companies are broadly classified as Public Sector (Government owned) and Private Sector Companies. Private Sector companies may further be classified as Private Limited and Public Limited Companies.
Public Limited Company means a company which is not a private limited company. It does not carry the word `private’ in its name and also do not have the restrictions as carried out in the private limited companies. Public limited companies are generally large companies with widespread shareholding with shares being quoted in the stock exchange.
By this definition it is clear that the Public Sector company do not come under 'Public Authority', and thus the question cannot be asked under Right to Information Act.
There is an additional clarification involved here. Public Sector companies like nationalised banks, insurance companies, GAIL, SAIL, Hindustan Zinc Ltd etc have their own PIO/CPIOs since they fall within the purview of "owned, controlled or substantially financed" by the government.
Only those public limited companies that are in the private corporate sector cannot be compelled to provide information under RTI. Even in respect of such companies, basic information about them is available with the Registrar of Companies since they are required to file periodical returns and this information with ROC is open to public.
Please donot get yourself confused over the terms Public Ltd Co & Public Sector Co.
If in any company, not less than 51% of the paid up shares are held by the Central/State government, or partly by the Central and one or more of the state governments, then such a company is deemd as a government company.
In our country we have quite a lot of such limited companies which are not under the private sector, but functioning under the public sector.
During this Jan.2007 alone, the CIC has decided appeals against more than a score of such companies, whose replies to RTI applications were found unsatisfactory by the applicants.
Just to name a few : BSNL, MTNL, BHEL, GAIL, Container Corporation of India Ltd., Mazagon Dock Ltd, RITES Ltd, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Central Bank of India, State Bank of India, PNB, IOB, Oriental Bank of Commerce, NTPC Ltd, Heavy Engineering Corpn Ltd etc., were just some of the limited companies who were also respondents in various appeals before CIC.
All these are public limited companies by the structure of their constitution and because of the government's share-holding in these companies, they are also considered as public sector companies and they very well come under the ambit of RTI.
The information about the companies registered in India can be found out from Ministry of Company Affairs website. (Both private as well as public).
One can obtain the information about any public limited company by purchasing a share and then asking for information. But there is no mechanism as strong as RTI.
Let us hope that in near future RTI can be extended to all companies with restriction that share holders can request information. Ministry of Company Affairs