CIC: provide file notings related to sale / lease permissions given by DoT to TCL of various properties belonging to the VSNL; provide details of relatives of employees of DoT who are employed in the TCL; provide if reserve fund of VSNL was given to TCL
1- How many former employees of Videsh Sanchar Seva have been absorbed by VSNL and how many were given notional pay scale after promotion, provide complete details with name, post, date, and complete documents. 2- TCL has given a representation to the DOT for selling the immovable assets of VSNL. Provide the copy of the said representation? 3- Up till 02/02/2002 how much fund of VSNL was kept as reserved and how much amount was given to TATA Group from reserve fund after disinvestment. Provide complete details with documents.
The appellant through 10 queries had sought information related to VSNL/TCL being principal partner, business details of Tata Sky and Tata Tele Services ltd, on what basis they are operating in Delhi, whether DOT has given approval, then a copy of approval, whether this company can give SHA/SPA private companies to operate in its premises, properties rented by VSNL/TCL and OCS and other related information.
The appellant through 09 queries had sought information about rules under which Tata Group company VSNL has been named as Tata Communications Ltd, whether any approval was taken then a copy, whether name of VSNL has been changed as Tata Communications Ltd in the property documents, whether any property tax etc was given before registering their name, details of stamp duty paid, how much tax rebate was given and other related information.
The appellant through 19 queries had sought information about how properties of VSNL can be mentioned as TCL Limited, whether TATA is only working partner of sole owner, whether TCL has the power to sell the properties of VSNL, under which rule this permission was given to the TCL, whether President of India’s permission was taken before doing so, how much amount is being spent on the cases that are pending in various courts against VSNL/TCL, how the properties are rented, how the permission of selling quarters were given that is surplus to 773 acres and other related information.
The appellant through 15 queries had sought information as to who is the sole owner of TCL, in 2002 how much fund was with VSNL, where and how ownership was given to M/s Panaton Finvest Limited and for which properties, who is the ownership of quarters of VSNL at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Puna, whether permission for selling was given to TCL, how and on what grounds the properties are being sold and who is purchasing it, how much share given to the employees after disinvestment and other related information.
The appellant through 05 queries had sought information about office order no. 39-7/2011-SU dated 23/01/2012 issued by DOT under Sub-Rules 2 to Rule 37 A of CCS 1972. In how many companies and employees this rule is applicable, how much financial burden the govt. has suffered due to this, whether revision in pension was given on 01/01/2007 or from other date, status of employees after disinvestment and other related information.
Grounds for the Second Appeal:
The information as desired has not been given.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing held on 13/06/2014:
The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Ujjwal S. Tiga
Respondent: Mr. Anil Kumar Gautam CPIO Since similar issues of law and facts are involved all the appeals are being heard collectively and disposed of by a common order. The appellant stated that he is asking for the information relating to the period prior to 2002 when the VSNL was a PSU under the DOT. He further stated that the respondent have wrongly claimed exemptions under the RTI Act as M/s. TCL is required to obtain permission from the DoT before selling any asset. The CPIO informed that the VSNL was incorporated as a100% GOI owned PSU w.e.f. 01/04/1986 and as part of the disinvestment process the undertaking was disinvested after a bidding process in favour of M/s. Panatone Finvest Ltd. (PFL) w.e.f. 13/02/2002 and thereafter the company ceased to be a PSU and the entire management and control stood transferred to PFL from the said date. The appellant argued that as per Section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act the DoT is required to provide information “relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any law for the time being in force” and hence the information which is not available with them has to be gathered from M/s. TCL and supplied to him. The CPIO stated that he needs time to examine the appellant’s contention and requested for adjournment.
Interim Decision notice dated 13/06/2014:
As requested by the CPIO it is decided to grant adjournment and invite written submissions from him demonstrating in detail his stand on the issue at hand, so that full facts are brought on record. Accordingly, the CPIO should furnish his submissions to the Commission (endorsing a copy to appellant) by 15/07/2014. The CPIO should send his submissions to the Commission by post and also by e-mail at email@example.com The matters are adjourned for 30/07/2014 at 3.00 PM.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 30/07/2014:
The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Ujjwal S. Tiga
Respondent: Mr. Rajeev Kumar Kaushik CPIO’s representative
At the outset the respondent informed that M/s TCL vide their communication dated 17/07/2014 have contended that a citizen’s right to seek information from a public authority is restricted to the information held by the public authority or which is under its control. M/s TCL while clarifying that it is not a public authority as defined under the RTI Act, have argued that under provisions of the Act, the public authority is obliged to share only those information relating to a private body, which is, otherwise, available with it or accessible to it in its capacity as a regulator. It has been further contended that neither the provisions of Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act nor the license conditions oblige a private sector entity to disclose its confidential or commercially sensitive information in response to RTI applications filed with the public authority. The appellant stated that in his RTI applications he has sought details relating to permission(s) given by the DoT to TCL for sale/lease etc of various properties/premises belonging to the VSNL and he wants the relevant file notings relating to grant of such permissions. He further stated that relatives of employees of DoT/retired employees of DoT are employed in the TCL and he wants to know their details along with file notings. He pleaded that some former employees of overseas communication services had been absorbed in the VSNL prior to 2002 and were given notional pay scale after promotion and he wants their names & designation. While concluding the appellant alleged that before disinvestment VSNL was holding huge amount of reserve funds and he wants to know whether the same or any part thereof has been given to TCL. The CPIO’s representative stated that he will go through the files and provide the information as available on record.
As agreed by the CPIO he should go through the records carefully and provide the information as above to the appellant within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. In case some information is not available on record the same should clearly informed to the appellant. The appeals are disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Mr. Ujjwal S. Tiga v. Department of Telecommunications (SU Section) in File No. CIC/BS/A/2013/001080+001081+001082+001083+001084+001085/5670