CPIOs can’t illegally obstruct information sought, to provide information under severability clause if required

Central information Commission: Commission recently heard an appeal from RTI applicant who sought information about the number of complaints received by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, copy of inquiry proceedings in those complaints, date-wise decisions of cases where the accused persons were found guilty and the reliefs they were granted.

The CPIO replied to him that the information sought by him could not be furnished as it was exempted from being disclosed under Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act invading the privacy of the individuals involved. Upset with the answer of the CPIO, CIC observed that the exemption pleaded by NCPCR is not at all convincing as privacy exemption can be used to refuse only to give information about the name of the child and not to refuse the entire information en bloc. The NCPCR has hired services of a consultant and adviser, who instead of guiding the CPIO properly to disclose the information, misguided him to deny the entire information.

CIC came down upon the authorities saying that the two experienced seniors did not even provide reasons to justify denial as they failed to perform their duty by not providing information severing the name of the children from the rest of the information under Section 10(1) RTI Act. Also, the Commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu directed Mr. G. Suresh, PIO as well as the Senior Consultant and Advisor treating them as “deemed PIOs” to show-cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed upon each of them, for illegal obstruction of information.

It finally directed the respondent authority to provide information regarding cases pending for over two years pertaining to Bihar Circle and details of disposal of cases where accused were found guilty, after removing names and personal details of children within next 15 days. [Ajit Kumar Singh v. PIO, National Commission for Protection of Child Right, 2017 SCC OnLine CIC 1505, decided on 20.09.2017]

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