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Par panel findings cannot be withheld indefinitely

New Delhi: Recommendations of Parliamentary committees cannot be kept out of citizens` reach "indefinitely" even if they have not been tabled in the House, the Central Information Commission has held.

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra gave the order while directing the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to disclose the recommendations, on the implementation of the Right to Information Act, of the Parliamentary Standing Committee which have not been tabled in the House even after three years.

The case relates to an RTI application by Pune-based activist Vihar Dhurve who sought to know from the Secretariat the recommendations and findings of the Committee but the information was denied to him.

The Secretariat said since the recommendations of the Committee have not been placed before the Parliament, its disclosure under the transparency law would be breach of Parliamentary privileges.

During the hearing before CIC Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who was present from Dhurve`s side, it was argued that if the authorities chose not to place the Committee`s recommendations before the House even after three years,?the information could not be denied indefinitely.

Agreeing with the view, Mishra said, "The Parliament of India is the highest law-making body. It has to be a model in implementing the laws it makes… Just because the competent authority has not decided to place it before Parliament even after lapse of about three years, it cannot indefinitely hold it back from citizens."

Mishra further said in his orders, "It cannot be anybody`s argument that just because authorities decide not to act on the findings of the committee, it could be held back from the citizens by invoking one or the other provisions of the RTI Act for an indefinite period."

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