Central Information Commission


Central Information Commission: In a second appeal filed by the appellant being dissatisfied and aggrieved by the reply furnished by the CPIO, PMO, the Chief Information Commissioner has directed the PMO (‘Respondent’) to revisit the instant Right to Information (‘RTI’) application considering the written submission of the appellant and furnish a revised reply upon exploring the possibility in terms of the RTI Act, 2005 of dissemination of information by redacting information which is exempted from disclosure, as provided by the Act. Further, it directed the respondent to furnish the revised reply within four weeks of receipt of this order and to submit a compliance report of these directions before the commission by 15.12.2022.

The appellant filed the RTI application seeking information that, the then Minister of External Affairs, Pranab Mukherjee submitted a group of ministers report (2008) to the Prime Minister on pay, pension and allowances of Armed Forces, for the approval of the PM, as per information provided by Ministry of Defence(‘MoD’), and required the CPIO to furnish a copy of the said approval of the PM as well as photocopies of the file notings, Office Memorandum, Identity Note or any other material as defined in Section 2(f) and (i) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, that preceded the approval of the PM.

Further, having not received any information from the CPIO, the appellant filed a first appeal, wherein, the Director (First appellate Authority), PMO directed the CPIO to provide a response to the appellant within 25 working days.

In compliance with the Director’s order, the CPIO gave the reply that, “the information sought by the appellant is highly sensitive and the disclosure of the said information would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic or economic interests of the State. Therefore, its disclosure is exempted under provisions of Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, 2005

The appellant submitted that the group of ministers report has already been de-classified and furnished by the MoD, and most of the recommendations by the said report have been published in part in subsequent official reports and correspondence is in the public domain. Further, the denial of file noting of the PMO, which preceded approval of the PM for the implementation of the recommendations is an excessive step aimed at denying information that would neither affect the national security nor violate sovereignty, since the report has been quoted at length in the Cabinet Secretary Reports of 2009 and 2012.

Thus, the Commission directed the respondent to revisit the instant RTI application considering the written submission of the appellant and furnish a revised reply.

[S Y Savur v. Public Information Officer, PMO, 2022 SCC OnLine CIC 507, decided on 27-10-2022]

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