Law Ministry advice not in fiduciary capacity: CIC



New Delhi: The advice tendered by Law and Justice Ministry to various government departments is not in fiduciary capacity and should not be withheld from public on that ground, the Central Information Commission has held.

The transparency panel was hearing a plea of RTI applicant Rajiv Ranjan Verma seeking to know the advice tendered by the Law Ministry to Personnel Department on action sought against an IAS probationer.

"The Commission shall take this opportunity to clarify that the records of any advice/opinion tendered by the Respondent Ministry to other government departments do not fall under the category of information available to the Law Ministry in fiduciary capacity," Information Commissioner Sushma Singh said.

The Law Ministry had refused to disclose the advice saying it is held by the department from where the file has originated. It said the ministry gives advice on the file received by it which is returned to the department concerned.

While replying, the Central Public Information Officer also said that advice tendered by the Ministry is given in fiduciary capacity and hence cannot be disclosed as per provisions of the RTI Act.

"The Respondent (Law Ministry) has also mentioned that the advice tendered by itself to any Department/Ministry is in the fiduciary capacity," Singh said while directing the Personnel Department, the concerned department, to provide the information.

She said neither any exemption clause under Sections eight or nine of the RTI Act nor any other provision barring disclosure of information under the Act has been invoked by the Ministry while making such a remark.

Singh said that the records of any advice or opinion tendered by Law Ministry to other government departments do not fall under the category of information available to the Law Ministry in fiduciary capacity, she said.

PTI