Using RTI for inspection of sensitive file notings
The appellant was Scientist ‘C’ in the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR). He was removed from service pursuant to the departmental proceedings. He submitted that his dismissal order has been set aside by the Principal Bench of the CAT at New Delhi. He filed an application under the Right to information (RTI) Act requesting for copy of the entire file notings related to his dismissal from service.
During the hearing, the respondent submitted that this matter had been dealt with by the Vigilance Department which contains sensitive notings given by the officials of the Vigilance Department, the Minister of Science and Technology and other dignitaries. He also submitted that the DSIR has filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the order of the CAT and disclosure of requested information at this stage would prejudice the Government’s case.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) perused the records and noted that the files contain sensitive information the disclosure of which is likely to prejudice the Government’s case in the court. The Commission also held that it would not be wise to disclose identity of the officers who made notings in the file. The Commission directed the PIO to give an inspection of records to the appellant in the presence of a senior officer of DSIR for half a day. CIC further ruled that photo copies of documents will not be supplied to the appellant after the inspection.
There is an apparent contradiction in the order of the CIC in respect of disclosure of file by inspection. Either a file should be disclosed or should not be disclosed in case it is exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act. The disclosure in terms of ‘inspection only’, does not appear to be in the right spirit of the Act.
Citation: Mr. Korada Sreenivasa Rao v. Deptt. of Scientific & Industrial Research , in File No.CIC/LS/A/2011/001069, File No.CIC/LS/A/2011/000314
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/569
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission