New Delhi: The Cabinet Secretariat seems to
apply different rules for disclosures made under Right to
Information to applicants.
The Cabinet Secretariat, which refused to make public
details of attendance records of ministers during cabinet
meetings a few months ago to one applicant claiming they are
beyond the purview of transparency law, has now given them to
another RTI applicant.
"The information is denied in terms of section 8(1)(i) of
the RTI Act as this is part of deliberations of the Cabinet,"
Central Public Information Officer Meera Ranjan Tshering said
in her reply to applicant Abhishek Shukla in March this year
when he asked for attendance records of Ministers during
Her point was upheld by Joint Secretary Rajive Kumar
while deciding the first appeal against Tshering`s reply. In
his decision dated May 20, 2010, he said these being cabinet
deliberations cannot be shared.
A second appeal has been filed before the Central
Information Commission and a decision is awaited.
Surprisingly, the Cabinet Secretariat has now provided
updated attendance records of the Cabinet Ministers to another
RTI activist with all the details of attendance of ministers
during cabinet meetings.
A senior Information Commissioner at Central Information
Commission said, "Now it has been established that information
was not exempt from disclosure. It was denied to an
applicant citing a non-applicable clause. In such cases
complaint can be filed and demand for penalty on the public
authority can be made."
Attempts to contact Rajive Kumar failed as his office
said he was on leave. Efforts to reach CPIO Tshering also
The information now revealed shows Union Chemicals
Minister M K Alagiri and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee
skipped the cabinet meetings most while Home Minister P
Chidambaram was among the most regular attendees.