Transparency watchdog Central Information Commission (CIC) has given its first split decision on whether an accused can seek information on the reasons for his or her prosecution sanctions.
Two information commissioners, former bureaucrats AN Tiwari and Satyananda Mishra, said the information could not be provided under the Right to Information Act, whereas the third commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, an RTI activist before he joined the commission, said it could be provided.
RTI applicant Seetharamaih showed records of conversation between customs officials and the Central Bureau of Investigation for initiating proceedings against his son for alleged corruption practices.
The Directorate of Customs and Taxation denied the information on the ground that it was the property of the trial court, which can provide the information as per relevant criminal laws. Not satisfied, Seetharamaih appealed before the CIC.
The two commissioners upheld the decision of the directorate, saying that the RTI act was aimed at exposing corruption and not aiding it. They also said the information about the prosecution sanction could be given if large public interest was involved.
"In this particular case, only private interest is involved as the accused is the son of the RTI applicant," the CIC order said.
Gandhi had a different take. Not providing information would breach of the fundamental right of the citizen, he said.
He said the RTI law overrides the provisions on providing information in any other law and, therefore, the claim that the information can be provided under criminal laws was not tenable.
Gandhi was also of the view that providing information would not impede the investigation as in the present case it was over and trial has already started.
Moreover, prosecuting agency CBI has failed to give reasons on how disclosing information would impede the trial.