Information regarding Naval War Room leak case sought under RTI
The appellant sought information related to the Naval War Room leak case through six separate Right to Information (RTI) applications. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some information while in some others refused to disclose any information either on the ground that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had been excluded from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act by the Government of India notification or that the disclosure of the information would impede the process of investigation and prosecution of a criminal case. In some cases, the PIO stated that what had been sought was not information but the opinion.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) found that most of the queries of the appellant in all the cases were in the nature of seeking confirmation or opinion of the PIO rather than seeking any information within the meaning of section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act. The Commission also stated that this is a sensitive matter concerning national security as one of the accused in the case had run away to England from where his extradition was being sought by the CBI. Therefore, until this entire matter is thoroughly investigated and the culprits, if any, are brought to book, records and documents relating to this case should not be ordinarily disclosed. The Commission also observed that the appellant has tried an indirect way for securing some information by demanding confirmation of either documents or assumptions which was not the right manner of seeking information under the RTI Act.
The Commission held that the CBI had been excluded from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act through a notification by the Government of India which was issued in the month of June 2011 but any RTI application filed before this date has to be considered on merit and cannot be dismissed out of hand by citing the above notification. The Commission rejected the appeal stating that the information sought falls within the exemption provisions contained in 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; and of 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.
Citation: Mr. Lt. Col. R Sankaran (Retd.) v. Central Bureau of Investigation in File No.CIC/SM/C/2011/001269, 1270, 1271, 1272, 1273 & CIC/SM/A/2011/002384
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/464
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission