THIRD PARTY INFORMATION
The PIO cannot simply deny disclosure of information under the plea of THIRD PARTY. There are certain principles under which PIO can invoke the provisions of Section-11, viz -
(1) PIO indents to disclose any information or part thereof;
(2) which (information) relates to or has been supplied by a third party;
(3) which (information) has been treated as CONFIDENTIAL by that third party; (at the time of submission - and not when an RTI Application is received and a notice issued to third party)
(4) PIO must within 5 days serve a written notice to the third party indicating therein
PIO indents to disclose the information or record or part thereof;
[ii] invite third party to make a submission in writing or orally whether the information should be disclosed;
(5) Such submission of THIRD PARTY shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information.
(6) Except in case of Trade or Commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interest of such third party
(7) The PIO has to record reasons of his decision within 40 days after receipt u/s 6
(8) The PIO has to give a copy of his notice of decision to the Third Party.
Consequently, RTI Applicant is entitled for a copy of decision so recorded by PIO being affected person. Needless to mention, PIO is duty bound to record decision on each and every aspect mentioned above - say whether it is confidential, whether it is trade secret protected by law (which law?), whether disclosure may be in public interest, whether the disclosure harm or cause injury to third party etc. Unless these steps are followed, the decision of PIO shall merely be a denial without reasons. PIO cannot merely deny information quoting Sec.11
Section-11 is only a procedure and an enabling provision. PIO cannot deny information to an applicant by invoking proviions of Section-11. The PIO cannot also deny information either treating it as 'personal' or 'third party'.
The PIO can deny an information only if it is exempted under Sec-8 or 9 of RTI Act, else the PIO is required to supply information held by the Public Authority or under the control of that public authority. Even when Section-11 procedure is invoked, the reason for denial must be found in Section-8 or 9 only. Mere quoting of Sectin-11, Section-8 and/or 9 is not enough for such denial. PIO must record reasons as to how the piece of 'information' or 'document' sought by Applicant is falling under the purview of Sec-8 or 9 and qualify for exemption.
Any information including personal information submitted by a person / party in compliance of a statutory requirement and/or which has been relied upon by public authority for making decision, invariably become a part of public document and hence in public domain unless it is expressly barred by provisions of Sec-8 and 9, eg trade secret etc.
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