Fact finding committee report under RTI Act can not be denied if report was submitted and action was taken. Section 8(1)(h) was not applicable-Delhi HC
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 1099 (2017) (01) HC
Brief Facts of the Case:
The petitioner had challenged order of the Central Information Commission (CIC), directing to provide the complete and categorical information sought (i.e. certified copy of complete case file including complaint letter, fact finding report including note sheets etc.) by the respondent.
The petitioner had denied the information to the respondent on the ground that since the matter was under consideration regarding cancellation of contract, hence, information could not be provided under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.
The said section, for a quick reference is extracted hereunder:
“8(1)(h). information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders”
Observations made by the High Court:
The Hon’ble High Court observed that the reading of Section 8(1)(h) showed that in cases where the provision of information is likely to impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders, the same could be denied.
The Hon’ble Court noted that consequent to the complaint received by the petitioner, a fact finding Committee had been constituted, which had submitted its report and consequent to the report, action has already been taken for terminating the Contract of respondent.
The Hon’ble Court observed that it was not the case of the petitioner that any investigation was pending. Since there is no investigation which is pending, Section 8(1)(h) would have no applicability as the supply of information is not going to impede any process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
Regarding the reliance of the petitioner on section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act, 2005, the Hon’ble Court observed that Section 8(1)(g) would be applicable where disclosure of information would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
The Hon’ble Court opined that the said Section was also not applicable in the facts of the present case as the petitioners had chosen to take a civil action of termination of a Contract. There was no information, which was provided in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes. Further, there was nothing pointed out to show that disclosure of information is likely to endanger the life or physical safety of any person.
The denial of information on the purported grounds of Section 8(1)(h) or Section 8(1)(g) was not justified. CIC had rightly taken a view that pleas raised by the petitioner of exemption under Section 8(1)(h) was not legally tenable.