The Central Information Commission has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to release investigation reports on allegations against NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal.
The CBI had refused to provide information stating that information sought regarding two cases, which were disposed off, were linked with two more cases pending trial.
“Hence, the information cannot be supplied to you and exemption under section 8 (1)(h) is claimed,” the CBI said.
Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, however, ruled out the application of the exemption clause saying no evidence has been provided on how providing of the information will impede the prosecution of the offenders.
“No claim has been made that any investigation is continuing, and the fact that some banking officers are being prosecuted in two other matters cannot justify refusal to given information relating to Sant Singh Chatwal,” Gandhi said in his order.
The RTI applicant had sought copy of the legal opinions given after discharge of Chatwal in two cases filed against him by the CBI in connection with alleged bank fraud. He also wanted copies of the chargesheet filed against Chatwal. The CBI told the CIC that the chargesheet was a public document.
Gandhi also took objection to the CBI applying section 8 stating that mere existence of the investigation process cannot be a ground for refusal of the information. “The authority withholding information must show satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information would hamper the investigation process,” the order read.
Advising the CBI not to exercise the exemption clauses in a liberal manner and refusing information using the exemption clauses was denial of fundamental rights, the CIC asked the CBI to provide the information by end of this month to the applicant.