The information about the Padma Awards should not be shared with the media, the Home Ministry has instructed an RTI applicant asking him to keep it only for his personal “consumption”, though there is no such provision in the transparency law.
The Ministry which was directed to disclose information on the Padma Awards by the Central Information Commission has provided the same with a caveat saying, “The above information is for the consumption of the applicant and not for publicity in press.”
The Right to Information Act does not have any statute which gives a public authority powers to dictate the applicant over the use of information received under the law, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.
“Under the Act it is not possible that a department can make such a request... They can request not make the information public, if it is embarrassing to the department.
“It’s under courtesy; applicant may or may not accept it. Otherwise once the information is given under the law, it is public,” Mr. Habibullah told PTI.
The reply from the Home Ministry pertains to an RTI application by Subhash Chandra Agrawal in which it gave a list of candidates whose names were deliberated by the Padma Awards Committee but were not given the awards.
This year’s final 130 recipients were picked from among 1,163 names discussed by the Padma Awards committee in two batches.
People who were not finalised for the awards despite being recommended by Prime Minister’s Office include former National Security Adviser Brijesh Mishra, Painter Jatin Das and dancer-scholar Padma Subrahmanyam among others.
Eminent Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan also said the reply given by the Home Ministry was wrong and does not conform to the provisions of the RTI Act.
When asked about the reply, he said this was a wrong reply and public authorities cannot make any such mention which is not in accordance with the transparency law.
“Central Information Commission should confirm if such directions by a public authority, like as mentioned above, are according to law or not,” Subhash Agrawal said.