NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has reprimanded the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for denying records related to the appointment of information commissioners in response to an RTI application.
Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said that denial of the information by the DoPT “stifles the spirit” of the law.
Sinha lambasted the ministry for wrongly invoking Section 8(1)(i) to deny information about the framing of RTI rules.
“It is ironic even further that the information that has been denied in the instant case pertaining to the appointment of information commissioners under the RTI Act, who are ordained with the statutory authority of securing the regime of transparency,” he said.
The applicant, Commodore Lokesh Batra, had filed two separate RTI applications seeking the information but was refused on the grounds that these papers related to the cabinet and cannot be disclosed before a final decision is arrived at.
However, the ministry had been disclosing records related to appointments of information commissioners during the UPA era even when the process was underway.
After he was denied the information, Batra had approached the commission, the highest adjudicating body for RTI matters.
The CPIO, the officer responsible for answering the RTI applications, said that the documents sought by the appellant were to be submitted to the Search Committee (Committee of Secretaries) and subsequently to a committee chaired by the prime minister and consisting of the leader of the opposition and a Union cabinet minister.
The ministry also refused to disclose the file related to framing of 2017 rules of the RTI, saying it was “under process”.
However, Sinha stated that the replies do not convey any substantial justification for invoking the section.
With PTI inputs