The State Information Commission (SIC), Haryana, has ruled that Jind Co-operative Sugar Mills Limited, Jind; Panipat Co-operative Sugar Mill, Panipat, and Haryana Co-operative Sugar Mill Limited, Rohtak, come under the ambit of Right to Information Act as they are substantially funded as well as controlled by the state government.
While deciding four appeals, the bench headed by Naresh Gulati, state chief information commissioner; Hemant Attri, state information commissioner, and Sajjan Singh, state information commissioner, ruled on June 30 that mills do not receive any direct financial support in the form of grants but they have received “indirect support in the form of share capital to the extent of over 90% of the total share capital” from the state government for conduct of its business.
The mills “have in fact heavily dependent on financial support made available in the form of equity participation”, says the judgment, which also read that “withdrawal of this financial assistance would put the cooperative sugar mills in a situation where they would struggle to exist”.
On the issue of control of state, the SIC observed that the by-laws of the Panipat Cooperative Sugar Mills provide that “board of directors shall consist of 15 directors out of which 5 shall be the government nominees. In case of Cooperative Sugar Mills, Jind and Rohtak, the by-laws provide for nomination of three government nominees on the board comprising 12 directors”.
The bench also pointed out that the section 30 of the Haryana Cooperative Societies Act, 1984, which governs these mills, provides that “where the government have subscribed to the share capital of an apex cooperative society or co-operative sugar mill to the extent of ? 10 lakh or more the government may, notwithstanding anything contained in the by-laws of the society, appoint one of the members nominated under Section 29 as chairman of the committee of such society. The three sugar mills in question have deputy commissioner of the district as chairman of the sugar mills and he is an appointee of the state government.
The bench also said, “It is evident that the staff appointed in the sugar mills are granted government pay scales and allowances as sanctioned by the Haryana State Federation of Co-operative Sugar Mills, Panchkula, with the consent of the Haryana Bureau of Public Enterprises, a body functioning under the control of state government.”