Army Welfare Housing Organisation comes under the ambit of RTI Act: CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while hearing an appeal, has held that the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) is an extension of the Army and hence comes under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The AWHO claimed to be a private body stating that it was a society registered with the Registrar of Societies and the sole objective of providing housing to the Army personnel (serving and retired) and their widows on 'no profit no loss' basis. It contended that the senior army officers on its board of management are only in ex-officio capacity and don't receive any remuneration from AWHO for their services.
However, CIC didn't agree with the explanation served by the AWHO counsel and held that AWHO was merely an extension of the Army. It said that Army officers are deputed to AWHO on terms and conditions determined by the Ministry of Defence. The CIC also refuted the organisation’s contention that despite overwhelming presence of senior Army officers in its Board of Management, it is not controlled either by the Army or the Defence Ministry.
The full bench of CIC, in its order declared that AWHO is a public authority under Right to Information Act as the Chief of Army Staff and the Adjutant General, both have absolute control over the organisation’s affairs. It also ordered to appoint the PIO to comply with the provisions of the RTI Act within a month.