All documents related to the RTI process are disclosable
In a clear cut order, CIC Wajahat Habibullah has ruled that all documents (including attachments) involved in the RTI process are disclosable.
The applicant had asked CIC for copies of all documents related to 2 Second Appeals decide by the CIC - Arun Jaitley v/s Doordarshan and Veena Sikri v/s DoPT. The PIO of CIC invoked Sec 11 (third party) clause and sent notices seeking "no objection" from several third parties invloved (including the CPIO's of the Public Authorities).
The applicant strongly argued in her Second Appeal:
The information sought by the complainant under part I of said application , were not such as could be said to be the information or records treated as confidential by the third party. The respondent could have invoked sec 11 only if the information sought was related to the third party and the same has been treated as confidential by that third party not otherwise. The information sought by the complainant under part I of the said application was public document which any person can access. If it being not so, than none of the file of appeal or complaint can be accessed by any person. Or even the appeal /complaint order could not be uploaded on the web site as each such order contain factual information related to the parties in that complaint/appeals. Since the information sought by the complainant can not be said to be treated as confidential by the third party and were factually public documents hence invoking of sec 11 was unwarranted and uncalled
However appellant has raised a pertinent issue in questioning the need for reference to the third party u/.s 11 (1) That Section specifically refers to information “which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party1” It must be accepted as a measure of policy in papers received by this Commission that none of the information so received in an organisation committed to transparency can be treated as confidential unless specifically marked as such. This is based on the principle that access to information is the rule and exemptions only the exception. It is understood that CPIO Shri Subramanian has made a reference as a measure of abundant caution, but having done so, it was hardly necessary to await a response beyond the ten days mandated u/s 11 sub-section (2). Such a practice will in future be abjured in dealing with such applications for information before the Commission.