Through this Order, the commission has settled the issue as to how records are to be classified and declassified.
The commission observed that a public body cannot deny access to any finalised report because parts of records/information of the requested information fall within the scope of exceptions mentioned in Section 16 of the Act. If the public interest warrants the disclosure of a report, though some of its part may contain information which should be exempted from disclosure on reasonable grounds, those parts can be severed and the rest should be made public as required under Section 16 (1) (i) of the Act.
The commission held that reports cannot be shrouded in secrecy for eternity. The commission maintained that after every twenty years, record of public bodies should be made public.
The commission observed: George Santayana rightly stated that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. That is why, like other nations, our honourable Parliamentarians, have included the provision to declassify records after 20 years so that nation could remember its past, discuss and debate decisions taken in a certain context by politicians and state functionaries.
Good governance in the country can only be ensured if we graduate from post-colonial era where secrecy has been a norm and provision of information exception to the modern era wherein running of the business of the country is conducted in a manner that transparency becomes a norm and secrecy an exception. Therefore, it is solemn responsibility of those running the affairs of the state to create balance between protecting information from disclosure, on justifiable ground through recorded reasons, and, proactively sharing of information in public interest which has hitherto been kept shrouded in the vail of secrecy.