CIC proposes to make public the travel details of Union ministers
Moneylife Digital Team 01 April 2011

Central Information Commission gives directive on an RTI query by an applicant who was directed to individual ministries

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has said that information relating to air travel by union ministers-both domestic and international-should be maintained centrally by the cabinet secretariat.

The CIC made this observation on a Right to Information query by Delhi-based resident Subhash Chandra Agrawal, seeking information concerning air travel by Union ministers in the last three years.

The CIC said, "While we tend to agree with the submissions made by the respondents, we think that it would be in the interest of transparency if some key information about domestic and international travel by Union ministers could be maintained centrally in the cabinet secretariat itself, especially since the pay and accounts office under it is responsible for all accounting details for payment of the salary and reimbursement of their travel expenditure."

"We direct the central public information officer (CPIO) to bring this to the notice of the competent authority in the cabinet secretariat for appropriate action," the CIC said.

While hearing the matter, the respondents had clarified that "the desired information was not maintained in the form in which it had been sought and that a very large volume of records and documents would have to be scrutinised in order to collate the information and that would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority."

Instead, it was argued that "the appellant could approach individual ministries and departments for the desired information, since travel details including the expenditure incurred on both domestic and international travel of ministers of the union government were available only with the respective ministry or department and not with the cabinet secretariat."

The CPIO had earlier informed Mr Agrawal that the information which he was seeking was spread across a number of ministries and departments of the central government and further, that he could seek the desired information from the respective CIPO. This decision was also endorsed by the appellate authority.

Speaking to Moneylife, Mr Agrawal said, "It is a well thought decision. Otherwise, such voluminous information couldn't be available. If they develop a software and put all these details on their website, anyone will be in a position to access it and thus there will be more transparency."

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