Correspondence between police and DoT - Merely because inspection of the said documents was granted to the petitioner it does not take away the right of the respondents to hold that same is secret and contains classified information
Information sought:- The applicant has sought the following information:-
3.3.1 to 3.3.16- Certified copies of relevant pages as mentioned in the application. 3.3.17-Certified copies of 351/c of File no. DDG/TERM/MBI/RTI/84 (Vol.III). 3.3.18-Certified copies of 40/c of file No. DDG/TERM/MBI/CV/General/64 in reference to point.
Grounds for the Second Appeal: The CPIO has not provided the desired information.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Nitin Sudhakar Pradhan through VC; Respondent: Mr. Hari Narayan CPIO
The appellant stated that he pressing for the documents sought under para 3.3.17 and 3.3.18. He further stated that both the information sought by him have been denied by the respondent stating that they relate to third party whereas he has already inspected the said document on 18/07/2013. The CPIO stated that as regards the information sought under para 3.3.17 the same was provided to another person in response to his RTI application and if the appellant makes a similar request the information will be supplied to him. He further submitted that the document sought under para 3.3.18 has been provided by a security agency and they had carried out the process as outlined under section 11 of the RTI Act but the agency has objected to the disclosure claiming confidentiality and exemption under 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. The appellant contested stating that the document sought is a copy of a letter written by the police authorities to the respondent stating that a large number of customers have obtained mobile connection based on fake documents. He claimed that the disclosure of the information would serve larger public purpose.
As regards the appellant’s contention that he is entitled to the information as he has already inspected the documents, it is seen that the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in its decision dated 28/07/2010 (W.P. No. 3871 of 2010) has held as under:-
“2. ……………………..It is not in dispute that the information sought by the petitioners pertains to the extension programme of runway in question. Merely because inspection of the said documents was granted to the petitioner it does not take away the right of the respondents to hold that same is secret and contains classified information and therefore, in view of the provisions of 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; of Right to Information Act, 2005, the authorities in our view, are justified in rejecting the application…………..”
As regards the information sought under para 3.3.18, the Commission finds that no error has been committed by the respondent in taking recourse to Section 11 of the RTI Act. The information has come to the knowledge of the respondent as a result of disclosure by the police who gave that information in confidence and complete faith that the secrecy of the information shall be maintained. Judicial pronouncements have held that in achieving the objective of transparency and accountability under the RTI Act, other equally important public interests including preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information are not to be ignored or sacrificed. In the facts and circumstances of this case, we are of the view that the disclosure of information has no discernable element of larger public interest. It being so, there is no need to interfere with the respondent’s decision. The matter is closed.
Citation: Mr. Nitin Sudhakar Pradhan v. Department of Telecommunications in File No. CIC/BS/A/2014/000377/6837