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Rediff.com  » News » CIC allows partial disclosure of info on PM's health

CIC allows partial disclosure of info on PM's health

November 03, 2009 16:19 IST
The Central Information Commission has allowed disclosure of information related to Prime Minister's health already present in public domain, due to extensive media coverage like recent cardiac surgery of present incumbent.

However, citing reasons of national security, protection of individual's right to privacy and the fiduciary nature of information, the transparency watchdog was of the view that rest of the information should be withheld.

The decision came a month after Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah rejected a similar plea seeking details of ailments of present and former Prime Ministers.

"The health and medical problems of present and former Prime Ministers which already exist in the public domain, due to extensive media coverage, like the recent cardiac surgery of present Prime Minister, may be given," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit held.

Exercising his Right to Information, petitioner Ashwini Shrivastava had asked the PMO to give details of health and medical problems of present and former Prime Ministers alongwith the details of expenditure borne on their treatment by the government.

In his order, Habibullah had directed that details of expenses incurred during the treatment be given since they are made from public exchequer, but in present order Dixit remained silent on the issue.

The Prime Minister's Office had transferred the RTI application to the Department of Health and Family Welfare under the Ministry of Health, which refused the information saying the medical care scheme for Prime Minister as a 'classified document.'

While hearing the appeal filed by the applicant, the CIC said, "The Commission observes that the information, as sought by the appellant being fiduciary in nature is clearly exempt under provisions of Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act."

The mentioned section bars to make public the details available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants disclosure of such information.

"The said information is held by the Respondent Public Authority in fiduciary capacity on behalf of their patient (in this case, the Prime Minister). So whether the patient is a Head of a State or a common person, the information nevertheless remains fiduciary and is exempt from disclosure to the public at large...It is held by the Commission that the information as sought by the appellant is exempt on the threefold grounds of national security, protection of individuals right to privacy and also because the information is available with the DGHS in fiduciary capacity," the Commission said.

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