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Section 8(1)(h)

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Following are observations of Delhi High Court in respect of exemptions claimed by public authorities under Section 8(1)(h)

The Commission finds the following observation of the Hon'ble High Court Delhi in Bhagat Singh v.
CIC & Ors. WP(C) 3114/2007 pertinent in this matter.
"13. Access to information, under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule and exemptions
under Section 8, the exception. Section 8 being a restriction on this fundamental
right, must therefore is to be strictly construed. It should not be interpreted in manner as to shadow the very right itself. Under Section 8, exemption from releasing
information is granted if it would impede the process of investigation or the
prosecution of the offenders. It is apparent that the mere existence of an investigation
process cannot be a ground for refusal of the information; the authority withholding
information must show satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information
would hamper the investigation process. Such reasons should be germane, and the
opinion of the process being hampered should be reasonable and based on some
material. Sans this consideration, Section 8(1)(h) and other such provisions would
become a haven for dodging demands for information."
Furthermore, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in B.S. Mathur v. PIO in W.P. (C) 295 of 2011 dated
03.06.2011 had held that :
"19. The question that arises for consideration has already been formulated in the
Court's order dated 21st April 2011: Whether the disclosure of the information sought
by the Petitioner to the extent not supplied to him yet would "impede the
investigation" in terms of Section 8(1)(h) RTI Act" The scheme of the RTI Act, its
objects and reasons indicate that disclosure of information is the rule and
non-disclosure the exception. A public authority which seeks to withhold information
available with it has to show that the information sought is of the nature specified in
Section 8 RTI Act. As regards Section 8(1)(h) RTI Act, which is the only provision
invoked by the Respondent to deny the Petitioner the information sought by him, it
will have to be shown by the public authority that the information sought "would
impede the process of investigation." The mere reproducing of the wording of the
statute would not be sufficient when recourse is had to Section 8(1)(h) RTI Act. The
burden is on the public authority to show in what manner the disclosure of such
information would 'impede' the investigation...............
22. ...........The mere pendency of an investigation or inquiry is by itself not a
sufficient justification for withholding information. It must be shown that the
disclosure of the information sought would "impede" or even on a lesser threshold
"hamper" or "interfere with" the investigation. This burden the Respondent has failed
to discharge."
Furthermore, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Adesh Kumar v. UOI and Ors. W.P. (C) 3542/ 2014
dated 16.12.2014 had held as under:
"10. A bare perusal of the order passed by the FAA also indicates that the aspect as to
how the disclosure of information would impede prosecution has not been
considered. Merely, citing that the information is exempted under Section 8(1)(h) of
the Act would not absolve the public authority from discharging its onus as required
to claim such exemption. Thus, neither the FAA nor the CIC has questioned the
Public Authority as to how the disclosure of information would impede the
prosecution."

posted Mar 27 by Prasad Vaidya

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