Guidelines For The First Appellate Authorities

Information Exempted From Disclosure

Sub-section (1) of section 8 and section 9 of the Act enumerate the categories of information which is exempt from disclosure. Sub-section (2) of section 8, however, provides that information exempted under sub-section(1) or exempted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure overweight the harm to the protected interest. Further, sub-section (3) of section 8 provides that information exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1), except as provided in clauses (a), (c) and (i) thereof, would cease to be exempted after 20 years from the date of occurrence of the related event etc.

It may be noted that section 8 (3) of the Act does not require the public authorities to retain records for indefinite period. The records should be retained as per the record retention schedule applicable to the concerned public authority. Information generated in a file may survive in the form of an OM or a letter or in any other even after destruction of the file/record. The Act requires furnishing of information so available after the lapse of 20 years even if such information was exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1) of Section 8. It means that the information which, in normal course, is exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Act, would cease to be exempted if 20 years have lapsed after occurrence of the incident to which the information relates. However, the following types of information would continue to be exempt and there would be no obligation, even after lapse of 20 years, to give any citizen -

  1. information disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence;
  2. information the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature; or
  3. Cabinet papers including records of deliberation of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other Officers subject to the conditions gives in proviso to clause (i) of sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Act.

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