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CIC DECISION ON MY APPEALS
Decision on Centaur Hotel Valuation Report
Home | Decision Against Election Commission of India | Decision on Centaur Hotel Valuation Report

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

No. CIC/OK/A/2006/00164 Dated, the 8th September, 2006

Name of the Appellant : Shri Milap Choraria

B-5/52, Sectdor-7, Rohini

Delhi – 110085.

Name of the Public Authorities : 1. Ministry of Civil Aviation, New Delhi.

2. Department of Disinvestment, New Delhi.

DECISION

This was the second hearing in the present case. To recapitulate: Shri Milap Choraria wrote to the Ministry of Civil Aviation asking for details about the assessment by the Global Advisers M/s. Jardine Fleming India Securities Private Limited (J P Morgan) of the market value of the land and properties possessed by the Centaur Hotel at the airport in Mumbai. As the Department of Disinvestment which is concerned with the issue refused to accept the transfer of the case since they held that it had reached them after 5 days, the CPIO of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, who learned that the concerned papers were with the CBI, called for them from the CBI. On examination of the case he came to the conclusion that disclosure of this information would impede the process of inquiry. The Commission heard the case on 10th August, 2006 and felt that the proper agency to answer the question whether disclosure of this information would indeed impede the process of investigation was the CBI.

Therefore, it decided to call the CBI at the next hearing besides the Department of Investment. A hearing was scheduled on 1.9.2006 and notices were issued to the concerned.

2. The hearing was held on 1.9.2006 as scheduled. Shri Sandeep Prakash, Director & Appellate Authority and Shri K. Ramakrishnan, US and CPIO from the Ministry of Civil Aviation; Shri Anuj Gogia, Deputy Secretary & CPIO, Department of Disinvestment and Shri Pankaj Srivastava, SP, and Shri V.M. Mittal, Inspector from CBI were present on behalf of the Respondents.

3. The Appellant, Shri Milap Choraria, was present in person.

4. The CBI representatives were asked to explain how the disclosure of the information requested by the Appellant would impede the process of investigation. The CBI representative said that the inquiry was at an advanced stage and is likely to be over in 3-4 months. Disclosure of these papers at this stage would be used to influence witnesses. Further, they said that efforts could be made to influence the decision by giving the information to the media. The Commission accepted the CBI’s contention but at the same time expressed its reservation that there had been cases where the CBI had taken years to come to a conclusion and that the Commission could not accept the fact that the documents be kept away from the applicant forever. Therefore, it gave the CBI six months’ time (upto February end) to complete its process of inquiry after which the CBI would lose the rationale for holding on to the documents.

5. The Commission ordered accordingly.

Sd/-

(O.P. Kejariwal)

Information Commissioner

Authenticated true copy:

Sd/-

(L.C. Singhi)

Additional Registrar

Cc:

1. Shri Milap Choraria, B-5/52, Sectdor-7, Rohini, Delhi – 110085.

2. Shri Sandeep Prakash, Director and Appellate Authority, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, B-Block, New Delhi – 110002.

3. Shri Anuj Gogia, Deputy Secretary & CPIO, Department of Disinvestment, Room No. 211, Block-11, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003.

4. Shri Pankaj Srivastava, Supdt. of Police, Central Bureau of Investigation, Anti Corruption Unit-I, 8th Floor, Block No.3, CGO Complex, New Delhi – 110003.

5. Officer Incharge, NIC.

6. Press E Group, CIC.

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

No. CIC/OK/A/2006/00164

Dated, the 11th August, 2006

Name of the Appellant:Shri Milap Choraria

B-5/52, Sectdor-7, Rohini

Delhi – 110085.

Name of the Public Authorities: 1. Ministry of Civil Aviation, New Delhi.

2. Department of Disinvestment, New Delhi.

ORDER

Background:

Shri Milap Choraria wrote to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on 20.12.05 asking for details about the assessment of the market value of the land and properties possessed by the Centaur Hotel at the airport in Mumbai by the Global Advisers M/s. Jardine Fleming India Securities Private Limited (J P Morgan). The CPIO of the Ministry of Civil Aviation forwarded the application to the Department of Disinvestment who were supposed to hold this information. The CPIO of this Department did not accept the transfer of request merely because it reached them more than 5 days after the request was made. The Commission looks upon this lapse of the Department of Disinvestment very seriously because it expects the Right to Information Act, 2005 to be made functional in spirit as much as in letter with more emphasis on the former. The Department of Disinvestment is hereby warned that such lapses in future would invite strictures from the Commission.

2. As the Department of Disinvestment refused to accept the transfer of Shri Choraria’s appeal, it was recalled by the CPIO of the Ministry of Civil Aviation who learned that the concerned papers were now with the CBI. The CPIO called for these papers from the CBI and examined them himself; coming to the conclusion that disclosure of this information would impede the

process of inquiry.

3. The case was heard on 10th August, 2006. Shri Sandeep Prakash, Director and Appellate Authority of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Shri K. Ramakrishnan, Under Secretary and CPIO were present on behalf of the Respondents. The Appellant Shri Milap Choraria was present in person.

Decision:

4. While the Commission appreciated the initiative of the CPIO, Ministry of Civil Aviation, it felt that the proper agency to answer such a question whether disclosure of this information would indeed impede the process of investigation was the CBI and hence, it was decided to call the CBI at the next hearing.

5. Notices may be issued for the next hearing to be held on 1st

September, 2006 at which the representatives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Department of Disinvestment and the Central Bureau of Investigation, together with the Appellant may be present.

6. The Commission ordered accordingly.

Sd/-

(O.P. Kejariwal)

Information Commissioner

Authenticated true copy:

Sd/-

(L.C. Singhi)

Additional Registrar

Cc:

1. Shri Milap Choraria, B-5/52, Sectdor-7, Rohini, Delhi – 110085.

2. Shri Sandeep Prakash, Director and Appellate Authority, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, B-Block, New Delhi – 110002.

3. Shri Anuj Gogia, Deputy Secretary & CPIO, Department of Disinvestment, Room No. 211, Block-11, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003.

4. Shri Pankaj Srivastava, Supdt. of Police, Central Bureau of Investigation, Anti Corruption Unit-I, 8th Floor, Block No.3, CGO Complex, New Delhi – 110003.

5. Officer Incharge, NIC.

6. Press E Group, CIC.

TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL