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  1. What is contained in confidential reports is undoubtedly ‘personal information’ about that employee. The ACRs are protected from disclosure because arguably such disclosure seriously harm interpersonal relationship in a given organization. Further, the ACR notings represent an interaction based on trust and confidence between the officers involved in initiating, reviewing or accepting the ACRs. These officers could be seriously embarrassed and even compromised if their notings are made public. There are, thus, reasonable grounds to protect all such information through a proper classification under the Official Secrets Act.
  2. Let me give an example straight a Ministry sends the file to Financial Advisor for concurrence of the proposal like purchase of war ships e.t.c. The Financial Advisor opens up a shadow file. The Shadow file is the exact replica of the main file. Now the Shadow file moves from Deputy Financial Advisor to IFA. Once the decision is made by IFA for concurrence or otherwise in the shadow file, the details are then entered into main file and the decisions are conveyed to the proposing department/ Ministry. The Main file is available under RTI, but the shadow file is not revealed. Has anybody got the copies of the shadow file under RTI? If one gets to access the shadow file, which generally contains a lot more information than what main file would contain, the level of transparency shall improve. I wanted to ask from the learned members of this forum, if they have ever asked for the shadow file from any Department? Also if they have indeed asked for the shadow file, what were the questions?
  3. Hello,Dena Bank deny to give of information under official secret act to Signatory Authority of Charity Trust Account Holder.
  4. MANOJ B. PATEL

    Official secret

    THERE is little reason to be jubilant over the Indian government’s decision to set up a panel to look into the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (OSA) in the light of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Like other colonial laws successive governments have found the act a useful bludgeon to silence dissent. Less than a decade ago the UPA government, headed by Manmohan Singh, set up the Second Administrative Reforms Commission chaired by a person of ministerial rank, M. Veerappa Moily. Its report entitled Right to Information: Master Key to Good Governance, said that “The Official Secrets Act, 1923 should be repealed.” But the government rejected the recommendations, saying “OSA is the only law to deal with cases of espionage, wrongful possession and communication of sensitive information detrimental to the security of the state.”Read more at; Official secrets
  5. Cabinet note is not secret Within the proviso of the Section 8 (1)(i) of the RTI Act, there is a condition which says information could be withheld until the matter “is complete or over.’ The dispute is about interpretation of this phrase. What does “complete or over” mean? Does it mean “until the NJAC is constituted by the cabinet” about which it should be secret?The RTI law is also called sunshine legislation. In US, they call the government in sunshine, meaning transparency. Among three estates, two function openly – judiciary and legislature. While every trial or appeal is a public hearing, where anybody can attend subject to space and security, parliamentary proceedings are either open or telecast live. Though there is possibility of certain issues being ‘confidential,’ most of the functioning of two estates is ‘open’. Still there are two safeguards for these two – Legislature has power to punish for breach of privilege, while the judiciary can punish for its contempt. Both have ‘special powers’ to snub the ordinary man for his comments against them. Similarly, the executive is armed with ‘protection to official secrecy,’ and the law punishes for revelation of secrecy. Except what they want to tell, everything could be secrecy, or every paper could be privileged. There were a very few cases where persons were punished for revealing secret documents. It is a drastic power that is unfortunately used to guard corruption and irregularities. The administration suffered in general because the indecision, indifference, lethargy and redtape are protected by this ‘cover.’ The Right to Information Act in 2005 opened up this cover; the rule of secrecy became an exception. Public information now cannot be hidden. It is a statutory duty to bring out that, in spite of the “Official Secrets Act” being in place without any dilution. In this context, the question is: Is cabinet note a secret? Senior Advocate S N Shukla sought a Union Cabinet note and details about its decision to establish National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC). The department of justice refused to provide the information, staing that it was cabinet secret and was exempted under the Section 8 (1)(i) of the RTI Act. The RTI Act has created access right and listed out exceptions. One such exception is regarding cabinet papers. As per the Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 a public authority is not obliged to disclose Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, secretaries and other officers. The Section subjects this general exemption in regard to Cabinet papers to two provisos, which are as under:-Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over. While tje appellant claims benefit of the proviso to that section, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the department of justice said that it cannot be given until “the matter is complete or over.” If the Cabinet has not decided, the RTI says that information cannot be disclosed but when the decision was over exeption does not operate as proviso. But within the proviso, there is a condition which says information could be withheld until the matter “is complete or over.’ The dispute is about interpretation of this phrase. What does “complete or over” mean? Does it mean “until the NJAC is constituted by the cabinet” about which it should be secret? The appellant argued that the moment Bill is passed by Parliament, it is complete. The intial note on amendments to the Constitution for appointment of judges and for establishment of the NJAC was defered by the Cabinet and withdrawn in 2013. A revised note approved on 02.08.2013 by the Cabinet says the following :i) Amendments to Article 124, 217, 222 and 231 and insertion of Article 124 A in Chapter IV, Part V of the Constitution for the creation of Judicial Appointments Commission.ii) Formation of Judicial Appointments Commission as per the details in the draft Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013.That the Cabinet at its meeting held on 02.08.2013 approved the proposal for the establishment of the NJAC is evident. Accordingly, two Bills were proposed for the introduction in the Rajya Sabha – namely the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, and Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013. The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill was considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha as Constitution (99th Amendment) Bill on 05.09.2013. The JAC Bill was referred to the Parliamentaty Standing Committee, which submitted its report on 09.12.2013. The department of justice explained that Cabinet decision was not complete as it was put to public consultation, with consultation meetings at different cities in country which necessitated reconsideration. The new government revised this Bill which was passed by the Parliament. The appellant sought nothing about new form of bill but has every right to know the notings of the bill as soon as the bill was finally okayed by the cabinet as per the judgment of Delhi High Court in UOI Vs CIC [W.P© No. 8396/2009], wherein it was stated that the Secion 8 (1)(i) of RTI Act prohibits disclosure of cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers for a limited period, protects the Cabinet. The High Court explained that the prohibition is not for an unlimited duration or an infinite period but lasts till a decision is taken by the Council of Ministers and “the matter is complete or over.”In the second appeal, as Central Information Commissioner I have directed on 7.1.2015 the Department of Justice to disclose the notings. After the Cabinet has decided, the notings cannot be withheld on the pretext that the Bill did not become an Act. And I explained: ‘The First Appellate Authority’s order that ‘decision of Council of Ministers is disclosable but Cabinet papers are not,’ is totally untenable. Similarly, the plea taken by the PIO that because the decision with regard to the introduction of the Bill had not reached the finality and hence the noting could not be disclosed does not stand, in view of the plain reading of the Sec 8 (1)(i) of RTI Act and the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. As soon as the final decision was taken with regard to the Bill, which is borne out of the fact by the introduction of the same in Rajya Sabha in 2013 itself, the matter was thus complete or over, the noting should have been disclosed. The CIC directed the Justice dept to provide informaiton sought within a month free of cost. By:Madabhushi Sridhar Read More: Cabinet Note is Not Secret - The Hans India
  6. also pls let me know who is the sanctioning authority for an officers post(group A) in the central government organisation(Civil/defence) info by RTI (Proposal put up for sanction of a particular post by the employer specifically in defence) or will this b treated as secret info? Sent from RTI INDIA Mobile App Sent from RTI INDIA Mobile App
  7. 12 April 2007 Refusing Mission Netaji's plea to review its decision in Netaji-R&AW case, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has stated that it has "no jurisdiction to pass any orders/decisions" to India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). The CIC has stated in a letter issued on 9 April 2007 that R&AW, which figures in the in the Second Schedule of the RTI Act, is beyond its preview, unless the matter involves allegation of corruption and human rights violation. Details
  8. karira

    India silent on tax cheats

    As reported by Vishwa Mohan of TNN in Times of India, Hyderabad Edition, on 21 May 2008: Welcome India silent on tax cheats Germany Ready To Reveal List Of Indians With Funds In Tax Haven Vishwa Mohan | TNN New Delhi: Investigators in India might have their best chance yet to trace those Indians who have stashed away millions in the tiny tax haven of Liechtenstein, a small landlocked country between Austria and Switzerland, provided the Manmohan Singh government asks for the information on offer. The dope on hundreds of rich Indians who have black money parked in Liechtenstein could be made available to the authorities here as the German government, which has obtained a list of account holders at Liechtenstein’s LTG Bank, is willing to part with the names. The German federal government has been willing to do this free of charge since February. Several countries including the US, the UK, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Ireland have already used the opportunity to zero in on their citizens who have evaded taxes and smuggled their wealth to the principality, the sixth-smallest country in the world. But Transparency International says India has maintained “a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German government for this data’’. Expressing concern over the India’s lackadaisical attitude in getting after offenders who have cheated the tax authorities of millions of dollars is quite surprising and the Indian chapter of TI— an international organization campaigning to reduce corruption— has urged the government to take all necessary steps to seek the data. Admiral R H Tahiliani, chairman of TI India and a former navy chief, said: “This money belongs to the people of India and it is possible that it has been tucked away in this distant country by those who have acquired it illegally.’’ Indeed, the offer looks too good to refuse. It is a bit like being served secrets on a platter and if the government does not waste time looking a gift horse in the mouth, it could get data that might otherwise never be accessed given the laws that protect tax havens that often require specific proof of criminality. In fact, the dice is invariably loaded against investigators— for example the Hindujas were able to delay proceedings in the Bofors case by challenging each application filed by CBI. Suspecting that the government’s chariness could stem from fears that politicians and industrialists might be compromised by the data, TI has, in a statement, said: “It is alleged that this money belongs to rich and powerful politicians, industrialists and stock brokers and that is why the reluctance on the part of Government of India (to get details from Germany).’’ Liechtenstein: Paradise for tax evaders In February, the head of Deutsche Post, Klaus Zumwinkel, was forced to resign after being accused of stashing funds away in Liechtenstein. On February 25, Germany said the details of the 800 non-German account-holders would be given to their respective countries free of cost. PMO blinks at Indians’ slush money abroad New Delhi: The list of rich Indians who have black money parked in Liechtenstein, a tax haven, could be made available to the Indian authorities as the German government, which has obtained a list of account holders at Liechtenstein’s LTG Bank, is willing to part with the names. German federal government has been willing to do this free of charge since February. Liechtenstein, like many other countries including Switzerland, St Kitts, Canary Islands, Antigua and Bahamas, has been a haven for wealthy people to hide their ill-gotten wealth away from the prying eyes of tax authorities. Referring to certain reports, the Transparency International (TI) mentioned that German intelligence agency —BND — has details of about 800 clients of LTG Bank — run by Liechtenstein’s ruling dynasty. “The Indian ministry of finance and PMO have, however, not shown much interest in finding out about those who have their lockers in the secret banks of Liechtenstein which prides itself in its banking system,’’ TI said. Times View Government must not think twice before accepting the offer from Germany to reveal the names of those who have illegally stashed away money in Liechtenstein. Many, if not most, of the account holders are likely to be corrupt politicians and others hiding wealth obtained by dubious means, as Transparency International has rightly pointed out. If the government is serious about cleansing public life in India, the least it can do is accept such fortuitous offers with alacrity. The citizens have a right to know who is secreting away public money into personal accounts and the government has a duty to get that information if it can.
  9. Ar ethe budget paper of the government an official secret?
  10. RTI: Education dept seeks refuge in ‘secret’ clause Chandigarh, December 17 In What can be called a mockery of the Right to Information Act, the UT Administration’s Education department has denied routine information to a local resident citing its secret nature. While the Education department has denied information to the applicant, it has allowed him to inspect the “secret” documents on any working day. Jagdish, a resident of Sector 22, Chandigarh, asked for information about the criterion adopted by the Education department to select yoga instructors. The UT Administration had recently advertised the post. Jagdish’s daughter had applied for this post. Though she had the highest marks in graduation and other requisite courses for the post, she could not get through. Her father, Jagdish, filed an application under the RTI Act. These were the questions he put to the Education department 1. What was the selection criterion for the post of yoga instructor? 2. Supply the details of marks obtained by me under different heads of the criterion 3. Kindly supply the marks obtained by the following candidates under different sub-heads of the criterion 4. Please supply me the marks obtained by other candidates in graduation and yoga instructor 5. Kindly supply how many candidates applied in OBC category and how many candidates have been selected in that category In its reply, the Education department submitted, “As the information sought by you is of a secret nature, the copies of the same cannot be supplied. However, you can inspect the documents on any working day”. The reply does not even mention the section and sub-section of the RTI Act under which the information is denied. The reply gives no legal explanation as to how the information regarding selection criterion is termed secret. “The selection criterion has to be given in advance even before the posts are advertised. They have denied me the information yet allowed me to inspect it so that I can use their documents in any court. Such misconduct certainly smells foul. My daughter deserved to be selected for the post of yoga instructor. She had secured the maximum marks,” said Jagdish. RTI: Education dept seeks refuge in ‘secret’ clause
  11. Government can decide to not share some information. But that decision can’t be made by opaque, dangerous and silly rules. EXPRESS COLUMN, Bibek Debroy, Monday, October 08, 2007 Why do civil servants have designations with the word ‘secretary’ in them? It is more than a British legacy. It is a legacy we adopted readily. The Latin root is ‘secretus’, meaning to set apart and keep withdrawn or hidden. ‘Secret’, ‘secretary’ and ‘secretariat’ have the same etymology. A civil servant’s job is to keep a secret, not part with it. In mid-1990s a friend of mine used to be a joint secretary (JS) in North Block and when he glanced through pink papers in the morning, he read the equivalent of the gossip column on the op-ed page first. That was the only way, he claimed, he got to know what other joint secretaries (and those above them) in North Block were contemplating as policy changes. Also in the mid-1990s, a Moynihan Commission on ‘Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy’ was set up in the US and a report was submitted in 1997. That report found, at the top-level alone, 400,000 new ‘secrets’ were created in the US every year. Civil servants also kept these secrets from politicians. The Commission’s conclusions were: secrecy is a form of government regulation; excessive secrecy is against national interest, because policy-makers have incomplete information; government is not accountable; and the public cannot debate policy matters because their information is also incomplete. The Moynihan Commission quoted from Max Weber’s Essays in Sociology. “Every bureaucracy seeks to increase the superiority of the professionally informed by keeping their knowledge and intentions secret... Bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament — at least in so far as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy’s interests.” Had the Moynihan Commission been British, it might also have quoted Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes Prime Minister. “The Official Secrets Act is not there to protect secrets. It’s there to protect officials.” Information is power, don’t part with information. And if you part with information, you may become accountable and reveal how stupid you have been. How does one reconcile our Official Secrets Act (OSA) of 1923 with initiatives like right to information and citizens’ charters? We do have colonial legacies in our laws, and some of them are anachronistic because they were meant to suppress ignorant natives. While the OSA is anachronistic, it is not quite colonial in that sense. There is a triple problem with the OSA. First, it is ostensibly against spying and that apparently gives it some legitimacy. Second, it reflects a 1923 mindset and doesn’t recognise advances in technology. For instance, it prevents the taking of photographs at airports (even civilian ones), a provision that no sensible country anywhere in the world has any more. If one intended to use such pictures for anti-national purposes, more efficient ways of accessing such photographs are possible. Third, the OSA doesn’t define what a secret is. So V.K. Singh is absolutely right when he says, “Even a circular for a tea party in RAW is secret. Your TA claim and cheque slip is secret. You take them out and you will be hauled up for it.” Indeed, it gets more bizarre. If something is in the public domain, it can continue to be a secret. No wonder that in the 1986 Ram Swaroop case, the court said, “Secret information is an information which may not be secret but relates to a matter the disclosure of which is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of State or friendly relation with foreign State or useful to an enemy.” Even if the secret is not a secret and is known, it can be held to be a secret under the OSA if it ‘adversely affects’ India’s security interests. This sounds like stuff straight out of Alice in Wonderland. A word can mean what I choose it to mean. As often happens in situations like these, courts aren’t culpable. Notwithstanding our common law tradition and barring constitutional issues, courts don’t create the law. They interpret it, and the problem is with the text of OSA, a problem that might have got solved had the Iftikhar Gilani case gone through its logical conclusion, instead of the government backtracking in 2003. Gilani was imprisoned under the OSA (some IPC sections were thrown in), because he had information on Indian troop deployments in Kashmir, obtained from a monograph published by a Pakistani research institute. Read Gilani’s book (My Days in Prison) to discover how the ministry of home affairs (MHA), the Delhi Police, the IB and the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) couldn’t figure out, among other things, whether a violation of the OSA was involved and whether information in public domain could adversely affect India’s security interests. A quote from the book says it all. A senior home ministry official said, Gilani had a document “published in Pakistan”. The home ministry, interestingly and instructively, withdrew the charge “for administrative reasons and in the public interest”. The arrest was in public interest and later, withdrawal was in public interest. The issue isn’t the Gilani case. But had the Gilani case proceeded, we would probably have debated the OSA. But now V.K. Singh has resurrected the debate. There can’t be any argument against the government keeping secrets as long as there is a classification system that is transparent. Developed countries have such classification systems, like top secret, secret, confidential and restricted. So apparently do we, but our classification is vague, non-transparent and arbitrary and the OSA encourages this trend. It is small comfort that China’s classification is just as vague. Becoming developed, for both India and China, means becoming more transparent, accountable and open; GDP growth alone is insufficient. Let us not also forget that the ancestor of our the OSA, the 1911 OSA in the UK, was passed at a time when there was a scare about foreign spies infiltrating society’s top echelons. That is surely not our scare now. The writer is a noted economist. IndianExpress.com :: Officials’ secret acts
  12. If the information officer is subordinate in rank of the officer who classified the information as secret of confidential, can be override the decision of his supervisor?
  13. Dear Informaticians In a survey conducted by CHRI etc it was congregated that several RTI application in the Terror, Insurgency, and Naxal prone states are regularly delayed and often denied by the Government official under the swathe of Secret and Secured Information tag. No doubt there are definition under RTI act about the informations those cannot be revealed due to Security etc raison d'être , but still the lack of awareness @ knowledge of the general public about such clauses and the initial dissuasion and discouragement by the Govt official is sufficient for him/her to withdraw any of his/her RTI application. So besides imparting knowledge to such Laymen what are the penalties for such piercing and shroud officials who alibi terrorism, insurgency and naxalism etc to loiter revealing those information to the general public which are not part of any security intimidation. Abhinav ….The Right Informed
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