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‘Mins` attendance in cabinet meet not confidential’

Attendance of ministers in cabinet meetings cannot be withheld from information seekers as it does not form part of deliberations of the council of ministers, the Central Information Commission has held.



New Delhi: Attendance of ministers in
cabinet meetings cannot be withheld from information seekers
as it does not form part of deliberations of the council
of ministers, the Central Information Commission has held.

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra
directed the Cabinet Secretariat to provide attendance of all
the ministers during the cabinet meetings to an RTI applicant.
The case relates to an application filed by Abhishek
Shukla seeking details of cabinet meetings and list of
attending and absentee ministers which was refused by the
Cabinet Secretariat.

The Cabinet Secretariat provided list of meetings but
refused to give attendance of ministers citing section 8(1)(i)
of the RTI Act which allows exemption of cabinet papers
including records of deliberations of the Council of
Ministers, Secretaries and other officers.
During the hearing, the secretariat said information
regarding attendance in cabinet meetings formed part of
deliberations of council of ministers and therefore could not
be disclosed in terms of the exemption provision.

The point was strongly opposed by the applicant who said
the secretariat was giving this information selectively. While
the information was denied to him, it was provided to another
RTI applicant which means the records are not exempted from
disclosure under the RTI Act.

Rejecting the reasons given by the Cabinet Secretariat,
Mishra held that presence of ministers in such meetings is a
"factual detail" which cannot be withheld in response to an
RTI application.

PTI

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