Information regarding the Cabinet meetings for a period of seven years sought under RTI
The appellant sought information in respect of the Cabinet meetings held over a period of seven years. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that providing the information about all the items/ subjects considered in the meetings held during this entire period would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority under section 7(9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and therefore, could not be disclosed. He denied the decisions taken in the meetings under section 8(1)(i) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; stating that they are a part of the Cabinet papers. He had further observed that it was for the sponsoring ministry to decide finally if the Cabinet papers could be disclosed having implemented the Cabinet decision. Regarding the minutes of the meetings he invited the appellant to inspect the minutes register maintained in the Cabinet Secretariat.
During the hearing, the respondent explained that every year, about 400 to 450 items came up for discussion in the Cabinet from various ministries and departments of the government and over a period of seven years, this number would be close to 3000 items. He submitted that collecting and providing this information to the appellant would be an extremely time consuming task and would disproportionately divert the resources of the Cabinet Secretariat. However, he offered that specific information in this regard would be provided if the appellant would identify any particular item or a few of those items.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) agreed with the contentions of the respondent and advised the appellant to be more specific and ask for details of a few of these items so that the PIO can provide such information without putting strain on the resources of the Cabinet Secretariat. The Commission also observed that it is only the sponsoring Ministry or Department which can take a decision as to whether a particular Cabinet decision has been fully implemented or not; the Cabinet Secretariat cannot take such a call and decide about disclosing any Cabinet decision except those which arise out of any proposal of the Cabinet Secretariat itself.
The discussions in the matter point out that there is no mechanism at the level of the cabinet to be regularly updated about what action has been taken regarding a particular decision taken by it.
Citation: Mr. R M V S Anil Kumar v. Cabinet Secretariat in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/001691
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/551
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