Monday 24 October 2016

CIC Asks Centre to Disclose Report of Mudgal Committee on Lobbying

New Delhi

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Centre to disclose confidential file notings related to the constitution of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee which probed alleged lobbying by Walmart in India.

CIC also directed the government to make public the committee's report along with the steps taken by the Centre to prevent possible lobbying in the country by foreign companies.

The one-member committee of former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mudgal was constituted by the UPA government to investigate alleged corruption charges against retail giant Walmart in India.

The Committee had to probe if Walmart undertook activities in India in contravention of any Indian law and any other matter relevant or incidental to the case.

The case came before the CIC on a plea by activist Subhash Agrawal, who had sought the information from the Corporate Affairs Ministry, which had refused to provide it.

"Information needs to be provided under Section 8(2) of RTI Act which mentions providing of information if public interest overweighs the harm protected.

"There is definitely public interest involved in the whole matter where media reports indicate attempt at lobbying by private foreign companies with even those in PMO," Agrawal said in his appeal.

Agreeing with Agrawal, Information Commissioner Yashowardhan Azad directed the ministry to provide the information, along with the file notings, related to the constitution of the committee. He also directed it to provide report of the committee along with the file notings.

The Commissioner directed the ministry to forward the RTI application to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion for its response as regards the details of the steps taken to prevent any lobbying in India by foreign companies.

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