Right to Information
Maharashtra CIC asks public authorities to maintain e-register for all PIOs under RTI
In a landmark order, the Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) has asked public authorities to maintain an e-register for all Public Information Officers (PIOs) giving all details of the application filed under Right to Information (RTI) Act. This order was passed following a suggestion from Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner to the State Commission.
 
"...the (State Information) Commission appreciates excellent suggestion made by Shailesh Gandhi and treats his request as Complaint under section 18 of RTI Act, 2005. During last over 11 years, the Commission has noted almost total lack of review of the performance of PIOs and First Appellate Authorities (FAAs) by their superiors with the result that public authorities are not only required to pay huge compensation to the information seekers from public exchequer but the government is also responsible for ineffective implementation of such a revolutionary Act, which directly relates to citizens exercising fundamental right of 'Right to expression' enshrined in the Constitution," Ratnakar Gaikwad, the SCIC, stated in his order.
 
Mr Gandhi saw a letter from Kerala CIC about maintaining a register for RTI and decided to take up the matter with Maharashtra CIC.
 
In his suggestion to the SCIC, he said, "It is fairly difficult for Heads of Departments (HODs), and Information Commission to review overall performance of individual PIOs and FAAs on real time basis and to take corrective actions in an ongoing basis in real time. Software can easily be developed so that a dashboard showing each PIOs performance and of the public authority would be transparent for everyone to see. This will also facilitate preparation of the annual report and be a very useful tool for monitoring individual PIOs and public authorities continuously."
 
Mr Gaikwad, the SCIC, while appreciating the suggestion made by Mr Gandhi, decided to treat his request as complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act. Exercising its powers vested under Section 19(8)(a) of RTI Act, the (Maharashtra) Commission ordered that “Chief Secretary, Govt of Maharashtra should create an online RTI register in every office, which has a Public Information Officer and put on a single platform all the RTI applications filed in every office at every level where RTI applications are submitted and filed and also upload this information on the websites of Public Authorities so that Citizens can also access this vital information."
 
"This platform would facilitate the compilation and tracking of RTI applications filed offline as well as those that might be filed online with Departments. This order should be implemented by 15 June 2017 and detailed compliance should be reported to Commission by 15 June 2015 positively," Mr Gaikwad said in his order.
 
The SCIC also approved the format for maintaining the e-register as suggested by Mr Gandhi. Here is the format...
 
Suggested format
 
 
Name of PIO:                                                                        Unique Id no.  
Name of Department: 
Name of Office: 
Location: 
 
Name of First Appellate Authority: 
 
 
This has drawn considerably from a request by the CIC of Kerala to the Chief Secretary of Kerala.

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COMMENTS

GLN Prasad

2 months ago

Hon.CJ Karira, expert in RTI Act's opinion was as follows:
This order of the Maharashtra SCIC will be thrown out by a HC in a second.

The SIC has no powers to give any directions under Sec 19(8)(a) while hearing and disposing off a Complaint under Sec 18.
Hon.CJ Karira in his post in RTI INDA.ORG.

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

2 months ago

Great work, thank you Mr Shailesh Gandhi for spreading the right.

3 lakh shell companies may soon vanish from Companies’ Register
The discussion on the existence of non-operative companies or shell companies is making the rounds of corporates, with special emphasis on government departments on curing the malady. 
 
With the widespread epidemic of non-operative and shell companies in the Indian corporate environment, the Registrar of Companies (RoC) has come up with a well thought out cure. We are waiting to see what will be the next step of the RoC against the response being submitted by the companies, which should more or less be over by the end of this month as the companies have been given just 15 days to respond to the show-cause notices (SCNs). In effect, the RoC has turned the tables in the game.  Better late than never.
 
The Finance Minister had clearly indicated that action will be initiated against companies which have been created for the purpose of circulating black money and are not carrying on any business. It now seems that RoCs all over the country have given the non-operative companies (NOC) an ultimatum to either make the compliances and start doing the business activity for which they were formed, or else pack up. 
 
The RoCs have published a list of NOCs under their jurisdiction which have failed to comply with the provisions of the Act. These NOCs have to either submit their reasons for such failure or get struck off from the Companies Register maintained by the RoCs.  
 
Provisions of law
 
248. (1) Where the Registrar has reasonable cause to believe that—
(a) a company has failed to commence its business within one year of its incorporation (Inserted by Companies (Amendment) Act,2015 and is effective from 29th May, 2015);
(b) [Omitted] (Omitted by Companies (Amendment) Act,2015 and is effective from 29th May, 2015). 
(c) a company is not carrying on any business or operation for a period of two immediately preceding financial years and has not made any application within such period for obtaining the status of a dormant company under section 455,
 
he shall send a notice to the company and all the directors of the company, of his intention to remove the name of the company from the register of companies and requesting them to send their representations along with copies of the relevant documents, if any, within a period of thirty days from the date of the notice. 
 
(6) The Registrar, before passing an order under sub-section (5), shall satisfy himself that sufficient provision has been made for the realisation of all amount due to the company and for the payment or discharge of its liabilities and obligations by the company within a reasonable time and, if necessary, obtain necessary undertakings from the managing director, director or other persons in charge of the management of the company:
 
Provided that notwithstanding the undertakings referred to in this sub-section, the assets of the company shall be made available for the payment or discharge of all its liabilities and obligations even after the date of the order removing the name of the company from the register of companies.
 
(7) The liability, if any, of every director, manager or other officer who was exercising any power of management, and of every member of the company dissolved under sub-section (5), shall continue and may be enforced as if the company had not been dissolved.
 
Bold step taken by the RoCs
 
Pursuant to the power given under this section, the RoCs have taken the bold step of sending out notices to such companies. Overall the number is over 2.54 lakh companies as per the list available. The list of ROCs of Kanpur, Uttarakhand and Kashmir are not available on the website. From the data provided, it appears that Mumbai has the highest number of NOCs, at 71,530, followed by Delhi (53,312) and Hyderabad (40,200). Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Chandigarh also contribute to a massive number of NOCs, with 15-20,000 each. 
 
Of the total of over nine lakh of companies registered in India, around 30% are NOCs. The action initiated will drastically bring down the number of companies registered in India, but will however raise concerns over the sudden action of the RoCs. While the action, brought in so late, is still commendable, the moot question is why were these companies allowed to be kept in Register of Companies for so long? 
 
With the issue of the show-cause notices, companies are rushing to professionals to seek advice. If the companies accept their default and agree to being struck off the register, the directors shall be held liable for the non-compliances made so far. On the other hand, if someone wants to revive the company, the costs will he be huge, with no assurance on the prospects of the company.
 
Fate of creditors and stakeholders
 
What will be the fate of the creditors with this move by the government? What will be the consequences for the NOCs if their names are removed by the ROC from its records? 
However, if the companies are struck off what happens to the dues outstanding towards creditors, employees, labour, etc? The only way to claim the dues from the companies will be to revive the company u/s 252 (3) of the Act which reads as follows: 
 
“252 (3) If a company, or any member or creditor or workman thereof feels aggrieved by the company having its name struck off from the register of companies, the Tribunal on an application made by the company, member, creditor or workman before the expiry of twenty years from the publication in the Official Gazette of the notice under sub-section (5) of section 248 may, if satisfied that the company was, at the time of its name being struck off, carrying on business or in operation or otherwise it is just that the name of the company be restored to the register of companies, order the name of the company to be restored to the register of companies, and the Tribunal may, by the order, give such other directions and make such provisions as deemed just for placing the company and all other persons in the same position as nearly as may be as if the name of the company had not been struck off from the register of companies.”
 
This means that such aggrieved persons shall have 20 years to initiate action for recovery of their outstanding dues against the companies before the Tribunal. India is already burdened with pending litigation running into lakhs. Reviving a company in such a scenario will be a daunting task. However, the RoC, under sub-section (6) and (7) of Section 248, is entrusted with a responsibility of satisfying himself that the companies being struck off are making arrangements for realisation of the money due to them and for discharge of their liabilities. 
 
(Dheeraj Kumar Sharma works as Associate at Vinod Kothari & Company)
 

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COMMENTS

Hemlata Mohan

2 months ago

There has to be a beginning somewhere--- this is one. Every action has some
unintended consequences- cant help that given the crooked Indian mind. But atleast this will clear the augean stables and hopefully new registrations will be more sanitized . Cynicismfor every action needs to be shaken off

Ramesh Bajaj

2 months ago

Some companies will take advantage and avoid payment to shareholders, who are not in a position to file cases and go to court.

Ramesh Bajaj

2 months ago

Some companies will take advantage and avoid payment to shareholders, who are not in a position to file cases and go to court.

REPLY

Ramesh Bajaj

In Reply to Ramesh Bajaj 2 months ago

ROC should call all concerned (I cases where complaints are pending / have been made, for a hearing face to face.

Ramesh Bajaj

In Reply to Ramesh Bajaj 2 months ago

In cases, where complaints have been made, it should be made mandatory for ROC to call even the CA and Company Secretary, along with complainant and officers of the company, including chairman and directors. There should compulsorily be a hearing face to face to arrive at a solution on basis of truth and not on basis of influence / connections.

SRINIVAS SHENOY

2 months ago

I feel that it is the right follow up action taken by the government. I hope the government succeeds in this mission to clear up the black money, with the minimum of inconvenience to the general public. It is always better late than never.

Rahul Pande

2 months ago

Be wary of such actions which are more for shadow boxing less of intent.

uttamkumar dubey

2 months ago

All such moves will aid more of blackmailing and circulation of blackmoney unless govt. resort to transparent approach .There has to be clearcut guidelines for the same.Simply blowing things in air won't do.

Simple Indian

2 months ago

Seems the RoCs staff just got a bonanza, an unofficial pay hike ! Most such shell companies operate in the unorganized sector which also employ over 80% of the workforce in India. So, such steps are just to harass entrepreneurs in the MSME sector or smaller entities who are known to fudge their books with connivance of their CAs/auditors and with the 'cooperation' of tax authorities.

Notices served to Vasan Health Care, Advantage Strategic Consulting
Chennai, The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday said it has issued notices to Vasan Health Care Pvt Ltd and Advantage Strategic Consulting for violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) totalling to Rs 2,307 crore.
 
The two companies are connected to former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's son Karti P. Chidambaram.
 
The ED said it had served notice to Vasan Health Care Pvt. Ltd of Rs 2,262 crore. 
 
Advantage Strategic Consulting was served Rs 45 crore for sale of Vasan's shares to overseas investors.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 
 

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