CIC: Appellant has merely sought to know the number of cases of issuance of fake certificates and disclosure has no bearing on any aspect of the trial process - CIC: Provide the particulars of the authority with whom the complaints can be filed
Information sought and background of the case:
The Appellant filed an online RTI application dated 02.05.2019 seeking information regarding the orders of Allahabad High Court in which Director, CBI was directed to take up the matter and get enquiry conducted of all cases of issuance of fake certificate and lodge case where fraudulent activities are writ apparent, for bringing guilty persons to book and keeping spurious incumbents away from the arena be it pursuing higher studies or trying to procure appointment based on such certificate.
“1. Supply the certified number of cases of issuance of fake certificates which have come to the notice of CBI after the court orders as per attachment.
2. Supply the certified details of officers who are entrusted enquiry into the matter.
3. Supply the certified details of authority to whom intimation about fake certificates can be given.”
The CPIO replied to the appellant on 17.05.2019 stating that information sought cannot be provided as per the Section 24 of the RTI Act, 2005.
Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 20.05.2019. FAA’s order dated 27.05.2019 upheld the reply of CPIO.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio conference.
Respondent: P.K. Panigrahi, SP & CPIO present through video conference.
The Appellant stated that he is aggrieved with the fact that despite having clearly substantiated the allegation of corruption in his RTI Application & First Appeal, both the CPIO & FAA have denied the information to him citing Section 24 of the RTI Act.
The CPIO submitted that upon the directions of the Hon’ble High Court of Allahabad, a Preliminary Inquiry was instituted and two FIRs were registered in the matter, subsequent to which as on date the Charge sheet has been filed with the CBI Courts in Lucknow & Ghaziabad respectively, against the accused persons as well as the beneficiaries of these fake degrees. He further submitted that since the case is in trial, disclosure of the information related to the case documents and details of the inquiring officers at this stage may not be allowed. He furthermore submitted that as for point no.3 of the RTI Application, the information is available on their website.
The Commission based on a perusal of the facts on record takes grave exception to the gross non-application of mind of the CPIO & FAA in not having considered the allegations of corruption clearly spelt out by the Appellant in his RTI Application and First Appeal. Now, having heard the submissions of the CPIO, the Commission finds that only the information sought for at point no.2 of the RTI Application can be denied by invoking Section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which 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; of the RTI Act. As for, point no.1, the fact that the trial is pending is inconsequential as the Appellant has merely sought to know the number of cases of issuance of fake certificates and disclosure of the same has no bearing on any aspect of the trial process, whatsoever. Similarly, the information sought for at point no.3 of the RTI Application is although in the form of seeking clarification which is not as per Section 2(f), however, since no proper reply was provided to the RTI Application by the CPIO, a categorical reply to this effect should be also now sent to the Appellant.
As observed above, the CPIO is directed to provide the available information for point no.1 of the RTI Application and for point no.3 of the RTI Application, a specific reply should be provided indicating the particulars of the authority with whom the complaints regarding fake certificates can be filed. The said information should be provided free of cost to the Appellant by the CPIO within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under due intimation to the Commission.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Dr. Sandeep Kumar Gupta v. Central Bureau of Investigation in File No: CIC/CBRUI/A/2019/641571, Date of Decision: 01/04/2021