The Delhi High Court has directed non-government organisation Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) to submit its audited balance sheets from its constitution in 1991 till 2010-2011, as well as the contributions made to it by the Union and the State Governments and its instrumentalities.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher passed the direction on a petition by Shanmuga Patro, challenging a Central Information Commission order of 2010, whereby the Commission had dismissed his petition urging it to declare the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation a public authority under the Right to Information Act, and directed it to provide information sought by him.
Mr. Patro had approached the Commission in 2010, when the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation refused to provide him copies of its constitution, bye-laws, rules and regulations, and the documents showing its organisational structure sought by him
The Foundation had refused to provide the information, saying that it wasn’t a public authority under the Act.
The CIC had also upheld the Foundation’s plea saying that “RGF cannot be said to be a public authority by any stretch of imagination, as the Government contribution (to it) is less than 4 per cent.”
However, the CIC had suggested to the board of trustees of the Foundation to consider and continue to voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on its website, like its constitution, bye-laws, rules and regulations, its annual income and expenditure, and the nature of works undertaken or completed by it.
But the Commission had made it clear that the suggestions would be without any prejudice to its conclusion that RGF wasn’t a public authority under the Act.
The Commissioner had passed the order after going through the audited accounts of the Foundation from its inception to 2008-2009, along with a tabular statement indicating its year-wise overall income, and the component thereof received from the Central Government / State Government or the instrumentalities thereof.
Mr. Patro had sought declaration of the Foundation a public authority, arguing that the formation of RGF was declared by the Union Government through the Budget speech by the Finance Minister, and the Government also created a corpus for running its affairs.
The petitioner also submitted that the Foundation had received substantial funding from the Government, saying that all the funds received by the Foundation belonged to ‘We the people of India’. However, the Foundation had countered it saying that the direct grant of the Government didn’t exceed 4 per cent of the total receipts of the Foundation.
The petition will come up for hearing before Justice Shakdher on November 21.
The NGO was directed to provide information sought by petitioner, challenging a CIC order
RGF had refused to divulge information as Govt. grant didn’t exceed 4 per cent of total receipts.