Information regarding appointment of Secretary to the RAW sought under RTI
The appellant filed an application under Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Cabinet Secretariat seeking copies of all the records and documents in respect of appointment of a person as Secretary to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC) which happened on 29 February 2012, the respondents had produced the orders of the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In the said order it was observed that the desired information did not relate to the exempted organisation but to the manner in which the appointment was made to that organisation by the competent authority. The Commission accepted the contentions of the FAA and directed the PIO to take appropriate decision at the earliest and communicate to the appellant. The appellant filed a complaint with the Commission complaining that their directions have not been complied with.
During the second hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondents pointed out that this was not exactly what the FAA had concluded. She had observed that the desired information was not held by their Division and that the application be transferred to the appropriate Division. The respondents further submitted that the PIO of the Cabinet Secretariat had dutifully transferred the RTI application to the PIO of the RAW who, in turn, had intimated the appellant that their organization being included in the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act, no information could be disclosed. The CIC observed that the appointments under the Central Government are made with the approval of the competent authority and appointment of the said person as Secretary to RAW has been made with the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). This appointment cannot be said to have been made by the RAW and the information in respect of this appointment cannot be withheld merely because it is about an appointment made to the RAW. The authority which had processed the appointment as Secretary RAW owes it under the Right to Information Act to disclose the information relating to that appointment subject to the exemption provisions contained in the Right to Information Act. The respondents argued that it was possible that while processing the appointment of the said person as Secretary to the RAW, various inputs might have been obtained from the RAW itself, and that such inputs could not be disclosed.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the PIO of the Cabinet Secretariat to provide the copies of all the desired records and documents in respect of appointment as Secretary to the RAW but no details about his appointment to the RAW which had been made by the RAW itself are to be disclosed. In case, such information is not held in the Cabinet Secretariat, the PIO should transfer the RTI application to the appropriate public authority who, in turn, will provide the same information to the appellant.
This order has been challenged in the High Court and has not been implemented.
Citation: Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. Cabinet Secretariat in File No.CIC/SM/C/2011/001564