Right to Information
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the CBI to provide a justification for denial of information on the ground that the disclosure might impede an ongoing investigation or the prosecution of an accused and not merely cite the relevant clause in its RTI response.
• The Central Information Commission was established by theCentral Government in 2005.
• It was constituted through anOfficial Gazette Notification under the provisions of theRight to Information Act (2005). Hence, it is not a constitutionalbody.
• The Central Information Commission is a high-poweredindependent body which inter alia looks into the complaints madeto it and decide the appeals.
• It entertains complaints and appealspertaining to offices, financial institutions, public sectorundertakings, etc., under the Central Government and the UnionTerritories.
CIC was hearing the case of an RTI applicant, who had sought to know the status of a preliminary enquiry by the CBI in the MSME Development Institute in Chennai.
CIC has directed the Central Bureau of Investigationto provide a cogent explanation while citing the exemption clause — section 8(1)(h) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act — on how a disclosure of information would adversely affect an investigation or prosecution.
Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act allows a public authority to withhold information, the disclosure of which would impede the process of an investigation or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
The Delhi High Court, in the Bhagat Singh case, had clearly held that merely citing the exemption clause is not enough and a public authority must justify how a disclosure of information would attract the section as disclosure was the rule while withholding information was an exception.
The RTI Act is being subverted and illegally converted into a Right to Denial of Information. Section 8 (1) (h) and Section 8 (1) (h) is being converted into an omnibus exemption which can be used to deny most information. This will be a very unfortunate regression for citizen’s fundamental rights and would greatly curb its power to get accountability and curb corruption. There is a great need for lawyers, judges and RTI practitioners to discuss this denial of fundamental rights which appears to be a constriction of citizen’s fundamental right under Article 19 (1)(a).
PEPPER IT WITH
Composition of the Central Information Commission, State Information Commission, Union Public Service Commission, Finance Commission, Staff Selection Commission