Shri Sandeep Bansal vs Army Headquarters, Ministry Of … on 10 November, 2008

Central Information Commission
Shri Sandeep Bansal vs Army Headquarters, Ministry Of … on 10 November, 2008
                   Central Information Commission
       Appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2007/00972-SM dated 20.07.2007.
         Right to Information Act-2005 - Under Section (19)


                                                             Dated 10.11.2008

Appellant -      Shri Sandeep Bansal

Respondents - Army Headquarters, Ministry of Defence

Shri Sandeep Bansal, Appellant was not present during the hearing inspite
of the notice having been sent to him. He reported much after the hearing was
over. On behalf of the Respondents, the following were present:-

1. Brg. P. Chakraborty, DDG, RTI

2. Maj. M Gahlot

3. Maj. Sanjay Dabas

The brief facts of the case are as under:-

2. The Appellant had approached the CPIO in the Army Headquarters on
19.02.2007 seeking a number of information in respect of one L NK Anil Kumar.
The information largely related to his appointment as a JCO and the cancellation
of that appointed later.

3. The CPIO, in its letter dated 10.04.2007, provided the information which
the Appellant found incomplete and unsatisfactory. He filed an appeal before the
First Appellate Authority in the Army Headquarters. The Appellate Authority
decided the matter on 13.06.2007 and rejected the appeal on the ground that all
the information sought had already been provided.

4. In his appeal before the Commission, the Appellant argued that the
information provided was not adequate and complete. Each item of information
sought by the Appellant was discussed during the hearing in detail. The very first
item of information sought by the Appellant was in regard to the legal advice
rendered by the JAG Branch in the matter of L NK Anil Kumar. The Appellant
had sought photocopies of all such advice tendered by the JAG Branch. The CPIO
had held that this information was not being given as this was being held in
fiduciary relationship being an information given in trust and confidence. He had
also sought copies of the orders of Central Government/AHQ granting and
canceling the Commission of L NK Anil Kumar. The CPIO had provided copies of
order of the ADG TA on the subject. The Respondents submitted that the ADG TA
was the competent authority and acted on behalf of the Army Headquarters and,
therefore, copies of those letters were provided to the Appellant. The Appellant
further wanted to know if the Deputy Commander TA had acted against the
direction and legal advice of the Army Headquarters and whether the Army
Headquarters had authorized anyone to file reply in the Hon’ble Court. In
response, the CPIO had informed that the Deputy Commander of TA had acted in
his capacity of staff officer while initiating the case and that the reply in the
Hon’ble Court was filed by the Central Government Standing Counsel. The
Appellant had wanted to know if any action had been taken against the Deputy
Commander TA and OC, GH for ignoring the written directions of Army
Headquarter and the JAG Branch. The CPIO had informed that no action was
required to be taken against the said officials. The Appellant wanted to know if
the Army Headquarters or the MOD had issued instructions to Military
establishments to ignore legal notice sent by lawyers in certain circumstances.
The CPIO informed that no such instruction was received and legal notices, as
and when received, were dealt with as per law.

DECISION

5. After going through the submissions made by the Appellant in his appeal
memo and the replies already given by the CPIO, we feel that except on the
question of copies of the legal advice, the Public Authority has already provided
all the information on the rest of the items. We find the information provided, to
be adequate and there is no further need to provide any more information on this
account now. This leaves us to consider if the ground on which the copies of legal
advice were denied is just and as per the provisions of the RTI Act. The legal
advice has been rendered in this case by the JAG Branch. The legal opinion
rendered by the JAG Branch was in the course of discharge of his duty. The
service matters of a L NK are not matters of great and sensitive nature, the
disclosure of which would have any adverse impact on public interest. To claim
that the opinion given by the JAG Branch is held by the concerned authority in a
fiduciary relationship would be stretching the concept of the fiduciary
relationship too far. Opinion given as a part of discharge of official duties and
held in the official records is information as defined under the RTI Act. In view of
this, we direct the First Appellate Authority/CPIO to provide copies of the legal
advice rendered by the JAG Branch in this case to the Appellant within 15
working days from the receipt of this order. Compliance of our order be reported
to us soon thereafter.

6. The appeal is, thus, disposed off. Copies of this order be given free of cost
to the parties.

Sd/-

(Satyananda Mishra)
Information Commissioner

Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied
against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the
CPIO of this Commission.

Sd/-

(Vijay Bhalla)
Assistant Registrar

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