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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

House can invoke privilege to deny information: CIC

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 01, 2013
First Published: 22:48 IST(1/4/2013) | Last Updated: 23:37 IST(1/4/2013)

The decisions taken by the chairpersons of the two houses of Parliament were protected under Parliamentary privileges and therefore, are not covered under the transparency law the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the Central Information Commission has observed.

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Country’s information watchdog, however, allowed the respective chairpersons to decide whether the information can be disclosed to RTI applicants or not.

The CIC delivered its views while deciding an appeal filed by RTI application Subhash Aggarwal seeking communication between Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on appointment of Lok Sabha secretary general TK Vishwanathan.

The Lok Sabha secretariat had given the letter written by Swaraj to Lok Sabha speaker protesting against his appointment but what the speaker told the leader of opposition was not provided.

The commission said that the Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar should take a call whether the information should be provided or not. The privilege under which the information is denied should enlisted in the communication to the applicant, the CIC order said.

Aggarwal’s request for all communication between the Speaker and Prime Minister in the last three years was also denied on the ground of being privilege information.

The commission, in its order said that it agreed with the contention of Lok Sabha that drawing a parallel between the correspondence made available by the ‘Election Commission of India’ or the ‘National Advisory Council’ and the correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Speaker was not appropriate. Reason being a specific provision under section 8 of the RTI Act regarding breach of privilege of the Parliament or State Legislature, the commission said.

Therefore, the commission said only that information not attracting section 8 of the RTI Act should be provided.


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