New Delhi: The issue of black money deposited in Swiss banks has once again drawn flak, this time the target being the Cabinet Secretariat. The Central Information Commission has rapped the Cabinet Secretariat for not providing details of black money deposited in Swiss banks to an information seeker and asked it to take "more pains" in dealing with RTI applications in such specific cases.

The case related to an RTI application filed by one Promod Chawla who sought to know from the Cabinet Secretariat details of black money deposited by Indians in Swiss banks.

His application was transferred by the Secretariat to External Affairs Ministry for providing information.

The MEA said it does not have any information about the issue after which Chawla got back to the CIC with an appeal.

During the hearing, the Cabinet Secretariat said as per the government instruction, "all transactions...with foreign countries were to be conducted only through that Ministry (MEA) and, therefore, it was rightly presumed by the CPIO that the desired information would be available only there."

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra found the argument of the Secretariat "untenable".

"The information sought in this case is about money deposited by Indians in banks abroad. The Cabinet Secretariat is expected to know which ministry of the government could have such information and, therefore should have transferred the RTI application to that ministry," he said.

Mishra said even if the contention of the Secretariat that MEA is government's interface with foreign governments is accepted "in such specific cases" it should have taken "more pains" to find out the exact ministry which should have information and transferred the application to that ministry.

"The denial by the MEA of having any information in this regard only proved that there are other authorities within the government which might be independently dealing with foreign governments for securing such information," he said while directing the Cabinet Secretariat to transfer the application to the correct ministry which should provide the information within the stipulated period of one month.

(Agencies)