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Alexei Lazarov vs. Council of Ministers

Facts:
On 31 July 2001, Mr. Alexei Lazarov (journalist from The Capital Weekly) served an application in writing for access to information in the form of a copy of the verbatim report from a meeting of the Council of Ministers. The application was served to the Director of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Council of Ministers.

On 13 March 2001, he received an answer in writing with a refusal to grant him access to the requested information.
After consultation with AIP, the citizen appealed against the refusal to grant him access to information issued by the Head of the Domestic Policy Department of the Council of Ministers.

The case was registered with SAC. The case was scheduled for 2 p.m. on 11 December 2001.

Arguments of the Parties:
The arguments in the appeal were that the verbatim report from the meeting of the Council of Ministers was not a document without any significance of its own within the meaning of Art. 13, para 2, subpara 1 of APIA because it did not feature on the exhaustive list of the types of documents under that provision. The provision of Art. 13, para 2, subpara 1 is not imperative; it authorises the respective person responsible for ensuring access to information to decide whether to grant access or not on the basis of the specific facts. Secondly, the meetings of the Council of Ministers are public (Art. 125 of the Standing Orders of the Council of Ministers) and hence the requested information had to be granted access to in the absence of any grounds for restriction of the right of access to information under Art. 7, para 1 of APIA.

In the opinion of the Head of the Domestic Policy Department of the Council of Ministers, the access to such information (document without any significance of its own) is restricted under Art. 37, para 1, subpara 1 in conjunction with Art. 13, para 2, subpara 1 of APIA.

Issue of Interest:
Is the verbatim report from a meeting of the Council of Ministers within the scope of Art. 13, para 2, subpara 1 of APIA or not.

Conclusions:
Each member of the Council of Ministers represents a body of excetuive power individually and the Council of Ministers as a whole is also a body of executive power. The activity of Ministers in the course of their participation in the meetings of the Council of Ministers is an essential and indispensable element of the process of adopting and issuing acts of the Council of Ministers rather than giving an opinion or recommendation. Although the information contained in the verbatim reports from the meetings of the Council of Ministers is administrative information, it does not fall within the scope of Art. 13, para 2, subpara 1 of APIA.

 


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English Version • Last Update: 25.01.2002• © 1999 Copyright by Interia & AIP