CIC: As orders declaring Electronics & Computers Software Export Promotion Council, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts and Apparel Export Promotion Council as public authority is subjudice before Supreme Court, matter adjourned
This has reference to Commission’s Interim Order dated 10.12.2013 in the matter of Shri Anuj Kanwal Vs. Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA), New Delhi in which the Commission held that the CPIO/MOC has not clarified categorically whether O.M. No. 13/10/92-FAC dated 10.11.1997 applies to India Council of Arbitration, New Delhi. The Commission directed the CPIO, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Commerce (DOC) to file their written submissions before the Commission within three weeks. Background:
2. The appellant through his RTI application dated 1.5.2012 sought information about functions, activities and arbitration cases in respect of Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA), New Delhi. The Additional Director, ICA vide letter dated 4.5.2012 informed the appellant that ICA is an independent autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act 1960 and it is outside the purview of “public authority” as defined in the RTI Act and as such RTI is not applicable to ICA. 2.1. Aggrieved with the reply of the ICA, the appellant filed the present appeal before the Commission. 2.2. In support of his claim, the appellant during the hearing, filed rejoinder for declaring ICA as Public Authority, as follows:
The seed money and initial funds during the inception of ICA in 1965 were given by the MOC, GOI;
The land on which the ICA has office has been granted by GOI to FICCI as a grant;
GOI was providing full grants to ICA till 1999. Thereafter piecemeal and case to case grants have been given to ICA by Ministry of Law, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Shipping;
GOI vide its notification dated 30.6.1999 gave directives to all PSUs and Government Departments to adopt the arbitration clause of ICA, which is an indirect financial support by the Government. ICA circulates this OM to all PSUs to get the work on nomination basis. The details of the works can be sought from ICA as the revenue generated in ICA from Public Works Departments/PSUs, out of these instructions has been the major source of income;
There is no order on record to show that GOI has declared ICA as Autonomous Body.
2.3 During the hearing on 5.9.2013 Shri Tapan Mazumder, Director/CPIO, MOC filed his written submissions before the Commission, which inter-alia states as under:
ICA is a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and was established in 1965 for promotion and administration of commercial arbitration in India;
Since the inception of the ICA, DOC has been nominating two officials of DOC, out of a total of five Government nominees to the Governing Body of the ICA. For certain time period, the DOC provided grants to the ICA from its Market Development Assistance head;
Over the period of time, ICA has become self-sufficient both in terms of financial requirements and the administrative matters. It has acquired ‘autonomy’ status since 1997. In this regard, MOC vide OM No. 13/10/92-FAC dated 10.11.1997addressed to Chairman, All Export Promotion Councils, President, Federation of Indian Export Organizations and Director, Indian Institute of Packaging Mumbai for granting of autonomy in the Administrative Matters to all Export Promotion Councils, FIEO, IIP, etc. It would be evident from the same that autonomy was granted to all EPCs, FIEO, ILP and other organizations. Since then, no grant has been provided to ICA by the DOC, hence ICA is an independent autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act 1960 and it is outside the purview of “public authority” as defined in RTI Act.
At present, DOC does not have any role in the operation or the administrative control over the ICA except nominating two members from DOC in the Governing Body of the Council.
In response to appellant’s RTI application dated 16.7.2013, the CPIO, MOC vide letter dated 12.8.2013 replied to the query of the appellant “The dates on which the Annual Reports of ICA for the years 2010-11, 11.12.2013 have been tabled in the Parliament” – The CPIO replied that the dates on which the Annual Reports of ICA for the years 2010-11 and 2011-12 were laid down before the Parliament were 16.3.2012 and 22.2.2013 respectively. The Annual report for the period 2012-13 is not yet laid on the table of the Parliament. The appellant was informed that since ICA is an autonomous body and no more grants are being provided by DOC, DOC is not under obligation to lay down the Annual Report of ICA before the Parliament. A decision is being taken in this matter. The CPIO has pointed out to the appellant that he is a Life Individual Member of the ICA and therefore he must be aware about the structure and functioning of ICA and he may, for better understanding about ICA paraphernalia and for authenticity of the facts provided by the CPIO.
3. In compliance with the aforementioned Interim Order of the Commission dated 10.12.2013, Shri Tapan Mazumder, Director/CPIO, MOC vide his letter dated 31.12.2013 filed his written submissions before the Commission, which inter-alia states as under:
The matter for granting of autonomy in the administrative matters to all Export Promotion Councils, FIEO, IIP etc. was discussed and it was apprised to the CIC during the hearing on 5.9.2013 that autonomy was granted to all EPCs, FIEO, ILP and other organizations (including ICA) vide MOC’s O.M. No. 13/10/92- FAC dated 10.11.1997;
It is also informed that since DOC does not have any role in ICA, to remove any doubt on the role of DOC for ICA, it has been decided with the approval of Hon’ble Commerce & Industry Minister to remove ICA from the DOC website. The Annual Reports of ICA, which were continued to be placed ; before the Parliament are no more being placed from this year. Hence, it would be evident that DOC neither provides any financial assistance to ICA nor has any administrative control over it;
Hence, the said OM No. 13/10/92-FAC dated 10.11.1997 applies to all such organizations including the Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA), New Delhi. ICA is being treated as an independent autonomous body and therefore, it is outside the purview of ‘public authority’ as defined in RTI Act;
4. With regard to the EPCs various orders of the Commission are subjudice before the High Court and Supreme Court, details of which are given below:
(i) Electronics & Computers Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) Vs. Navneet Kaur subjudice before Hon’ble Supreme Court;
(ii) Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts Vs. Aashish Wadhawan – subjudice before Hon’ble Delhi High Court.
(iii) Apparel Export Promotion Council Vs. Vijay Sareen – adjourned sine die in view of the above referred matters before Hon’ble Supreme Court.
5. Since the Commission’s decisions on identical issue for declaring public authority viz. Electronics & Computers Software Export Promotion Council, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts and Apparel Export Promotion Council is subjudice before Hon’ble Supreme Court, it would not be appropriate for the Commission to take a view whether ICA is ‘public authority’ u/s 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; of the RTI Act. The appellant is advised to approach the Commission in second appeal afresh, only after the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court on Export Promotion Councils as mentioned in Para 5 above.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Anuj Kanwal v. Indian Council of Arbitration in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/002190