Whenever information relating to or supplied by the third party is sought under RTI Act, PIOs refuse stating that information pertains to third party. Some PIOs issue notice to third-party u/s 11.1 and if the third party does not permit, PIOs decline supply of information stating that third party has not permitted or has objected to supplying of information.
NOTE ON THIRD PARTY INFORMATION- REFUSAL BY PIO under RTI ACT
Whenever information relating to or supplied by third party is sought under RTI Act, PIOs refuse stating that information pertains to third party. Some PIOs issue notice to third party u/s 11.1 and if third party does not permit, PIOs decline supply of information stating that third party has not permitted or has objected to supply of information. First appeal needs to be filed based on following points under such circumstances:
01. Third party should have treated information as confidential while supplying the information. If it is not treated as confidential by third party section 11 will not come into operation.
02. Even when party has treated information as confidential, it has to be disclosed if larger public interest is involved outweighing in importance any possible harm to interest of third party. [This is not applicable to information relating to trade or commercial secrets protected by any law].
03. PIO does not require permission or NOC from third party. He has to give third party opportunity to be heard orally or in writing. He should then finally decide whether information should be revealed or not.
04. Even in case of third party, PIO has to deny information only under sections 8 or 9 as provided in section 7.1. PIO is also required to justify how he came to the conclusion that section 8 or 9 is applicable for such denial. Similarly the third party should have objected to disclosure only under section 8 or 9, justifying non-disclosure.
05. Information of the third party which is already in public domain has to be revealed without complying with section 11.
06. Denial of information just because it relates to or is supplied by third party and /or treated as confidential by third party, without assigning one or more reasons mentioned in sub-sections of 8.1 or 9 is in gross violation of provisions and spirit of RTI Act.
07. Section 11 comes into play only if PIO first intends to reveal information subject to the hearing point of view of the third party. If PIO does not want to reveal, section 11 does not come into play.
08. The applicant is entitled to have a copy of say of third party or minutes of oral hearing by PIO based on which PIO has decided to deny disclosure. This will enable the applicant to file the first appeal. This is true of first appeal proceedings also.
09. PIO is also bound to decide whether information supplied by third party can be treated as confidential by third party. The third party has to justify why information supplied by it should be treated as confidential.
10. When information per se or ex facie cannot be regarded as confidential, then the procedure under section 11 is not to be followed.
11. As regards information relating to third party which is not supplied by third party, but created by public authority, PIO should invoke section 11 only if third party would be justified in treating information as confidential.
12. Any information which is older than 20 years as on date of RTI application relating to any occurrence, event or matter of a third party has to be disclosed by PIO, without reference to third party.
13. Information generated by govt employees as part of his service cannot be treated as third-party information.
14. Refer CIC decisions as under:
- CIC/SG/A/2011/002117/15548 dated 11-11-2011
- CIC/AT/A/2009/000821 dated 16-03- 2010.
- CIC/SM/A/2011/001687 dated 10-10-2011
- CIC/AT/A/2007/01297 dated 29-02-2008.
and following judgments:
- Dated 26-11-2010 of Hon’ble HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT in SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION No. 7538 of 2010 [para 8]
- Dated 30-09-2011 of Hon’ble HIGH COURT OF DELHI in LPA No. 719/2010
- Dated 25-06-2007 of Madurai Bench of Hon’ble MADRAS HIGH COURT
- In WRIT PETITION (MD) No.5427 of 2007 and M.P. (MD) Nos.1, 2 and 3 of 2007
It is advisable to attach this note signed by the applicant with RTI application seeking information of third party, so that PIO does not reply on flimsy grounds.
Please also refer - http://www.rtiindia.org/blogs/entry/292-rights-third-party-under-rti-act.html