New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has directed the Central Government to disclose all records related to UPA government's decision to de-notify 123 Wakf properties which enabled their title to be transferred to Delhi Wakf board.
Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad rejected the contention of Union Ministry of Urban Development that the issue of transfer of properties, being a matter of policy is under reconsideration consequent to the directions passed by Delhi High Court.
"Every decision of council of ministers precedes deliberation and due consultative process. Any subsequent decision modifying or altering the earlier decision would be preceded by a consultative process 'distinct' from the earlier one. Thus, the proposition that a settled policy decision of council of ministers gets unsettled merely by an act of reconsideration is untenable," Azad said in his order.
Hearing the plea of activist Subhash Agrawal, he said once a decision is taken by Council of Ministers, the matter gets over and any subsequent reconsiderations of the earlier decision would not get the benefit of exemption as contemplated under section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act for records forming part of it.
"However, exemption would be permissible for the records forming part of subsequent consultative process in consequence of any reconsideration, decision whereof is yet to be taken. Hence, the plea of Section 8(1)(i) is not maintainable in the present set of facts," he said.
The Information Commissioner said the plea of the Government that information could not have been disclosed since the information pertained to a cabinet decision facing challenge in Delhi High Court, at the relevant time is "grossly misplaced".
"Clause (b) to Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, 2005 would have been applicable, had the court of law seized with the matter forbade disclosure of information expressly or revelation of information sought would have constituted contempt of court. Thus this plea of respondent is also found unsustainable," he said.