Correspondence between Executive about a former CJI is not privileged correspondence

Central Information Commission (CIC): “Assuming for a moment that the information about ‘action taken’ on request for probe against former CJI is privileged, such ‘privilege’ is not expressly provided as ground for rejection of request for information under Section 8(1);”, held CIC while directing the Department of Legal Affairs to provide the action taken information about request for probe about former CJI Justice K G Balakrishnan to the appellant. The Court was hearing an appeal filed by RTI activist challenging the denial of Law Ministry to disclose the action taken on a request for probe about former Chief Justice of India, KG Balakrishnan for alleged misconduct. Through his RTI application, appellant had sought copies of correspondence, file notings, documents, etc. on action taken report on his request. The said information was not provided by the ministry to the appellant. After perusal of records, Court noted that, “under Section 8(1)(c) information, disclosure of which would cause breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature cannot be given. The information sought has nothing to do with the privilege of Parliament or State Legislature. The Correspondence between Executive about a former CJI is not privileged correspondence as per any provision of RTI Act or Constitution of India. It is not information given in fiduciary relationship.” The Commission further observed that non-disclosure of what appellant sought would not serve any public interest, would not harm any protected interest and in fact, public interest in its disclosure would outweigh the probable harm, if any, to protected (if at all protected) interests. (Subhash Chand Agrawal v. Department of Legal Affairs, 2014 SCC OnLine CIC 4528, decided on November 21, 2014)

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