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  1. [caption id=attachment_240" align="alignright" width="203] disclosure of information to third party[/caption] If the profile of the person seeking Information, in light of other attending circumstances, leads to the construction that under the pretext of serving public interest, such person is aiming to settle personal score against the third party, it cannot be said that public interest warrants disclosure of information to third party. The Public Information Officer under Right to Information Act, while dealing with the information relating to or supplied by the third party, has to constantly bear in mind that the RTI Act does not become a tool in the hands of a busy body to settle a personal score. The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide decision dated 13/12/20012 Bihar Public Service Commission vs. Sayyed Hussain Abbas Rizvi & Anr [Civil appeal No. 9052 of 2012] has held that clause 8(1)(g) can come into play with any kind of relationship. It requires that where the disclosure of such information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purpose, the information need not be provided. In other words if in the opinion of the concerned authority there is danger to life or possibility of danger to physical safety, the CPIO would be entitled to bring such case within the exemption of Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act. Husband (RTI Applicant) has filed several RTI applications with the BSNL seeking various information relating to Lady employee of BNSL with whom he appears to have a matrimonial dispute and in response to communications to her by the CPIO under Section 11 of the RTI Act, she has objected to the disclosure stating that the information is of personal nature, does not involve any public activity or interest and would cause unwarranted invasion of her privacy. She has also contended that the appellant, who asserts himself to be her husband, has criminal intent and there is a threat to her physical safety, she has claimed exemption under Section 8 (1) (g) of the RTI Act. Disclosure of information to third party Central Information Commission while deciding the case noted that "In the facts and circumstances of the matter at hand the appellant’s allegations against his estranged wife of criminal activity, owning assets disproportionate to her known sources of income, etc only demonstrate his personal bias rather than any public purpose warranting denial of statutory exemption as available to the respondent. It being so, we hold that the information sought is exempt under Section 8 (1) (g), & (j) of the RTI Act." In one such other case CIC has ruled that the fact that the appellant is the husband does not alter this legal position as the husband and wife are two separate legal entities in law and therefore, Sec.11(1) of the RTI Act is applicable. Also on another case available at our Law segment, CIC refused attempt by husband to get hold of information about his wife’s locker citing section 8(1)(d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act, as he is the third party. In this present case Mr. Alok Sharma Vs BNSL , CIC/BS/A/2013/001026/5102 12 May 2014 the information was not disclosed to husband and it was exempt under Section 8(1) (g), & (j) of the RTI Act. The decision is available at the CIC website here! You should also read various discussions regarding Third Party Information under RTI at our forums. Do you have anything to add to this case decision, please post it at comments below.
  2. Can a citizen who is an ineligible candidate and had agitated his grievance before Hon’ble Minister and the CAT but failed to get any relief is disqualified from getting information under RTI? The answer is NO. Can CPIO introduce new reasons for Denial of Information under RTI? Guess what! The CPIO thinks so, but thankfully not the CIC. Once an applicant seeks information as defined in Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, the same cannot be denied to the information seeker except on any of the grounds mentioned in Section 8 or 9 of the RTI Act, the Public Information Officer or the First Appellate Authority cannot add or introduce new reasons for Denial or grounds for rejecting furnishing of information. An RTI Applicant who is officiating SDI(P) East Gurgaon and a qualified Postmaster Grade-1 have taken the promotional Departmental exam of IPO-2011 on 15 and 16 October 2011 and reexamination for Paper-III on 29/01/2012 from Haryana Circle, Ambala. He wanted following information related to this: 1- No. of marks obtained by me in each paper. 2- OMR Copy of answer sheets of each papers with key. In nutshell he had appeared in a departmental examination and needed copies of his answer sheets and the marks obtained by him in each of the papers. The CPIO denied the information stating that the he is an ineligible candidate and had agitated his grievance before Hon’ble Minister and the CAT but failed to get any relief. Introduce new reasons for Denial When the matter came before CIC for hearing, a simple query from the Commission under which clause of the RTI Act exemption is being claimed for denying the information the CPIO could not give any satisfactory response. The Commission stated that: The appellant is seeking his own answer sheets and the marks obtained by him in a departmental examination in which he had participated. The CPIO is unable to show any exemption under the stated provisions of Section 8 or 9 of the RTI Act under which the information can be withheld. It being so, there is no ground for denying the information and the CPIO should furnish the same to the appellant within 7 days from the date of receipt of this order. Here are the discussion threads at Forum containing the information about Denial of Information and you can read into many such discussion how CPIO sometimes introduce new reasons for Denial.
  3. In an RTI filed with Post office at Bihar, an RTI applicant has asked CPIO to supply 100 Indian Postal Orders (IPO) of Rs 10/- each. It was denied by the Post office, and the matter went up to Central Information Commission (CIC). CIC decided that RTI Act does not casts any obligation on the CPIO to supply IPOs which are products available for sale at post offices. The CPIO, under the RTI Act, is required to furnish only information/documents as available on record. Thus the RTI applicant was informed that he can purchase IPOs from any Post Office. Earlier CPIO has contended that "This request for supply of IPOs through RTI does not fall within the definition of “information” as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act." Thus the CPIO has not provided the desired information and returned the banker’s cheque filed along with the RTI application. If you have any questions regarding Right to Information, you can post your query at our forum here! Post Office cannot sell IPO through RTI We have compiled comprehensive information about IPO's at our sister site NationalConcerns.com here: What is Indian Postal Order What is Indian Postal Order?A service for remitting small amount of money from one place to another through Post Offices. Indian Postal Orders provide a convenient means of transmitting small sums of money by post. The Indian Postal Orders are available in all the Post Offices across India What details are to be written on the IPO?IPO has two parts as a cheque has. Counterfoil & Foil. Foil part is sent/handed over to payee as money remittance & counter foil is kept by the remitter as a proofYou need to fill in: Name of the Payee (person to whom the payment is to be made) Office of Payment (Post Office which is most convenient to the Payee. If not known then district, town or city maybe specified. It is not mandatory to put this in, but is useful if the IPO is lost) Also fill in the same details on the counterfoil. Tear the counterfoil and keep it, before you submit the IPO with the application. The full blog post may be read here: What Is Indian Postal Order? The citation is available on the CIC website here: Dr. Guni Dayal Kumar Sinha Vs CPMG Bihar You can discuss this decision at our forum here! This is an extract of the decision available on the CIC public website, and is meant for generating interest in our readers only. For the true detailed and authentic copy you must download the decision from the CIC website!
  4. Central Information Commission in one of the decision opined that "as far as possible give the appellant including the third party, if any, an opportunity of hearing specially if he so requests, without forgetting that the essence of RTI Act is to provide complete, correct and timely information to the appellant." You can read the RTI Act here! CIC further states that "It is needless to say that rendering an opportunity of hearing to the parties is a fundamental principle of jurisprudence. It is conducive to fairness and transparency and accords with the principles of natural justice. An opportunity of hearing to the parties also brings greater clarity to the adjudicating authorities." It noted that "This Commission always gives an opportunity of hearing to the parties but this does not appear to be usually done by the FAAs, as probably there are practical difficulties therein, partly arising out of the number of appeals involved and partly due to the limited time frame in which the matters are required to be decided." Hearing during second appeal Earlier the RTI applicant has stated that inspite of specific request the First Appellate Authority decided his appeal without giving him any opportunity of hearing which is against the basic principles of natural justice. The decision can be read from here! You can discuss this decision at our forum here! This is an extract of the decision available on the CIC public website, and is meant for generating interest in our readers only. For the true detailed and authentic copy you must download the decision from the CIC website!
  5. When an RTI applicant asked for the Service book of Postal Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS) employees, he got the response that there is no service book maintained for the GDS employees. The CPIO informed that "no service book is maintained for GDS as they are part time workers", although the Hon'ble Supreme Court have held that Gramin Dak Sevaks are holders of civil post outside the regular civil service. As per the Government rules, there is no parity in terms and conditions of employment between the Central Government regular employees and Gramin Dak Sevaks. The Government treats Gramin Dak Sevaks and regular employees of the Government to two distinct and separate groups. Whereas Government employee works for 8 hours, Gramin Dak Sevak work on a part time basis ranging from three hours to five hours per day and are discharged after attaining 65 years of age. If you have any questions, you can post it over our forums here! Legal Status of the Gramin Dak Sevaks: The Gramin Dak Sevaks are governed by separate set of Conduct and Employment Rules, 2001 which are non-statutory in nature and not framed under Article 309 of the Constitution. They are not covered by Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, Fundamental & Supplementary Rules, Leave Rules, Central Civil Services (Recognition of Service Association) Rules, 1993 which apply only to regular Government servants. They are paid Time Related Continuity Allowance on a pro-rata basis. They are also paid discharge benefits like ex-gratia gratuity & severance amount at the time of discharge. The women Gramin Dak Sevak are, now, paid maternity grant equivalent to 3 months Time Related Continuity Allowance for the birth of two children. Gramin Dak Sevaks are also eligible for 20 days paid leave in a year. More details can be read from India Post website here! The Decision by which the RTI applicant got the information that No Service book is maintained for GDS employees can be found here!
  6. Mere pendency of investigation / enquiry is not sufficient justification by itself for withholding the information. It must be shown by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) that the disclosure of the information would 'impede' or even on a lesser threshold 'hamper' or 'interfere' with the enquiry. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its decision dated 03/12/2007 [WP© 3114/2007, Bhagat Singh Vs. CIC & Anrs] has held as under:- “13. Access to information, under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule and exemptions under Section 8, the exception. Section 8 being a restriction on this fundamental right, must therefore is to be strictly construed. It should not be interpreted in manner as to shadow the very right itself. Under Section 8, exemption from releasing information is granted if it would impede the process of investigation or the prosecution of the offenders. It is apparent that the mere existence of an investigation process cannot be a ground for refusal of the information; the authority withholding information must show satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information would hamper the investigation process. Such reasons should be germane, and the opinion of the process being hampered should be reasonable and based on some material. Sans this consideration, Section 8(1)(h) and other such provisions would become a haven for dodging demands for information.” Information cannot be denied on mere pendency of investigation The case citation can be read here: Mr. Y. N. Chaubey Vs M/o Labour & Employment
  7. BSNL delayed responding to an RTI applicant by more than one and half years which had sought to know the BSNL complaint redressal mechanism itself and then BSNL provided information a day before the case was listed for hearing at Central Information Commission. Central Information Commission rightly ordered compensation for the inconvenience caused due to non reply of an RTI. CIC found that BSNL could not reply to the RTI application and therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in the CIC in Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act directed the department BSNL to compensate RTI applicant by an amount of Rs.750/- for the inconvenience and detriment caused to him. Under Section 19 (8) (b), "the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered;" From the CIC decision posted on the website, it is clear that the RTI applicant telephone was not in working order from a lot of time and he had to run from pillar to post to get his telephone put in working order. The consumer then applied under RTI to know the mechanism by which such complaints like his are addressed by BSNL. He applied RTI to BSNL on 17/10/2012 and CPIO provided this information on 1st June 2014 a day before the case was listed for hearing at CIC. Dr. Haroon Siddiqui from Allahabad after getting fed up with the non working of the phone has applied for the following information/documents:- The date of establishment of “Telecom Complaint Redressal Centre” for L.L/BB internet in your service area at Allahabad. The numbers of Land Line/Mobile phones available in these centers and its details numbers. The number of staffs, the names, designation in these centers. The time of lodging the complaint including the Sunday/holidays in these centers, whether it is registered by giving a unique docket number. Whether in a time bound manner for resolution of complaint and the action taken is communicated to the customers through SMS as per guide line of TRAI. The detail of setting up of a “Web based complaint monitoring system” where the customers can track their complaints. The details of IRVS or Interactive Voice Response is installed as per TRAI rules. The name, address of the appellant authority for Redressal of the complaint and copy of procedure for filing of appeal. BSNL complaint redressal mechanism The appellant stated that the information has been provided only yesterday and he needs some more details regarding query ©. He pleaded that due to non-provision of information he suffered detriment and had to run from pillar to post to get his telephone put in working order and some compensation should be allowed. The CPIO stated that he will provide the remaining information. Decision notice: The CPIO is directed to provide the information as above to the appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. From the foregoing it is apparent that the appellant did not receive the information till the matter came up for hearing. For the inconvenience caused to him, he deserves to be compensated. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in the CIC in Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act we direct the department to compensate him by an amount of Rs.750/- for the inconvenience and detriment caused to him. Accordingly, the CPIO should ensure that this amount is remitted to the appellant by demand draft/pay order within 21 days from the date of receipt of this order. The decision is available here! At our forum we have many discussions with regard to BSNL issues. You may like to visit the search result here to read them! If you have any query, kindly post it at our forums here! Have you faced similar problems or do you have anything to add to the story, post it in the comments.
  8. While hearing the second appeal, Central Information Commission observed that "Access to information, under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule and exemptions the exception". The information can be denied only if it is exempt as per the provisions of Section 8 or Section 9 of the RTI Act. Further, while denying information the authority withholding the information must show satisfactory reasons and such reason should be germane and based on some material. Sans this consideration the information cannot be denied. The CPIO & Asstt. Postmaster General (Staff), Department of Posts O/o the Postmaster General, Chennai City Region,Chennai - stated that the information requested by the appellant (i.e. copy(s) of letter declining promotion by the concerned officers) is exempt under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. To a query as to how the release of the information would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, he was unable to give any reasoned justification. CIC recorded that "In the instant case the CPIO has been unable to show any satisfactory reasons for withholding the information. Thus, there is no legitimate ground for not releasing the information. Hence, the CPIO is directed to furnish the information as above to the appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order." Access to information under RTI Act is the rule and exemptions the exception Earlier Mr. Vijai Pal from Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh :- Supply the copy of acceptance letter of declination to the post of AAO preferred by Mrs. Kamakshi BCR PA Chennai City central division in compliance of judgement and order dated 22/06/2012 passed by Hon’ble CAT Bench Madaras in OA No. 72/2012. Supply the copy of region allotment order and declination request of the following candidates who were declared successful in post master Grade-I exam 2011. The CPIO has denied the information under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act 2005 stating that the information requested by the appellant (i.e. copy(s) of letter declining promotion by the concerned officers) is exempt under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. However, CIC decided in favor of the RTI applicant and directed CPIO to furnish the information within 15 days. The decision is available here Mr. Vijai Pal Vs CPIO & Asstt. Postmaster General (Staff) Department of Posts O/o the Postmaster General, Chennai
  9. The commission has not allowed joint inspection of properties under MCD by using RTI Act provisions where the contention of inspection was to expose unauthorised construction in the larger public interest and that it's an exercise to disclose conspiracy between the Officers of MCD and constructers. Inspection of the ‘information’ would certainly not include private ‘house property’ as it would lead to interpretation of section 2 (f) and 2 (j) in too liberal a fashion. It is only the report/document/sample generated after inspection and which is within the domain of the public authority that can be accessed under the provisions of the RTI Act. ‘Any material in any form’ may not be equated with the term ‘material in ANY FORM’ as such comparison is odious and evidently overreaches the legislative intent. Secondly, Inspection of the properties would certainly attract Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act as it would invade the privacy of the owner/occupant(s) of the said property which is a Fundamental right enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India unauthorised construction in MCD The RTI Applicant has insisted that the Commission under Section 25 (5) of the RTI Act may direct the MCD to allow joint inspection with the MCD Officials of properties which have illegally constructed their houses. Pursuant to the Commission’s Orders dated 27 August 2013, and 30 October 2013, a full bench of the Commission had been constituted in this cases. Matter was heard on 21 November 2013. The commission noted that there are two issues involved in the present case: Whether the Central Information Commission (hereinafter “Commission”) has the ‘power to direct’ the Public Authority i.e. Municipal Corporation of Delhi (hereinafter “MCD”) to allow inspection of the Private/Third Party properties to the Appellant-in person along with technical staff/Engineers of the MCD under the RTI Act, 2005 or the DMC Act. The second issue before the Commission is (in case the Commission has the power to direct the said ‘inspection of the properties’) whether such inspection would invade the privacy of the individual owner and/or occupant of the said property and would hence attract Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005. Commission Decision: The powers of the Commission under Section 18 of the RTI Act specifically allow the CIC to inquire into any complaint filed by the RTI Applicant. The said section further allows the CIC to initiate an enquiry into the matter, if required which includes summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons, receiving evidence on affidavit, inspection of documents, etc. However, CIC does not have any power under Section 18 of the Act to allow Joint inspection of third party property to a RTI Applicant. Section 18 further does not grant power to the CIC to disclose any information to the RTI Applicant. Inspection’ does not have any relationship to any Public Activity or interest specially in the presence of alternate mechanism to carry out such inspection by the MCD officials as per the Provisions of the DMC Act. On the contrary, allowing such inspection of the personal property to ‘third party’ under the RTI Act may inculcate the ‘misuse’ of this privileged transparency right which will not be in the larger public interest. Appeal No: CIC/DS/A/2012/002173, CIC/DS/A/2012/002176 and CIC/DS/A/2012/002184 Appellant : Shri A.D. Sharma Public Authority : Municipal Corporation Delhi Date of Hearing : 21.11.2013 Date of Decision : 17.12.2013 Smt. Deepak Sandhu Chief Information Commissioner Shri Basant Seth & Shri Rajiv Mathur Information Commissioners Decision of the CIC: http://rti.cc/property
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