murli Deora follows Patel at the top with a combined worth of Rs 35 crore while minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar is a distant third with assets worth Rs 8.7 crore. Kumar and sports minister M S Gill (worth Rs 2.5 crore) have larger investments in shares and mutual funds than others.

    If the PM's choice of vehicle is surprising despite his combined worth of Rs 4.3 crore, so is HRD minister Arjun Singh's. The latter owns four Tata trucks while parliamentary affairs minister Vayalar Ravi and power minister Sushilkumar Shinde own Fiats.

    Tourism minister Ambika Soni is not too badly off with a combined worth of Rs 7.5 crore including Rs 3.32 lakh in silver utensils and properties in Panchsheel Park in Delhi, land holdings in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh owned by her husband. MoS (Prime Minister's Office) Prithviraj Chavan has a combined worth of Rs 2.8 crore while MoS external affairs Anand Sharma, his wife and sons have assets worth Rs 2.5 crore.
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  8. #18
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 Aug 2010
    ?Disclosure of minister?s assets is PMO?s call? - India - The Times of India

    ‘Disclosure of minister’s assets is PMO’s call’

    NEW DELHI: The executive on Monday lost another excuse to prevent disclosure of ministers' assets after the Lok Sabha Secretariat rejected a request from the Prime Minister's Office seeking the legislature's permission.

    The LS secretariat declined the request saying the RTI Act does not have any provision for giving such "clearances''. This means the PMO has to take a call on whether details of ministers' wealth should be disclosed or not.

    Incidentally, the reference to the LS secretariat came on the directions of the Central Information Commission.

    Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah had in an order said, "PMO will refer the application with respect to those ministers who are members of the Lok Sabha to Speaker Meira Kumar and those who are members of the Rajya Sabha to Chairman Hamid Ansari for permission to disclose the information, on receipt of which the information will be provided.'' His order came on a RTI application filed by S C Agrawal.

    The secretariat asked the PMO to take a call under relevant sections of the RTI Act and the "spirit underlying" the order of the CIC but maintained the House is providing these details about ministers in their capacity as MPs.

    Responding to PMO's request, the LS secretariat said, "The RTI Act does not anywhere provide for giving clearance by one public authority to another public authority for providing information being maintained by that public authority to an applicant by the RTI Act. Under the circumstances, it is felt that the instant reference is not required to be placed before Speaker Lok Sabha.''

    The members of the House have to declare their assets and liabilities within 90 days of taking oath as MPs under Rule 3 of the Members of the Lok Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Rules, 2004), it said.

    "On request for information regarding assets and liabilities regarding ministers being maintained by the PMO, they may take a considered view of the application keeping in view the provisions if any, pertaining to confidentiality of information furnished by the ministers to the PMO, provisions of the section 22 of the RTI Act and the spirit underlying the CIC decision,'' it said.
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  9. #19

    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    Thank you Shri Kariraji for posting the useful information and
    updating the information in its right perspective. In the given
    context of the salary hike of MPs, it is most relevant.

    MOHANDAS.

  10. #20
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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported by IANS in newkerala.com on 29 August 2010:
    Ministers' assets: RTI activist says PMO withholding details .:. newkerala.com Online News - United States 30793

    Ministers' assets: RTI activist says PMO withholding details

    New Delhi, Aug 29: A right to information (RTI) activist has urged the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah to question the Prime Minister's
    Office (PMO) for not giving details of union ministers' wealth.

    RTI activist Subash Chandra Agrawal has asked Habibullah to issue a notice "for non-compliance of its (CIC) earlier order of providing the details of the assets of union ministers".

    In a letter to the CIC, Agrawal recalled that the CIC directed the PMO in June to provide "complete details of the wealth and assets of the ministers available with the PMO".

    The CIC order said the details could be shared after seeking the permission of the presiding officers of the two houses of parliament.

    "Despite getting a clearance from the two houses, the PMO is not complying with the order of the CIC, which is a de-facto denial of information under the RTI Act," Agrawal said.

    In such a situation, the CIC should issue a notice to the PMO for non-compliance of its order and denial of information, Agrawal said.
    Twitter: @cjkarira

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