The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Centre’s Empowered Group Sub-Committee on Oxygen to reveal their discussions’ records and other records relating to oxygen management for COVID-19 pandemic within the next 10 days.
In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Sourav Das, a journalist, he raised concerns that the Centre has been denying information on its COVID-19 preparation, policy, and material based on which decisions are taken to the public by citing reasons of “national interest”.
The appellant had earlier filed a Right to Information (RTI) application in the month of April and was met with a cursory reply on June 11 which lacked substantiation. In view of this, the appellant filed his PIL.
The CIC held that denial of records of empowered committees due to reasons of “national security” is “unjustified” and “far-fetched”. The court also noted that the Chief Public Information Officers ought to be more careful while rejecting pleas of “life and liberty” and avoid multiple appeals by responding in a reasonable time-frame.
Under the directions of the CIC, all government records on COVID-19 management are to be made public. The CPIO are also directed to revisit all the points filed by Das in his RTI application and provide maximum information in keeping with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.