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The PIO cannot deny information by a mere blanket statement not supported by any cogent evidence or material on the basis of which it can be clearly demonstrated that such disclosure would in fact attract the exemption contained in Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.
Mr Justice R N Mishra (Retired) vs Mr Nirbhay Kumar
Central Information Commission
Complaint No. CIC/SM/C/2011/000117/SG
About/from the judgment:
The denial of information by the PIO appears to be a mere blanket statement not supported by any cogent evidence or material on the basis of which it can be clearly demonstrated that such disclosure would in fact attract the exemption contained in Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act. In other words, the PIO has failed to discharge the burden placed upon him under Section 19(5) of the RTI Act to prove that the denial of information under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act was justified.
High Court of Delhi in Bhagat Singh v. CIC W.P. (C) No. 3114/2007 has observed as follows:
“13. Access to information, under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule and exemptions under Section 8, the exception. Section 8 being a restriction on this fundamental right, must therefore is to be strictly construed. It should not be interpreted in manner as to shadow the very right itself. Under Section 8, exemption from releasing information is granted if it would impede the process of investigation or the prosecution of the offenders. It is apparent that the mere existence of an investigation process cannot be a ground for refusal of the information; the authority withholding information must show satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information would hamper the investigation process. Such reasons should be germane, and the opinion of the process being hampered should be reasonable and based on some material. Sans this consideration, Section 8(1)(h) and other such provisions would become the haven for dodging demands for information.” (Emphasis added)
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