Can copy of statements of witnesses be disclosed under RTI?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking copies of the statements of various individuals recorded by it regarding the disposal of the money defrauded. He also wanted the copy of the report of the Team about the outcome of the case. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information on the ground that the CBI had been included in the second schedule to the RTI Act and that the provisions of the Act no longer applied to it.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant argued that the desired information should be disclosed because it pertained to allegations of corruption and cited the proviso to section 24 of the RTI Act in support of his argument. He also submitted that the investigation was already over and the matter was pending before the trial court. The respondent submitted that the disclosure of the desired information would impede the process of prosecution and that the appellant should seek such information from the trial court instead.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the CBI cannot claim any blanket exemption from the provisions of the RTI Act. The CIC held that although the information pertains to allegations of corruption, it cannot be disclosed because its disclosure has the potential to impede the process of prosecution of the offender. The CIC also ruled that statements recorded by the CBI form part of the case records and once the case is filed before a trial court, the records relating to the case become the property of the trial court and any decision to disclose such records would lie with the trial court and not with the PIO. The Commission rejected the appeal stating that the appellant is free to approach the trial court for getting copies of those records.
Citation: Mr. S Murugesan v. Central Bureau of Investigation in File No. CIC/SM/C/2012/000835
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/994
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission