An order dated November 28 last year of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission directing the SP, Central Range, Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to furnish a copy of the vigilance manual to an RTI applicant M Kannappan, was upheld by the Madras High Court.
Justice D Hariparanthaman upheld the info panel’s order while dismissing a writ petition from the SP, last week. In view of an earlier judgment of a division bench of the High Court, which had directed DVAC to furnish certain information relating to corruption to an applicant therein,the judge said that he was of the view that Kannappan was entitled to have the manual of DVAC. The manual could not be kept as a secret document. It was nothing but a set of rules as to how DVAC was functioning. “I am not able to understand as to why DVAC feels shy to furnish the manual,” the judge added.
In fact, the information that was the subject matter before the division bench was concerned with corruption and the consequent action taken by the DVAC and those details were directed to be furnished. Hence, the DVAC could not refuse to furnish the manual maintained by it. “At this juncture, I wish to refer to the submission made by senior counsel G Rajagopalan for TN Information Commission that the manual is not exempted from disclosure as per section 8 of the RTI Act. While section 8 states that there shall be no obligation to give the information relating to various documents mentioned therein, the manual of DVAC is not one among them. Likewise, the public authorities shall maintain the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records for discharging their functions as contemplated under section 4 (1) (b) (v) of the RTI Act. On a cumulative reading of section 2 (f), 4 (1) (b) (v), 8 and the proviso to section 24 (4), I am of the view that Kannappan is entitled to the manual of DVAC,” the judge added.