Saturday, August 05, 2017

'Payout details may infringe on privacy of Chennai Silks'

Times of India: Chennai: Saturday, August 05, 2017.
What was the insurance paid to The Chennai Silks after a fire gutted the company's T Nagar showroom? That is something that many people in the city have wondered. But The New India Assurance Company Ltd (NIA), the insurer of Chennai Silks, says providing this information would infringe upon the firm's privacy.
NIA which is a Government of India-owned firm, said so while replying to an RTI application filed by a T Nagar resident.
B Kannan, a resident of Rangan street in T Nagar, sought to know if Chennai Silks had a fire insurance policy issued. "...whether compliance with respect to fire safety norms for the (T Nagar) building was insisted upon and obtained, before issue of policy," asks Kannan's application dated June 21. The queries also sought details on the documents submitted by The Chennai Silks to obtain the policy.
The central public information officer for NIA, Gomathi Sharma, in her response to Kannan dated July 27 said, "As M/s Chennai Silks, Chennai has raised objection in providing the information. We are not in a position to furnish the information to you," and cited the Rule 8(1) sub-clause (j) to deny the information.
"Why was Chennai Silks informed of my petition? The details sought are not of a personal nature, doesn't intrude into privacy and matters to larger public, especially after the fire accident," Kannan said.
RTI activists said it suggests the company must have overlooked norms to issue a policy. V Lakshmi Narayanan, who researches aspects of RTI Act, said NIA's reply suggests the company is looking to cover up a mistake. "This response is peculiar especially as the CMDA and fire department have many times submitted before the Madras high court that T Nagar buildings violate approved plan," he said. RTI activist V Gopalakrishnan said since NIA would have paid the insurance sum out of a public fund, as it is state-owned, Kannan had every right as a taxpayer to seek and receive details.
Attempts to contact representatives of NIA's Coimbatore Regional Office failed.