As reported by Express news Service on on 10 February 2008:
‘Stock exchanges should also come under the purview of RTI Act’

‘Stock exchanges should also come under the purview of RTI Act’

Chandigarh, February 9 Reiterating his stand on the disclosure of information by the stock exchange under the Right to Information Act, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahut Habibullah today said the stock exchanges should come under the purview of the RTI Act as they discharge an important public function of regulating and controlling the business of sale and purchase of securities.

“Going by the definition of government or government authority under Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, stock exchanges should give out the information sought by investors under the Act,” said Habibullah.

He was in Chandigarh today as chief guest at a workshop on ‘Right to Information’, jointly organised by the Chandigarh Consumer Forum, Citizens Awareness Group and the Sirhind Consumer Protection Forum at the Chandigarh Press Club.

Referring to the barrage of questions from the members of public, who seemed perturbed with the trends in the stock markets especially in the recent few weeks, Habibullah clarified, “We have given a ruling that they are public authorities and it was their duty to provide information. Same is the case with the Discoms (electricity distribution companies) which were created by the Act of Parliament,” he said.

Both Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the Discoms have resisted RTI, said Habibullah, and have challenged the order of the Bombay and Delhi High Court.

The CIC, however, remained equally perturbed by the “unsatisfactory” performances of the states as far as the maintenance of records and their computerisation and networking as referred to under Section 4 of the Act is concerned.

“The performance of all the states in the country remains unsatisfactory for compliance with Section 4 of the Act. Assessment of the implementation of the Act by an NGO, PRIA, found that states like Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, were on the top on performance under the RTI, while Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh finished lowest. In Punjab, Information Commission does not have that much pressure,” added the CIC.

E-governance, added Habibullah, would be given top priority in the implementation of the RTI Act.

“By 2009, the government has plans wherein every Panchayat would go digital and there would be a common service centre in each district where information can be assessed on computers.” He appreciated the Chandigarh model of the sampark and the e-smpark centres and said other states should replicate the same.

Speaking on the occasion, Director Public Relations, UT, Vivek Atray agreed that the CPIOs and information officers are still reluctant and negative while giving out information to the public. But he also appreciated the fact that with the advent of the RTI Act, the old mindset in government offices is changing rapidly.