Is the information regarding the Arms Policy 2010 liable to be disclosed under RTI?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking copy of file where Government policy for arms license 2010 was approved in 2010 with the copies of all letters received from State Governments after issue of Arms Policy in 2010. The appellant also asked as to which State Government’s employee have issued the same arms policy under their own signature and if yes under which rule. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under 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 the RTI Act. With respect to the information as to which State Government’s employee has issued the same arms policy under their own signature, the PIO stated that the information is not available.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Commission at the outset observed that the PIO and the FAA/ MHA have passed cryptic, non-speaking orders. It has time and again been emphasized by the Commission that whenever a request for information is declined under any of the provisions of the RTI Act, reasons have to be provided for the same to justify denial of information. The respondent submitted that the file notings dealt with Policy and has sensitive information based on which the Government of India has come to the conclusion that the Policy of issue of all India arms license has to be restricted. The appellant stated that he should be provided information that he has requested in the aforementioned RTI application since none of the exemptions provisions are applicable and he also wanted to know the basis on which the executive instructions have been issued by the respondent.
View of CIC
The Commission directed the PIO to provide a copy of the file notings in which the Arms Policy 2010 has been issued after applying the provisions of section 10 of the RTI Act and severing those portions of the note sheet which he considers detrimental to the security of the State. The Commission observed that the appellant has merely requested copies of letters received from State Governments on the Arms Policy, which could be provided as it is not a third party information which would harm the competitive position of the third party. The Commission further directed the PIO to provide copies of letters received from the State Governments.
Citation: Mr J.K. Sharma v. Ministry of Home Affairs in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/001266
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/765
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