Am I a whistleblower? Seeking list of whistleblowers from the CVC
The appellant filed complaints with the Secretary Information and Broadcasting (I&B). Later, he filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in which he referred to two complaints and wanted the copies of all correspondence made in regard. He also wanted the list of 937 whistleblowers whose complaints had been processed by the CVC as per the Times of India report and whether his name appeared in the said list. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the RTI Act stating that the correspondence and other documents were related to an ongoing investigation and the disclosure would impede the process of investigation. He also refused to disclose the list of whistleblowers or provide any information in this regard on the ground that according to the scheme under which complaints from whistleblowers were being handled by the CVC and their identities could not be disclosed. Later on, the direction of the First Appellate Authority (FAA) he provided copies of some of the correspondence.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that he should be provided all the information regarding the progress on his complaints so that he could keep himself apprised about the action being taken. He emphasised to get the information about his inclusion in the list of whistleblowers maintained by the CVC. The respondent submitted that the complaints filed by the appellant were under various stages of enquiry and investigation hence no information in this regard could be disclosed lest it would affect the course of investigation. Regarding the list of whistleblowers, the respondent submitted that it is a matter of policy and such information could not be disclosed.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the correspondence made between the CVC and other authorities on the complaints of the appellant should be disclosed unless any investigation has been ordered by any competent authority either under the conduct rules for government servants or under any criminal law. The PIO was directed to provide the copies of all the correspondence made by the CVC with either the Central Government or the Prasar Bharti or any other authority regarding the complaints specifically mentioned by him in his RTI application. Regarding the list of the whistleblowers or the inclusion of appellant in that list, the CIC accepted the contentions of the PIO observing that section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; of the RTI Act specifically exempts such information from disclosure as it would endanger the life of an individual or expose the source of information. The CIC however, directed the PIO to inform the appellant if the CVC has ever considered him as a whistleblower in respect of any of his complaints.
Citation: Mr. Ravindra Parmar v. Central Vigilance Commission in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001349
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1246
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