Confidential report of overseas enquiry received by Customs not to be disclosed
The appellant sought information regarding communication made by the Customs Cochin with UK Revenue and Customs for verification of the actual sale value and the shipper in respect of two imported cars. The PIO informed the appellant that no communication was made between Customs, Cochin and U.K. Revenue and Customs. It was further informed that the Customs, Cochin had made a communication with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, New Delhi, who in turn took up the issue with the High Commission of India at London. The PIO refused disclosure of the report received from the High Commission of India through the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, New Delhi under Section 8 (1) (a) & (f) of the RTI Act. On appeal, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) observed that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is an agency which falls within the exempted category listed under section 24 of the RTI Act and any communication received from the agency prima facie is entitled to confidentiality. Moreover, the communication from the High Commission of India is expressly marked ‘Secret’ and High Commission of India’s claim for secrecy has been borne out by the U.K. Revenue and Customs plea for restrictions on further disclosure of their report. The FAA upheld the decision of the PIO.
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The appellant quoted similar instance when a copy of the communication received from the High Commission of India in London addressed to the Directorate of Revenue and intelligence were provided to him. On being questioned by the Commission, the appellant admitted that in the earlier instance there was no claim of confidentiality, as is the case in the present matter. The Commission dismissed the appeal holding that since the information has been received in confidence from a foreign Government, section 8(1)(a) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence; & 8(1)(f) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information received in confidence from foreign Government; are attracted.
Citation: Shri P.A. Augustin v. the Commissioner of Customs in file no. CIC/SS/A/2011/001604
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/76
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