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RBI rejects RTI on why exchange of old notes not allowed till March 31

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New Delhi, March 27: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has yet again refused to reply an RTI related to decision by the central bank regarding the demonetisation of high currency notes. 

This time RBI has denied an RTI seeking clarification on why conversion of old currency notes is not allowed till March 31, 2017 for Indians as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 while addressing the nation on Television.

The RBI has claimed that the RBI query to this matter is not under the definition of “information” as per the transparency law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016, announced demonetisation and assured the nation that they can convert the old notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 till March 31.

However later on, the RBI in its directive said that the window till March 31 will be kept only for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

In its response to the RTI, the RBI refused to share file notings on the decision to limit currency conversion window till March 31 only for NRIs, saying it would be against the economic interests of the state.

The applicant had sought reasons, as “recorded” in the files of the RBI, behind the decision to not allow conversion of currency till March 31 for Indians as assured by the PM.

The question is in the nature of seeking reasons or justification from CPIO which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” said the response form Suman Ray, central public information officer.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court has clarified the issue in one of its noted judgements saying if opinion or advice is available in the records of the public authority, it will come under the definition of the “information” under the RTI Act.

Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that section 8(2) of the RTI Act allows disclosure of information, even if it is exempted, if it is in larger public interest.

The RTI Act defines “information” as “any material in any form” held by or under the control of a public authority.

The definition covers “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, 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”.

The bankers’ bank has stonewalled almost every RTI query pertaining to demonetisation citing one or the other reason.

It had refused to respond if the views of finance minister Arun Jaitley or the chief economic adviser were taken before demonetisation was announced, it had also refused to disclose reasons behind the sudden move, among others.

It had also refused to allow access to minutes of the meetings held to decide on the issue of demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

After the deadline to exchange the scrapped notes expired on December 30, 2016, the government issued an ordinance saying only those who were abroad, the armed forces personnel posted in remote areas, or others who could give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes, can do so till March 31.

Wefornews Bureau (with PTI inputs)

India

India retaliates after Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

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Pulwama encounter

Srinagar, Dec 18 : India is strongly retaliated after Pakistan Army resorted to heavy mortar shelling    along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.

Pakistan Army  violated ceasefire by indiscriminate firing with small arms, automatics, and mortars .The troops guarding the borderline retaliated and the  exchange of fire was continuing intermittently  when last reports came in. The unprovoked firing from Pakistan side began in the evening.

On December 12, an encounter broke out between militants and security forces in Sopore area.

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Winter session : Rafale disrupts Parliament for the sixth consecutive day

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New Delhi, Dec 18 : Proceedings in both Houses of Parliament were disrupted for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday over various issues, including the Rafale fighter jets deal.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day hours after it met as both opposition and treasury benches created a ruckus over the Rafale deal, prompting admonitions from the Speaker for being unruly and “worse than school kids”.

Following the first adjournment at noon, when the House reassembled, the scene inside the lower House was no different.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan tried to transact the business for the day but was repeatedly interrupted due to the sloganeering.

“It’s not sending a good message outside. I have heard from people from abroad asking what is happening in the Indian Parliament,” she said.

Mahajan said she had received feedback that even school children behaved better than parliamentarians.

But no amount of chiding helped as the Congress, AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members trooped near the Speaker’s podium and started raising slogans against the government.

The Congress demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 36 ready-to-fly Rafale jets deal with France, accusing the government of lying before the Supreme Court on the matter.

The AIADMK members wanted Karnataka to take back its proposal to construct a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekadatu, while the TDP raised several issues related to their demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh.

Both ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress members exchanged heated arguments, with the opposition seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi while the other demanding the same from Congress President Rahul Gandhi for misleading the House and the nation on the defence deal.

Amid sloganeering, Minister of State for Corporate Affairs C.P. Chowdary introduced the National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill 2018.

As the din continued, Mahajan urged the members to go back to their seats and allow the House to function smoothly.

“Parliament is for debate and discussion, but this is not the way. This session is very important and we all have to face elections next year. The government is ready for discussion.

“We have a responsibility. We have to maintain the standard of Parliament,” she said.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that opposition was ready for discussion and urged the government to accept the demand for JPC probe into the Rafale deal.

“We respect democracy. But the Prime Minister is silent. We are demanding a JPC probe into the Rafale deal. The deal was discussed at length during the No-Confidence Motion.

“Accept the probe for smooth functioning of the House,” he said.

To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government was ready for discussion on any issue but the JPC probe.

“The need for JPC doesn’t arise as the Supreme Court in its verdict has made it clear that a probe is not needed,” he said.

As the din continued, Mahajan adjourned the House for the day.

Earlier, when the House met, the Congress, AIADMK and the TDP raised their respective issues.

Amid the din, Mahajan had to adjourn the House initially till noon.

The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned for the day minutes after it met in the post-lunch session amid ruckus by both opposition and treasury benches.

As soon as the House met, Congress member Anand Sharma raised a point of order and referred to a remark made by Minister of State (MoS) for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel in the morning with respect to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Sharma said Goel — who had sought an apology from Gandhi for allegedly making false allegations against the government on the Rafale deal — had violated the rules as the Congress chief was not a member of the Rajya Sabha.

He demanded to know as to “on what basis” Goel made such a remark.

This led to noisy exchanges between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Paty (BJP) members, who were on their feet.

In the meantime, the AIADMK members again trooped to the podium with placards.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the House for the day amid the ruckus.

Earlier in the day, as the upper House met, members from Tamil Nadu-based parties — AIADMK and DMK — came near the podium holding placards and raising slogans. They were protesting against a proposed dam on the Cauvery river.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the most important issue was the breach of privilege of the House by the government on the Rafale deal.

Chairman Naidu said that he was “examining” the breach of privilege notices given by the opposition and would soon take a decision.

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Was not a PM afraid to speak to press: Manmohan Singh

A set of five volumes, “Changing India” details his life as an economist as well as his 10-year period at the helm of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

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New Delhi, Dec 18 : In an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is yet to hold a press conference, his predecessor and Congress veteran Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said as a Prime Minister, “he was never afraid of speaking to the press”.

Speaking at the launch of his book “Changing India”, the former Prime Minister also asserted that India was destined to become a major economic global power.

A set of five volumes, “Changing India” details his life as an economist as well as his 10-year period at the helm of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

“I was not the Prime Minister who was afraid of talking to the press. I met the press regularly, and on every foreign trip that I undertook, I had a press conference on return.

“There are large number of those press conferences which have been described in the book,” he said at the event.

“People say I was a silent Prime Minister, but these volumes will speak for themselves. I don’t want to boast about my achievements as a Prime Minister, but the events that took place are well described in these volumes,” he said.

His remarks follow that of Congress President Rahul Gandhi ridiculing Modi for not holding a press conference ever since becoming the Prime Minister in 2014.

Talking about future of the country, Manmohan Singh said despite all the hiccups, India was destined to become a major global powerhouse.

“The emergence of India as a major global power is one such idea whose time has come and no power on earth can stop such an idea,” said Singh quoting Victor Hugo, whom he had quoted as the then Finance Minister during his historic 1991 budget speech.

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