Construction Industry Development Council is “public authority” under RTI Act

Central Information Commission (CIC): While rejecting the contention of Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) that it does not fall within the purview of RTI Act as it is a ‘Society’ registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, CIC held that CIDC is “public authority” under Section 2 (h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and hence, answerable to the citizens of India under the Act. The order of the Commission came upon a complaint filed by an RTI activist who sought information under the Act from CIDC about file-notings/correspondence/documents, etc., regarding establishing of CIDC by Planning Commission. Before Commission, CIDC submitted that it is a ‘Society’ registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 formed by various constituents of construction industry primarily comprising construction companies and industry associations as per the order of the Planning Commission. It was further started that it started functioning with a corpus of Rs.3 crores contributed by member construction companies and it is not substantially financed by the Government. It was also submitted that CIDC is now self-sufficient and independent of any government funding and hence cannot be termed as “public authority” under the Act. After perusal of the material on record and hearing both the parties, CIC observed that CIDC owes its origin to the office order of the Planning Commission of the Government of India thereby fulfilling the condition of the Section 2 (h)(d) of the RTI Act. Commission further observed that without the financial aid of the Planning Commission, the CIDC was a loss incurring entity, struggling to exist and but for the financial aid received from the Government of India and its sources, it could not have sustained. Also, the Planning Commission continues to be a permanent member of the CIDC, with total exemptions regarding entrance and/or annual subscriptions. While concluding the discussion, Commission noted that, “the role of the Government is evidently deep and pervasive in the respondent organization (CIDC) right from its inception to funding, control and operations. Thus, we are of the considered opinion that the CIDC is substantially financed by the Central Government and is a fit organisation to be defined as ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.” Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. S.N. Murthy, 2015 SCC OnLine CIC 2126, decided on 25.06.2015

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