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Some landmark CIC judgements
Chetan Chauhan
January 01, 2007
First Published: 21:12 IST(1/1/2007)
Last Updated: 21:12 IST(1/1/2007)

RTI : some important cases.

File notings: On January 31, the CIC ruled that as per the existing provisions of RTI Act, a citizen has the right to seek information contained in ‘file notings’ unless the same relates to matters covered under Section 8 of the Act. This section lists national security and such grounds that can exempt a piece of information from disclosure. The CIC didn’t categorise the information contained in file notings and therefore, all types of information could be sought.

UPSC case: On November 13, the CIC asked Union Public Service Commission to provide scores to civil service aspirants subject-wise. CIC also recommended that the model answer sheets should also be disclosed from time to time. The commission rejected the UPSC’s contention that the information was secret and revealing it could compromise fairness of the examination system.

DISCOM case: The CIC’s decided in December that power companies are "public authorities" and therefore are covered under the purview of the Right to Information Act. As per the CIC order, the power companies are required to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs) by February 1. They are also required to inform the public by putting up the details of the RTI infrastructure on their websites. For now though, the discoms are "studying the CIC order" and are in no hurry to implement it.

Gujarat letters: On the controversial issue of communication between former President KR Naryanan and former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, the CIC asked the government to provide the communication in a sealed cover to it for examination whether it would be in public interest to disclose information or not. For the first time, the commission sought letters between country’s top executive heads for examination as per the RTI Act.

CBSE case: The CIC in December ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education to give a Delhi student question-wise marks awarded to her in the Class X science and technology paper in 2005. CBSE had objected saying there were no provisions in the examination by-laws of the board to show the answer-script to candidates.

Officials Secrets Act has no meaning now: The babus labelling file as ‘confidential’ could not be an excuse for denying information sought under the Right to Information Act. CIC Wajahat Habibullah observed that withholding the information either on the ground that the information is classified as "confidential" under Officials Secrets Act or under section 8 (2) of RTI would be wrong interpretation of the law.

He said the public authority could withhold the information that comes under the ambit of section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. He further added that the public authority could label any information as "confidential" per section 8 (1) and not the Official Secrets Act - the normal practices in government offices. Thus, the information labelled as "confidential" under the Officials Secrets Act, 1923 would not stand under the new observation.

First hearing using video-conferencing: In May, the CIC for the first time conducted hearing through video-conferencing in a case where penalty provisions were to be invoked on an official based in Raipur. The official through video-conferencing presented his case before the commission.


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