Information regarding grant of permission for prosecution by CBI to third party employees of Bank - CIC: all determinations about disclosure of any information relating to an ongoing prosecution should be through the agency of the Trial Court
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 17.1.2012 filed by the Appellant, seeking information and copies of correspondence / records regarding grant / non grant of permission for prosecution by the CBI of two third party employees of the Respondent Bank. The CPIO responded on 3.2.2012 and denied the information under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act. Not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO, the Appellant filed an appeal to the First Appellate Authority on 8.3.2012. In his order dated 23.4.2012, the FAA upheld the CPIO’s reply. The Appellant approached the CIC in second appeal on 27.6.2012.
2. We heard the submissions of the Appellant and the Respondents. The Appellant stated that investigation in the matter had been completed and the case is now pending before a CBI court. The Respondents submitted that since the information sought was concerning third parties, they were unable to provide it to the Appellant. In this connection they cited the judgment dated 3.10.2012 of the Supreme Court in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commissioner and Ors. The Appellant, on the other hand, submitted that the two bank employees in question are implicated in a case before the CBI court, in which the Appellant is also a party. Therefore, he is entitled to receive the information sought by him.
3. In the above context, we note that the information sought, besides being information concerning third parties, also relates to sanction of prosecution in a case before a CBI court. Disclosure of similar information regarding sanction for prosecution in a CBI case was considered by a three member Bench of the Commission in 2010 on File No. CIC/AT/A/2008/01238. In its decision dated 7.6.2010, arrived at with majority of two to one, the Commission had denied disclosure of information in that case. The factors taken into account by the Commission in arriving at its above decision are germane to the case before us also. The Commission had noted:
“In our view, an information which is evidence or is related to evidence in an ongoing prosecution comes under the control of the Trial Court within the meaning of Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act, which states as follows: “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to.....” “The word “under the control of” implies that the information, regardless of which public authority holds it, is under the control of a specific public authority on whose orders alone it can be produced in a given proceeding. In the present case, the material sought by the appellant is undoubtedly related to an ongoing court proceeding and hence it can be rightly said to be under the control of the Trial Court, who alone can decide how the information is to be dispensed. Any action under the RTI Act or any other Act for disclosure of that information to the very party who is arraigned before the Trial Court or to anyone representing that party, would have the effect of interfering with the discretion of the Court, thereby impeding an extant prosecution proceeding.”
4. In the above context, the Commission had also noted the following observations of the Delhi High Court in S. M. Lamba vs. S. C. Gupta and Anr.: “This court would like to observe that under the code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 once the stage of an order framing charges have been crossed, it would be open to the accused to make an appropriate application before the learned trial court to summon the above documents in accordance with the law.”
5. Taking into account the above, the Commission had stated, “It is, therefore, important that all determinations about disclosure of any information relating to an ongoing prosecution should be through the agency of the Trial Court and not otherwise.”
6. In view of the foregoing, we would not interfere with the decision of the Respondents to deny information in this case.
7. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
8. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri G S Mehta v. Union Bank of India in File No. CIC/VS/A/2012/000689/SH