Under RTI, can the information related to the investigation be disclosed to the accused?
The appellant was an accused in the Mumbai bomb blast case. He filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking a number of information including the copies of the letter sent by both the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and the Maharashtra Government to the PMO in connection with this case. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under 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 stating that the disclosure of the information would impede the process of prosecution of the offenders. PIO however, provided the copies of a larger number of other documents.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that the prosecution had already closed its case before the court and the disclosure of the information at this stage could not have any adverse effect on the prosecution. The respondent submitted that while the prosecution might have closed its court before the court, the prosecution could not be said to be over until the matter was finally decided by the court of law and they still held that the disclosure of the information might not be in the interest of prosecution of the offenders.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the response of the PIO was based on some input from the appropriate agency as the prosecution was in progress when the original RTI application had been filed. The Commission further ruled that since now the prosecution was complete the PIO should revisit the RTI request and based on whatever input it thinks fit, decide if the copies of the letters received from the ATS and the Maharashtra Government in this case should be disclosed. The further held that if the PIO decides not to disclose the information he must pass a speaking order and inform the appellant suitably.
Citation: Mr. Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui v. Prime Minister’s Office in File No. CIC/SM/A/2011/002951
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/700
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission