The Central Information Commission has ruled that gifts given by a government organisation to visiting dignitaries or on various occasions are covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The ruling was given by Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi while listening to an appeal filed by Jagmohan Sharma — general secretary of the employees’ union of Semi-Conductor Laboratories (SCL), Mohali — who had sought to know among other things the details of gifts given by the organisation.
Asserting that SCL had given gifts to MPs, Sharma had asked for certified copies of the main gate records with with the names of parliamentary committee members, their near and dear ones who visited the complex in 2008 and quantity of gifts in each category purchased for them.
Alleging misuse of funds, he had also sought to know names and designations of people to whom the SCL had given Diwali gifts. Besides, the RTI application requested for details of the gifts that were distributed. The respondent refused to provide information, saying that it was not available.
As SCL fall under ISRO’s Department of Space, the CIC heard the case through video-conferencing. S Satish represented ISRO from Bangalore and Ravindra Saxena the SCL from Chandigarh. Gandhi directed the respondent to provide the list of gifts purchased and given to MPs by September 15.