Hello Friends :
Forum for Effective Accountability and Transparency (FEAT), a Mumbai based NGO, was founded by me and 4 others on October 2, 2008. One of the objects of FEAT is to "Take necessary and appropriate steps for making the Right to Information Act, 2005 a more powerful and effective Act for citizens". Hence FEAT has decided to restart the efforts initiated by Shri Kewal Semlani to make Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) comply with the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act), which came to a grinding halt due to his death and due to certain erroneous findings made by the Central Information Commission, New Delhi (CIC) and the Hon'ble Delhi High Court. As a first step in that direction I have already issued a letter to the MD of MGL with a request to comply with the RTI Act within 7 days (PDF file of this letter enclosed as document named "MGL-MD-RTI-1"). In addition FEAT has launched a dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org for receiving citizen complaints related to MGL. I would personally be replying to these emails by devoting atleast one hour every day.
One type of "public authority" defined under Section 2 (h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) is "any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any body owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government". According to the submissions made by Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) before the Hon'ble CIC, the shareholding pattern of MGL is GAIL (India) Ltd (GAIL) and the BG Group, (U.K.) (BG) hold 49.75 % each and Government of Maharashtra (GOM) holds the balance 0.5 %. According to the website of MGL, the Board of Directors of MGL consists of 9 Directors of which 4 are independent non-executive directors, all of whom have retired from the Public sector, of which 2 have retired from GAIL. From the remaining 5 Directors, 2 are from GAIL, 2 from BG and 1 from GOM. Thus MGL is a "public authority" as defined under Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act.
Hence according to Section 5 (1) of the RTI Act, from October 2005 onwards, MGL should have complied with the RTI Act. However till date, which is almost 8 years later, MGL does not comply with the RTI Act, even after a complaint made by Shri Kewal Semlani, which resulted in the Final order dated August 1, 2008 (the Final CIC Order) passed by CIC declaring MGL as a "'Public Authority' within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act" (PDF file of the Final CIC order enclosed as document named "Full-Bench-CIC-Order-Aug1-2008"). In the Final CIC order, instead of showing Shri Kewal Semlani as the Complainant, he has been erroneously shown as an Appellant.
Rather than complying with the Final CIC order, MGL filed a Writ Petition before the Hon'ble Delhi High Court and obtained a stay on the Final CIC order. In this Writ Petition, CIC was Respondent No. 1 and Shri Kewal Semlani was Respondent No. 2. Around the time MGL obtained the stay on the Final CIC order, Shri Kewal Semlani expired. On July 16, 2009, the Hon'ble Delhi High Court made an erroneous finding that Mahadhikar, a NGO formed by Shri Kewal Semlani "had moved an application under Right to Information Act, 2005", which has been recorded in the order passed on that date (The order dated July 16, 2009 as downloaded from the website of Delhi High Court enclosed as document named "Delhi-HC-Order-July16-2009"). This error possibly could have been due to the error of CIC of showing Shri Kewal Semlani as an Appellant in the Final CIC order. Based on this erroneous finding, Hon'ble Delhi High Court directed that Mahadhikar be made Respondent No. 3 and directed MGL to take steps to serve the Amended Writ Petition on Mahadhikar within 10 days. It is pertinent to note that on this date, the Respondent No. 1, namely CIC, was represented by Advocate K.K. Nigam. However this Advocate neither brought to the notice of the Hon'ble Delhi High Court that this finding was erroneous nor offered to argue the matter in the absence of Shri Kewal Semlani.
However when the Bailiff went for service of the amended Writ Petition to the office of Mahadhikar, no one was available in their office, which has been recorded in the order passed on March 23, 2010 (The order dated March 23, 2010 as downloaded from the website of Delhi High Court enclosed as document named "Delhi-HC-Final-order-Mar-23-2010"). In the order dated March 23, 2010, the Hon'ble Delhi High Court held that the Final CIC order "which has been stayed by this Court, cannot be implemented as there is no one to whom such information is given", which also is an erroneous finding, which possibly could have been due to the error of CIC of showing Shri Kewal Semlani as an Appellant in the Final CIC order. Based on this erroneous finding, Hon'ble Delhi High Court directed "In the peculiar circumstances of the case, this Court directs that the impugned order of the CIC will not constitute as a precedent on the question whether the Mahanagar Gas Limited is a public authority within the meaning of Right to Information Act 2005. That question is left open to the decided in a appropriate case".
I have been aggrieved by forged bills from MGL. My requests to MGL to provide me with documents in support of the forged bills fell on deaf ears. In case MGL was RTI compliant then I would have been able to get the copies of these supporting documents and proved that the bills were forged bills. In case these erroneous findings were not made by the Judicial authorities, then by now we would have had a judicial order of declaring MGL as a "public authority" reach a finality and I would have been able to obtain the copies of the supporting documents. As the Ho'nble Delhi High Court has held that the question of whether MGL is a "public authority" under the RTI Act or not "is left open to the decided in a appropriate case", the efforts taken by Shri Kewal Semlani to make MGL comply to the RTI Act will have to be restarted once again from scratch, which FEAT has decided to do.
Looking at the fact that MGL engaged Senior Advocate Shri A N Haksar even before CIC, and further looking at the fact that MGL challenged the Final CIC order before the Hon'ble Delhi High Court, it appears that MGL is hell bent not to comply to the RTI Act. Thus FEAT expects that MGL would not hesitate in going right upto the Hon'ble Supreme Court and that too with Senior Advocates. We at FEAT will do all that is necessary to get a Final order directing MGL to comply to the RTI Act, which would benefit all citizens connected to MGL, including the employees of MGL. Hence we request citizens / employees of MGL / NGO's / Corporates and Political parties to whole heartedly support FEAT in this cause by making generous voluntary contributions. Please send the cheques for the voluntary contribution favoring "Forum for Effective Accountability and Transparency", with your name and address to our office at Tulips House (3rd Floor), 101, Shivaji Park, Dadar Mumbai 400028. These contributions would be entitled to tax exemption under Section 80-G of the Income Tax Act. Within 7 days of receipt of these donations we will send the stamped receipt by courier.
Apart from the forged bills, at the time of the disconnection, MGL employees and contractors committed cognizable offenses. In the above circumstances I submitted two Police Complaints dated August 4, 2013 and August 6, 2013 to Powai Police Station. However rather than registering the FIR's, Powai Police Station issued me incorrect and illegal letters. I will not only take steps to have the FIR's registered against MGL and its employees and contractors but also against the Senior for not registering FIR against them and for issuing incorrect and illegal letters.
The battle of making MGL RTI compliant and getting these FIR's registered is a long batlle ahead. I will keep all of you informed as the activities progress. I thank all of you to have patiently read this email and request all of you to support the cause of making MGL RTI compliant by not only making generous voluntary contributions favoring "Forum for Effective Accountability and Transparency" but also by forwarding this email to as many people known to you.
(Lead Founder - FEAT)
Encl: As Above
Attachment(s) from Milind Kotak
4 of 4 File(s)
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