India, Maharashtra, vijay kumbhar, News, Governance, RTI, Transparency, Civic Issues, Real Estate: The controversy emerged after 97th amendment to the constitution of India

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The controversy emerged after 97th amendment to the constitution of India

The controversy emerged after 97th amendment to the constitution of India has not stopped yet. Though there is no specific and big reaction from the cooperative fraternity, the frustration amongst them is visible enough. Until today lot of people concerned have given their reactions on telephone but no one is ready to come on the record hence it will not be ethical to write here on those reactions. However, some people from co-operative sector as well as RTI fraternity have expressed their views in the media. So let us examine those views in light of provisions of RTI act.

State chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad said, "I don’t think that they come under RTI Act. One has to read section 2(h) of the RTI Act to see what it covers. Just because an amendment enables something to come up, does not mean it is established by the government. Societies are a body formed by 20 people. Where is the public interest in that? Even if it did come under RTI, whom will we fine as public information officers? Private companies too are formed under Companies Act but that does not mean they come under RTI unless they are financed or adhere to some of the provisions.

Prahlad Kachre, director of Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration's RTI cell, said inclusion of cooperative bodies under RTI should be decided on merit. "Cooperative societies are not technically formed by the government. They are registered by respective authorities and I do not know if they qualify for RTI,"

Cooperative commissioner Madhukar Chowdhury said, "RTI would be applicable, but only for members of cooperatives." We have not received any directions from the government about applicability of RTI to cooperatives for the general public till date,"

As per ratnakar gaikawad and pralhad kachre, government does not form or establish co operative societies, some people come together and form those hence RTI act is not applicable to them. That means as per both of them co-operatives does not fall in the definition of "public authority" under RTI act.

Let us see the definition of public authority under RTI act. As per section 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;

In this entire definition, nowhere it is mentioned that "public authority" must be established or constituted by government only. Yes, it is another fact that most of the public authorities are established by government. It is also true that bodies that fall in the section 2(h) (d) are in the ambit of RTI act, whether those are formed or established by, or government or not. But that doesn't mean bodies formed or established other than government but which fall in sections other than 2 (h) (d) doesn't come under the ambit of RTI act.

Let us see this. As per Government of India's official website, there are around 1053 autonomous bodies in India. All of those are in the ambit of RTI act because that fall in the section 2(h) (b) of RTI act .Most of these bodies are not established or formed by the government. In fact, some of these institutes were formed by private individuals also. Later on government, as per act passed by parliament government gave them status of autonomous bodies. Some of those institutes were earlier registered under public trust act or registration of societies act. Even then, government gave them status of autonomous bodies later on. The same thing is with the bodies that fall in the section 2(h) (c) of the RTI act.

It proves that to attract provisions of RTI act, it is not necessary that the institute must be established by the government only. However, it must fall under any of the sub - section of 2(h). And if bodies falling under section 2(h) , (b) (c) and (d) do not demand the criteria that those must be established by the government, then why only bodies fall under the section 2 (h) (a) only should require that criteria , what is the logic behind that?.

As per Cooperative commissioner, Madhukar Chowdhury, RTI would be applicable, but only for members of cooperatives .In the act itself list of bodies that do not attract provisions of RTI has been given (In some circumstances RTI is applicable to them also) .Once provisions of rti act are applicable, those become applicable to one and all and not for the section of the society.

As per ratnakar gaikwad, some people come together and form cooperative society, what is public interest in that? .If we look at the last few years performance of the cooperatives. It can be easily established that how some people came together , formed a cooperative societies and ran away with common peoples hard earned  money and government  loans and guarantee towards loans that was  to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees .And as far as public interest is concerned , it is applicable only when question of third party information , information that is given in fiduciary relation ship or disclosure of the information that may endanger the life or physical safety of any person. Other wise there is no provision for considering public interest while disclosing information.


IT is clear that after 97th amendment the difficulties of co-operative societies have increased considerably. To comply with the some of the amended provisions is literally impossible. It is need of time to find solution for that. However, that doesn't mean all the co operative housing societies are innocent, how can we forget Adarsh co operative housing society so early? It is also visible that some people have suddenly realised the gravity of difficulties faced by housing societies, and are trying to hide behind them. Let us see what tricks the play to keep co-operative societies out of ambit of RTI act 

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