For the first time, the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been used to access cabinet papers.
On October 19, the Central Information Commission (CIC) allowed Magsaysay Award winner and activist Arvind Kejriwal to access a copy of the cabinet note on foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retailing. Central Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramaniam asked the Ministry of Commerce to allow Kejriwal to inspect all the relevant files and file notings on the issue.
RTI activists said the CIC's was a landmark decision, as people could now see for themselves how the highest level of government decided on matters of public interest.
The government had been reluctant to disclose the files after Kejriwal submitted an application in February. The central public information officer, Gauri Singh, first told the CIC that there was no file on single-brand retailing. Singh later said the cabinet note on the issue was a secret document and could not be disclosed as it contained other policy issues.
Overruling Singh's objections, the CIC asked her to provide Kejriwal with a copy of the cabinet note relating to the issue.