DoPT withholds info on CIC selection
New Delhi: Department for Personnel and Training (DoPT), which is the nodal authority for handling RTI matters, has refused to furnish records related to appointment process of the Central Information Commission without citing any exemption clause for the same, which is mandatory as per CIC orders.
While refusing to furnish information, a Central Public Information Officer must cite either of the 10 sub clauses given in the section 8 of the RTI Act along with proper reasons justifying how the section is attracted.
The case related to an Odisha based RTI applicant Deba Prasad Sahoo who sought to know the information related to appointment of Chief Information Commissioner, a post which has been lying vacant since August 22, 2014 after the retirement of then incumbent Rajiv Mathur.
“The appointment of IC/CIC is under challenge in the High Court of Delhi and therefore, the document sought for cannot be provided at this stage,” R K Girdhar, the Central Public Information Officer for DoPT said.
Under Section 8 (1) (b) only that information can be withheld by a CPIO which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court.
In a recent order, Information Commissioner Basant Seth had clarified “The mere pendency of arbitration proceedings is not sufficient justification by itself for withholding the information. The RTI Act provides no exemption from disclosure requirement for sub-judice matters”.
“The only exemption in sub-judice matters is regarding what has been expressly forbidden by a court or a tribunal and what may constitute contempt of court,” Seth said.
In his response dated May 5, 2015, Girdhar said the CPIO claimed that appointment of Chief Information Commissioner is being handled in file number 4/7/2014-IR.
On March 25, 2015 reply to a separate RTI activist Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra, Girdhar had claimed that the process for shortlisting of candidates, for the current phase of appointment to the post of Chief Information Commissioner/ Information Commissioners is not available in file numbers… 4/7/2014-IR.