Are the Unit Run CSD Canteens within the scope of the RTI Act?




The appellant prayed before the CIC that the Unit Run CSD Canteen may be declared as a public authority under the RTI Act, 2005. The respondent submitted that Unit Run Canteens (URCs) were established with the purpose of providing consumable stores to the Defence personnel at a price cheaper than the market as a welfare measure. They are run by the funds of the formation/unit which are Regimental funds created through contributions from the defence personnel as per statutory rules provided in service regulations. The Respondent categorically stated that URCs are in no way funded by the Government or from the Consolidated Fund of India. The URCs pay rent and allied charge at prescribed rates for utilisation of premises and other services. The URCs are managed through a Standard Operating Procedure formulated by the URC management Committee. The CIC observed that the URC is not a creature of statute. The URCs are run by Regimental Funds which has been held by the Courts to be non-public fund. The Government does not exercise any direct or indirect control over it. The three-fold test of Creation, Finance and Control of an organization as outlined in the definition clause of Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act is not established.




Comments




In the case of R R Pillai, the Apex Court had held that URCs are purely private ventures and their employees are at no stretch of imagination employees of the Government or CSD. There is no statutory obligation on the part of the Central Government to provide canteen services to its employees. The profit generated from URCs are not credited to the consolidated fund but are distributed to the non-public funds which are used by the units for the welfare of the troops.




Citation: Shri Daya Shankar Shukla and others v. Ministry of Defence in F. No.CIC/LS/A/2012/000665 CIC/LS/A/2013/001914 CIC/RM/A/2013/001287 Date of Order : 25.05.2016, 15.03.2017




Dr. Anuradha Verma (dranuradhaverma@yahoo.co.in) is the co- author of the books: RIGHT TO INFORMATION – LAW AND PRACTICE and PIO’s guide to RTI. Her other articles can be read at the website of RTI Foundation of India - Right to Information Act 2005- RTI Foundation of India