The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that the India International Centre (IIC) cannot exempt itself from sharing information under the Right to Information Act, as "it is not a non-government body".
The CIC directed the institution to appoint a central public information officer and the first appellate authority in compliance with the provisions of the RTI Act.
"Considered one of the country's premier cultural institutions, the India International Centre is a non-government institution widely regarded as …." is how the IIC describes itself on its official website.
The CIC ruling came on the plea of two persons - Amit Takyar and Amrit Mehta - who had sought information from the IIC under the RTI Act. The central information body observed that the IIC received a sizeable land against the deposit of Rs 1,68,840 in 1960 on a perpetual lease and it has been paying a comparatively nominal lease of about Rs 8,442 per month to the Central government for the past 52 years.
"The reason that IIC was given land at a concessional rate prompted me to seek information under the RTI act," Takyar said. The CIC had clubbed Takyar's plea with that of Mehta.
During the hearing, the IIC claimed that it is a "membership organisation and does not receive funds or grants from the Centre or a state government".
The Commission maintained that in order to determine whether the Central government has substantially financed the IIC, it was essential to ascertain whether the lease money paid by the institution was proportionate or near proportionate to the actual value of the land leased to it.
The Commission had given the IIC six weeks time to comply with its order, which was delivered on February 6.
However, the IIC management is in no mood to relent. Sources said it might file a writ against the CIC order.
Ravinder Datta, IIC secretary, said: "We will take appropriate legal steps." He refused to elaborate.