Inspection of records related to Bhopal Gas Disaster and boycott of the Olympics was sought
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking inspection of all files and records related to Bhopal Gas Disaster and the boycott of the Olympics in London which had been sponsored by Dow Chemical. The Public Information Officer (PIO) observed that the desired information was too vast and voluminous and it would disproportionately divert their resources if they had to provide access to this information in the form in which it had been sought. Later, he offered her to inspect some files relating to the boycott of Olympics but denied some parts seeking exemption 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.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that the people had a right to know about what had transpired on these issues and it would be in public interest. The respondent submitted that the period for which the information had been sought was too long and collecting unspecified records and documents spread over more than 25 years would be a time consuming task.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the PMO is not the nodal Ministry for the Bhopal Gas Disaster; it is the Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals that is the nodal Ministry. Therefore, the number of files and records available in the PMO on the subject of Bhopal Gas Disaster may not be very large. The CIC directed the PIO to make an assessment of the total number of files and records relating to it that might be there in the PMO. If such documents were contained in a few files, the PIO was directed to invite the appellant to inspect the same. However, if the files run into several dozen or into thousands of pages then the PIO should ask the appellant to specify the records that she would like to inspect.
Citation: Mrs. Hazra Bee v Prime Minister’s Office in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001363
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1110
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