New Delhi: The Central Information
Commission has directed the Press Council of India to make
public the report of two-member sub-committee on paid news as
part of suo motu disclosure mandated under the RTI Act.
The Press Council of India has constituted two member sub-
committee comprising eminent journalists Paranjoy Guha
Thakurta and K Sreenivas Reddy to probe the phenomenon of paid
news following allegations that publicity material of some
politicians camouflaged as news was being published by some
An RTI applicant had demanded from the Press Council the
copy of report submitted by the sub-committee and
communications exchanged on the issue besides other
The Council first refused to provide information saying
it was seeking legal opinion on disclosing the report and
providing it under the RTI Act. Later, it asked for additional
fee for providing it. The applicant stated that he has not
received any such letter and the report should be published as
proactive disclosure mandated under the law.
The Council did not cite any provisions of the RTI Act
while denying the information which is required as per the
provisions of the transparency law.
"This (suo motu disclosure) appears to be a reasonable
demand and the Commission under its powers under Section
19(8)(a)(iii) directs the PIO to ensure that the report is
placed on the website of the Council before 10 October 2011.
This would be in fulfilment of its obligation under Section
4(1)(b)(xvii) of the RTI Act," Information Commissioner
Shailesh Gandhi held while directing the council to provide it
before September 30.
He said RTI Act is a fundamental right of citizens and
denial of information can "only be on the basis" if it is
exempt under Section 8(1) of the Act.