Cabinet deliberations will be disclosed after decision taken, says CIC
Disregarding the Centre's refusal to disclose details of Cabinet deliberations, the Central Information Commission has directed it to reveal the file notings on the government’s decision to prematurely terminate services of a senior Hudco official.
“A Cabinet decision, the reasons thereof and the material on the basis of which the decision was taken, is liable to be disclosed once the decision has been taken and the matter is complete,” chief information commissioner Mr Wajahat Habibullah said. The CIC's ruling came in response to a Right to Information application filed by Mr AN Gupta, a former Hudco director, in which he had sought department of personnel and training (DoPT) documents related to the notings of the appointments committee of the Cabinet (ACC). Alleging foul-play behind his removal, Mr Gupta claimed that divulging the file details would establish that the ACC’s approval to terminate him had been obtained allegedly on the basis of false and fabricated documents. The DoPT, which denied to divulge details to Mr Gupta, initially took a stand that papers relating to notings given to the ACC were not connected with any public activity.
The submission was outright rejected when the Commission observed: “The very act of submitting a note to the ACC is, in fact, a public activity and cannot in any way be deemed a private activity.” In its hearing before the CIC, the ministry, however, insisted that such details fell under the category of Cabinet papers and were thus exempt from disclosure.
The argument was rejected, though, when the Commission said that the RTI Act was specific about disclosure of details after a Cabinet decision was taken.