CIC rejects MHA contention on 'secret' lookout notice

CIC rejects MHA contention on 'secret' lookout notice

A Home Ministry circular issued 40 years ago for opening a lookout notice against a person should be disclosed, the Central Information Commission has held, rejecting the contention of the ministry that it was a classified record.

Rejecting the claims of the ministry, Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava said an RTI applicant had merely sought copies of instructions issued by the ministry for the opening of the lookout notice.

However, the ministry submitted that the said circular was a secret and a classified document which is not available in public domain, Bhargava noted.

The case pertains to one Gaurav Gupta who had sought copies of circulars pertaining to the opening of Look Out Circular (LOC) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) dated September 5, 1979, and office order dated December 27, 2000, under the RTI Act.

The ministry denied the information merely citing the exemption clause of Section 8 of the Right To Information (RTI) Act without attributing any proper reason.

The clause has 10 subsections which have to be mentioned along with proper reasoning while denying information.

"The Commission observes that the Circulars/OMs etc., only prescribe the procedure/policy, as well as the responsibilities of State Governments and Union Territories regarding lookout notices. The Commission, however, notes that the information sought under the RTI Act, 2005 can be denied by the CPIO only under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and not otherwise," Bhargava said.

Directing the MHA to disclose the circulars, he said the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) has not been able to justify the denial of information sought for by the appellant as per the provisions of the RTI Act.