HC sets aside SIC directive on govt.

The Kerala High Court has set aside the State Information Commission (SIC) order directing the State government to provide a copy of the report submitted by the committee appointed by the government to review the contributory pension scheme to an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

Justice Murali Purushothaman passed the order on Wednesday while allowing a petition filed by the State government against the order of the SIC. The SIC gave the order on a petition filed by Jayachandran Kallingal, general secretary, Joint Council of State Service Organisation.

The government pointed out that the report of the committee was under consideration of the government and required detailed examination before taking any decision on the same. Since it may involve a change of policy and alteration in the conditions of service, the same had to be placed before the Cabinet.

As the report was the material on the basis of which a decision had to be taken by the Cabinet, it fell within the category of information exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act.

The court observed that the proviso to Section 8(1)(i) provided that once the Cabinet took a decision on matters brought before it, the exemption from disclosure of information ceased and the decisions of the Cabinet, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public. Only at this stage, the public information officer could provide the material on the basis of which the Cabinet decisions were taken.

The finding of the SIC that the report could be furnished and then the government could take policy decisions could not be sustained. The finding of the SIC that the Contributory Pension Reviewing Committee was functioning solely with the public fund of the government and therefore the report shall be furnished could not be sustained in the light of the provisions under Section 8(1)(i) of the Act.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2022 8:11:42 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/hc-sets-aside-sic-directive-on-govt/article65582236.ece