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Thread: Sub Judice? It is no bar to RTI Act>

  1. Sub Judice? It is no bar to RTI Act>

    I am furnishing the following interesting news report which I found in "The Telegraph" dated 17.09.2006, for the benefit of RTI community:

    New Delhi, Sept. 16: Fighting a case against a government official but fed up with the roadblocks in getting the necessary documents from unwilling babus? Put your faith in the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
    Documents that may help beef up a legal case can be sought under this legislation even if the matter is already in court, says the central information commission.

    The commission — an independent panel appointed as the legislation’s custodian — has clarified that government bodies cannot deny documents to an appellant on the ground that the matter is sub judice.
    Many people have been denied information just on this plea, based on a dodgy interpretation of a clause in the RTI Act.

    “We believe that people fighting a legal battle have every right to be given information that will help them in the case. Government bodies have been wrong in denying information claiming the matter is sub judice,” chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has told The Telegraph.

    He feels that most such cases have a strong “public interest component, which makes transparency extremely important”.

    For instance, Rajeev Agarwal, a senior manager at Wipro, had decided to take on Delhi’s traffic police after being told by officials to pay the “mandatory” bribe to get his driving licence renewed.
    Rajeev shot off a letter to the traffic police, asking to be told the procedure for lodging a complaint against the officials who had asked for the bribe.

    After waiting in vain for a reply, he filed a case and, under the RTI Act, sought details of appointments in the traffic police.

    This time he was told that since the matter was now sub judice, the traffic police were not obliged to provide him with the information.
    Habibullah’s clarification has made Rajeev happy.

    “I was told there would be no point applying to the central information commission as the matter was sub judice. Now I feel I can get the documents that will help me win the battle against corruption in the transport department,” he said in his sleek, wooden-panelled office overlooking the Lotus Temple.

    Mahaveer Singhvi, a young Indian Foreign Service probationer, is another appellant who was denied information on the same ground.
    Dismissed from service, Mahaveer is fighting a case against the Central Administrative Tribunal in Delhi High Court. He is waiting for documents relating to his dismissal from the foreign ministry.

    The contentious clause —Section 8(1)(j) — of the RTI Act says: “Information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.”

    It, however, does not say the converse — that information that cannot be produced before Parliament or a state legislature should not be made available to any person, as has been interpreted by government bodies.

    If a matter is sub judice, documents relating to it cannot be produced in Parliament or a state legislature.

    The link to the above is furnished herunder:

    Sub judice? Itâ019s no bar to info act

  2. ICAR scientist to inspect CBI files

    I am posting another news item, which is relevant to this thread-Ganpat.

    NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has allowed a senior ICAR scientist to inspect investigation files and records on a multicrore, computer purchase scam in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which came to light in the mid-1990s. The case was closed in February 2004 for lack of evidence.

    The Central Bureau of Investigation, in a first information report registered in 2000, alleged that certain officials of the ICAR and a private computer company had entered into a criminal conspiracy, causing a loss of over Rs. 12 crore to the exchequer. However, in 2003 it filed a closure appeal, which a special CBI court accepted.

    This September, Sadachari Singh Tomar, principal scientist with the ICAR, who is also the appellant before the CIC, filed a criminal review petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the closure of the case.

    Notices sent

    The court sent notices to officials and the petition is likely to come up for hearing next March.

    Earlier this year, Mr. Tomar filed an application, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, with the CBI seeking information on the investigation into the scam, particularly on the basis of his inputs. Not satisfied with the CBI information, he approached the CIC.

    Hearing Mr. Tomar's appeal last week, the CIC said the information provided by the CBI's central public information officers (CPIOs) was not very clear, nor was his request specific. It, therefore, advised him to seek an inspection of files and records so as to identify the information he required.

    The CPIOs have been directed to allow the inspection, after due application of Section 10 (1) of the RTI Act (disclosing parts of information otherwise exempt from disclosure). The CIC has given the CBI two weeks to implement the order.

    In a related appeal, Mr. Tomar also sought access to the complete reports and documents of inquiry panels such as the Pawan Raina Committee, set up by the Agriculture Ministry to look into the scam.

    The CIC, disposing of the appeal on November 23, said the information sought lay with at least four bodies — the CBI, the ICAR, the Ministry and the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC) within the Ministry.

    It directed the DAC appellate authority, an officer of the level of Joint Secretary, to ascertain which piece of information was available with which body and whether it could be released under the RTI Act.

    Subsequently, the appellant would file requests with the CPIOs of the four bodies seeking specific information.

    The CIC has given the appellate authority six weeks to implement the direction.

    (Source: "The HIndu". Dec.10,2006, online edition)

  3. Thanks for providing much valuable information.


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