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  1. Mere pendency of investigation / enquiry is not sufficient justification by itself for withholding the information. It must be shown by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) that the disclosure of the information would 'impede' or even on a lesser threshold 'hamper' or 'interfere' with the enquiry. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its decision dated 03/12/2007 [WP© 3114/2007, Bhagat Singh Vs. CIC & Anrs] has held as under:- “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 a haven for dodging demands for information.” Information cannot be denied on mere pendency of investigation The case citation can be read here: Mr. Y. N. Chaubey Vs M/o Labour & Employment
  2. The Patient has a right to detailed medical records and Hospital Authorities have a duty to provide the same under Right to Information Act, 2005, Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the Medical Council Act and world medical ethics. The Central Information Commission recommended Public Authority of Hospital to develop a time frame mechanism of disclosure of medical records to patients or their relatives with safeguards for privacy and confidentiality of the patient. Extending principle derived from Articles 21 and 19 of our Constitution, a consumer of medical services too has a right to know what treatment was given to him/her, what were the reports of diagnostic tests, what were the opinions expressed by doctors or specialists, why he/she was kept in hospital etc. Consumer’s right to information extends both to the products and services, including medical service. Right to detailed medical records The Medical Council of India has imposed an obligation on Hospitals as per the regulations notified on 11th March 2002, amended up to December 2010 to maintain the medical record and provide patient access to it. 1.3.2. If any request is made for medical records either by the patients/authorised attendant or legal authorities involved, the same may be duly acknowledged and documents shall be issued within the period of 72 hours. Hon’ble Kerala High Court recognizing the above principle in Rajappan Vs. Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science and Technology [iLR2004(2)Kerala150] had observed that It is also to be noticed that Regulations do not provide any immunity for any medical record to be retained by any medical practitioner of the hospital from being given to the patient. On the other hand it is expressly provided that a patient should be given medical records in Appendix 3 with supporting documents. Therefore in the absence of any immunity either under the Regulations or under any other law, the respondent­ Hospital is bound to give photocopies of the entire documents of the patient. There should be absolute transparency with regard to the treatment of a patient and a patient or victim's relative is entitled to get copies of medical records. After making a detailed examination, Central Information Commission holds that the patient has a right to detailed medical records about treatment under Section 3 of the RTI Act and also under Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Is it “life and liberty” issue? The Commission holds that information regarding medical records especially when patient is disputing her stay and treatment is concerning life and liberty of the appellant. Whether claim of Sec 8 (1)(h) exception valid? It is mandatory for the public authority to show that the disclosure of the information would in fact, impede the process of investigation. During the hearing at CIC, neither the PIO nor the Appellate Authority tried to substantiate points as to how the disclosure of her own medical record would hamper the process of investigation. They did not even attempt to explain what the charge against her was and what investigation was pending. An empty claim of exception under section 8(1)(h) cannot entitle the authority to refuse the information for which the appellant has right both under Right to Information Act, 2005 and Consumer Protection Act 1986. In view of the above, this Commission did not accept the contention of the respondent authority that the information sought by the appellant was exempt under section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act as this is with reference to the appellant’s life and liberty, who was kept in detention by the respondent/institute and she has every right to have the information about the treatment meted out to her during her detention in the respondent/institute. It is not third party information. More so, the respondent/institute cannot invoke the ground of exemption under section 8(1)(h), as there is no evidence to show that any inquiry pending against the appellant. The Public Authority being an Institute/hospital has a legal responsibility to share the information about her treatment and medical check up etc. The Commission was of the view that the patient’s right to obtain his medical record is not only protected under RTI Act, but also under the regulation of Indian Medical Council, which is based on world medical ethics, and also as a ‘consumer’ under Consumer Protection Act, 1986 as explained above. It is the duty of the doctor/Hospital to develop a mechanism whereby the copy of patients medical record from his joining to his discharge be provided to him or his legal representative even without him asking as a matter of routine procedure at the time of discharge as directed by Bombay High Court in above referred case. The Commission exercising its powers under Section 25(5) of RTI Act, recommended the Public Authority IHBAS to develop a mechanism for disclosure of medical records to patients or his relatives in a time frame with proper protection to confidentiality and privacy as ordained by RTI Act, preferably in the lines of judgment of Bombay High Court. The Commission recommends that when a patient or his near relative demands from the Hospital or the doctor the copies of the case papers, it is necessary for the Hospital authorities and the doctors concerned to furnish copies of such case papers to the patient or his near relative. The case citation can be read here: Ms.Nisha Priya Bhatia Vs. Institute of HB&AS, GNCTD, File No.CIC/AD/A/2013/001681­SA dated 23­-07­-2014 You can discuss this decision at our forum here! This is an extract of the decision available on the CIC public website, and is meant for generating interest in our readers only. For the true detailed and authentic copy you must download the decision from the CIC website!
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