child privacy under rti actIn an unprecedented decision, CIC imposed a penalty over RTI Applicant even though the RTI Act do not provide for the same. Central Information Commission while deciding the case recorded that “Though the RTI Act has not provided to impose penalty against the RTI applicant, the Commission record its contempt against RTI Applicant for misusing the RTI Act against the school child and imposed a penalty of Re. 10/­ which is to be paid to the Principal of the School”.

Commission,  also directed the then CPIO and the Principal of the School to show cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed on both of them and disciplinary action be initiated against both of them for not complying with the provision of Section 11 of RTI Act and causing breach of the privacy of the child and his parents. The Commission directs the Principal and CPIO to show cause why compensation of Rs 1000 each be paid to the child for the loss they caused by breaching his privacy.

The Commission holds that information exempted under section 8(1)(j) was disclosed and because of which the right to privacy of the child and his parents was violated by the Principal and CPIO. The Commission directs the CPIO and Principal not to disclose the personal information of the students to any person, much less to his so called relatives without following the procedure under Section 11 of the RTI Act.

CIC imposed penalty over both PIO and RTI Applicant

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of R.K Jain vs. Union of India [SLP (C) No.22609 of 2012] dated 16.04.2013 had Highlighted the importance of Section 11 of the RTI Act.

Read more about Privacy under RTI Act here: What is Privacy under RTI Act. You can download the decision here: Lalit Kapur v. PIO, Deputy Director of Education (North East­B)

Appellant had sought for information regarding a student of R.D Public School. He wanted copy of the transfer certificate of class XI on the basis of which the student got admission in class XII, details of the school no./roll no./school registration no. and date of admission of the school etc

CIC noted that it is interrogative in nature and RTI Applicant is fishing to find basis to embarrass the child or his family not with a good motive and for some unspecified purpose, which is certainly not ‘public purpose’. The CPIO committed breach of S 11 of RTI Act and ignored the order of Supreme Court of India in the above mentioned case. The CPIO should have considered the question of welfare of the child from the relatives who were in family dispute with the parents of the child.

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  1. The CIC is neither a court and nor a tribunal. Its power is limited to the framework of RTI Act. It can either allow or reject an appeal and in doing so, may impose penalty if and only if it is provided elsewhere in the Act. Its authority should flow from the statute. What if the applicant fails to pay the penalty? Can any authority including the courts enforce it? If any order is passed, it must be capable of being enforced. Otherwise, it becomes mockery. CIC never enjoys any constitutional power to pass such orders in the circumstances of each case. Does the CIC forget or could not lay its hands on the verdict of the SC in a Karnataka IC appeal where lakh penalty has been saddled on the commissioner?

  2. I believe that CIC has exceeded its brief.

    It would be of accademic interest to study how many of IC’s (SIC &CIC) decisions are being misused by CPIOs and PIOs to avoid providing information that might establish their or their superiors’ involvement in corruption.

  3. The CIC decision to impose penalty, even though a token one, is prejudiced, unfair, partial, influenced and subjective decision; and is considered bad in law.
    CIC is not to peep into the “motive” of the RTI Applicant. Section 6(1) bars it. And all the information sought by the RTI Applicants may not necessarily be for the purpose of “Larger Public Interest”. Seeking Information for private purposes is not barred under the Act. The only power the CIC can exercise against a RTI Applicant is to deny him the access to information if the same is exempted under Section 8 and 9, quoting the reasons of such denial. The Right to Information Act, 2005 gives a Right to citizens to seek any information to bring about the Transparency, Accountability, Curb Corruption and Human Right Violation cases.

    The “Third Party” creteria has to be applied by the PIO and not by the RTI Applicant. If PIO has erred, so is the CIC. Its is not the duty of the information seeker to apply section 11 while seeking the information. He is rather to contest it if PIO take “Tird Party” course and deny information.

    In the instant case the CIC has gone beyond his brief and this decision of penalizing the RTI Applicant is ultra-virus.

  4. Dear Members and Niraj

    I welcome all comments against the order of CIC.
    Have you ever thought about :
    Why a Corrupt Minister A. Raja , Kalmadi etc. are living peacefully ever after stealing Millions of Money of People of India ?
    Why a rapist aged 16 (Nirbhaya Case) is living freely now ?
    Why murderers of Rajiv Gandhi will not be hanged ?
    Why people try to do crime , even after they are aware of the Constitution and its complications ?

    just because these type of thinking. Lawyers in India Play with the Constitution rather than respecting it. and in this case , you are playing the role of those lawyers.

    As we (including me) do not know about the whole case , we should not blame CIC . And as CIC is very respectful agency of the Govt., we need to have faith in this.

    Commissioners in CIC are not Schoolkids and as we know this , we must have faith in the commission.

    and moreover , Why people didn’t oppose when High Court released Salman Khan ?……. hahaha we know that shit reason

  5. What if the applicant were not to pay the fine? How can the CIC enforce the penalty on an RTI applicant being a private citizen?
    Authorities, government or judicial, should not exceed their briefs when they have no remedy to enforce their orders against defiant litigants.

  6. Hon’ble IC SA erred by imposing penalty on the Appellant. He is widely known for his good decisions. But, the Moon has spots too. This is one of the spots in his bunch of sagacious decisions.

  7. The public interest in the information sought by RTI PMO Railway Section 7 ( 1 ) within the ordered letter pending in DLW , Varanasi Theme – in 1956 when common land acquired by diesel railroad locomotive, Varanasi was founded, what ordinary people at that time was allowed?

  8. I think IC took a correct decision on basis of the situation .
    We must also remember that IC a Justice of Highest Body under RTI and Justice must be done by all means.

    In this case , appellant made an application with the purpose to harass someone / relative and CPIO was not aware of complications of the act and acted against RTI Act then it becomes responsibility of Information Commissioner to do justice with the parties.

    1. One can wonder how can the Ld. CIC know the intention of the applicant. The intention might be to harras but the big question is can the Ld. CIC act without jurisdiction and powers not vested in him?
      In the name of justice no one can act or penalise if he does not posses power enforced by law in him.
      A very bad logic given by dear friend Mr. Amit and no one can agree.

  9. Action of CIC Indicates the DICTATORIAL ATTITUDE and is not a welcome measure.CIC shall not exercise the powers which has not been vested with them.What is next if the Applicant does not pay the fine by defying the order not supported by the Act ?

  10. The RTI Act very clearly maintains, and this is verbatim:

    “(2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.”

    Has the RTI Act been changed or amended lately to justify the order?

  11. What is the meaning of the decision ?
    Applicant may seek information without stating the reasons.
    It is upto PIO either to provide the information or deny information stating the clause.
    Simple filing of application and seeking information is not a crime and discretion is left to PIO.
    Now, because PIO has provided the information, can Hon IC fine applicant ?
    Imposing penalty on applicant for Rs.10/- is a tactful decision.
    Now, appellant do not like to spend thousands of rupees for filing writ against the decision and simply pay the fine, to make a full stop, as he may also get such strictures from HC.
    Once the meager penalty is paid, the decision becomes binding, and precedent.
    Can a highly learned law professor can take law into his hands and knowingly exercise the powers not vested in him ? Is this not a bad precedent ?
    (How the applicant uses the information, whether discretion of PIO is there in providing third party information ultimately, whether the specific information is on Public Authority’s record or not, What type of harassment is possible with this information are different issues. But because some thing is assumed by IC can he penalise the appellant or not is the issue. )

    1. It is certainly a very bad precedent by CIC of imposing penality, though meagre, to the RTI applicant. There is no provision in the Act for such penality to be imposed on any applicant. Certainly CIC has acted beyond its power and jurisdiction.
      Secondly, it is the sole discretion to decide whether the information asked in any way jeporidise the interest or privacy of third party and whether the third party be asked by invoking Section 11 or not.
      If such is the case then it would be rather impossible to get any information and will be a failure of the spirit of RTI Act.