Information cannot be denied on grounds of pending arbitration: CIC
An applicant had filed some applications with the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), Delhi seeking to get the details of the expenditures that were being inquired by the authorities.
The Central Public Information Officer of MTNL declined to provide the demanded information citing exemption 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 which exempts such information from mandatory disclosure that could impede the process of investigation. As the matter reached the Central Information Commission, it held in its order that the RTI Act doesn’t provide any exemption from disclosure for sub-judice matters and hence information should not be denied merely on the grounds of pendency of an arbitration proceeding or a litigation.
The CIC contended that the only exemption can be in those sub-judice matters, where a court or a tribunal would have expressly forbidden the information or where such disclosure might constitute contempt of court. The CIC passed the order stating that the CPIO should allow the appellant to inspect the requested documents within 45 days.