Bring co-operative sector under RTI: HC recommends to Centre

The suggestion is significant, since cooperative banks at present cannot be compelled to reveal any information, as they are not "local or public authorities".

Division bench of Justices J P Deodhar and A B Chaudhary were dealing with the question whether Agricultural Market Produce Committees are covered by the information Act.
A single judge of the High Court had ruled early this year that APMC must reveal information under RTI. APMC of Wardha, in Vidarbha, had filed appeal against this ruling.

APMC's lawyer said that it was not a "public authority" under the RTI Act, 2005.
The lawyer relied on a judgement in the case of Punjabrao Deshmukh Cooperative Bank, where another bench had held that cooperative banks were not a public authority.
Same logic should be extended to APMC, he said.

However, the division bench noted in the ruling last week that APMC is constituted by the government itself, under APMC Act (unlike a cooperative bank), so it was certainly a public authority, and must reveal information sought under RTI.

"Before parting with the judgement, looking at the increase in number of scams in the co-operative credit societies and banks due to frauds by the persons within the society or the bank causing severe losses to the poor would be far better to cover all the co-operative credit societies/banks etc. under the RTI Act," the court noted.
"We recommend accordingly to the Central Government," the bench said, directing that copy of the judgement be sent to the union law ministry.

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