Can entire records pertaining to vigilance cases be given a blanket exemption under section 8(1)(h)?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in which he referred to two CBI cases and requested for the copies of the entire file held in the CVC including the file noting and the correspondence made with the Ministry of Railways and the CBI. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information on the ground that the disclosure of the information would impede the process of investigation. He invoked the exemption provisions contained in 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.
During the hearing the before Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant pointed out that the PIO could not have denied the information by a summary order. Any such denial would have to be properly justified through a reasoned order. The appellant also submitted that the entire information sought might not come under the said exemption provision and the PIO should have applied his mind to segregate those records which might not fall under the exemption provision.
View of CIC
The Commission agreed with the arguments of the appellant and noted that the order of the PIO was not adequately reasoned. The CIC held that the matter had reached a trial court for prosecution and the denial of the desired information should be properly justified through a speaking and reasoned order. The CIC also ruled that if it was found that some of the records contained in these files could otherwise be disclosed without impeding the prosecution before the trial court, those records should be disclosed. The CIC directed the PIO to revisit the records and find out which of those could be disclosed without impeding the prosecution under way and provide the copies of those. If the PIO decided not to disclose full or part of the desired information then he have to pass a speaking and reasoned order to justify his denial.
Citation: Mr. P K Singhi v. Central Vigilance Commission in File No. CIC/SM/A/2013/000242
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1443
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