Under which authority, has the RAW and NTRO been setup?
The appellant filed two applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) seeking to know about the authority under which the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) had been setup. He also wanted to know about the mechanism in place for ensuring the accountability of both these organizations including the financial auditing of both these organizations. The Public Information Officer (PIO), PMO transferred these applications under section 6(3) to his counterparts in the respective organizations. As both these organizations have been included in the Second Schedule of the RTI Act, no information was provided to the appellant. After the direction of First Appellate Authority (FAA), PMO, the PIO informed him that the relevant Government order by which the RAW had been set up could not be disclosed in terms of the provisions of 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 argued that it was not right on the part of the PIO to transfer the RTI applications and desired that the information should be made available by the PMO itself.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the information sought by the appellant, pre dates the establishment of both these organizations and so unless the records relating to the establishment of these organizations have been transferred in totality to the respective organizations, there was no need to transfer the RTI applications to those organizations. The CIC held that any decision to disclose the desired information would depend on the nature of the information and whether it is covered under any of the exemption provisions. The CIC directed the PIO, PMO to revisit both these cases and to find out if there is any authority of the Government notification, ordinance and enactment under which both these organizations had been established and to disclose the same. In addition the CIC held that if any specific communication/ circular/ OM has even been issued in respect of accountability mechanism for these organizations that too should be disclosed subject to the same exemption provisions and if the PIO would decide not to disclose any information, he must pass a speaking order justifying the nondisclosure in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act.
Citation: Mr. Vinay Kumar Singh v. Prime Minister's Office, National Technical Research Organization, Cabinet Secretariat in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001915 & 1916
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1387
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission