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  1. [caption id=attachment_338" align="alignright" width="300] Information denied under RTI[/caption] Information denied under RTI- The information to the appellant cannot be denied indefinitely on the ground that the matter is still under enquiry even after so long. A copy of the report has been denied by the respondent on the grounds that enquiry into the matter, particularly how the incident occurred, was still under enquiry by the Enquiry Committee. Shri Mahadev Tukaram Sutar, hereinafter called the appellant, has filed the present appeal dated 21.5.2012 before the Commission against the respondent Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), Mumbai for not providing complete and satisfactory information in response to his RTI-application dated 19.1.2012. The appellant has through his RTI application dated 19.1.2012 sought information on the following three queries Smt. Parvati Mahadev Sutar wife of the appellant was admitted in the MbPT Hospital on 13.11.2011 and underwent operation on right knee on 16.11.201 and shifted to Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai on 17.12.2011; The required information is about the report of the enquiry committee submitted by Dr. Vinita Matta, who was appointed to enquire into the treatment given to Smt. Parvati Mahadev Sutar in MbPT Hospital from 13.11.2011 to 17.12.2011; and The information in the form of certified copies of the case papers/treatment sheetCase No. CIC/SS/A/2012/002474 relating to treatment given to Smt. Sutar during 13.11.11 to 17.12.2011 in MbPT Hospital.”. The CPIO vide her letter No. H/E/39/9926 dated 18.2.2012 denied information on Point (b) and © of the RTI application u/s 8(1)(e) and (j) of the RTI Act and provided information on Point © i.e. summary of the case. Information denied under RTI The only issue in the present appeal is about non-supply of the report of the Enquiry Committee submitted by Dr. Vinita Matta, who was appointed to enquire into the treatment given to Smt. Parvati Mahadev Sutar in MbPT Hospital from 13.11.2011 to 17.12.2011. A copy of the report has been denied by the respondent on the grounds that enquiry into the matter, particularly how the incident occurred, was still under enquiry by the Enquiry Committee. The information to the appellant cannot be denied indefinitely on the ground that the matter is still under enquiry even after so long. The Commission hereby directs the CPIO to provide the findings of the report to the appellant free of cost within two weeks of receipt of this order. Here are the discussion threads from our forum regarding the Enquiry report
  2. 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
  3. [caption id=attachment_296" align="alignright" width="300] Larger Public Interest[/caption] A mere allegation of evasion by Smt Sonia Gandhi cannot be construed to fall under larger public interest of RTI Act 2005. Public interest does not mean that which is interesting as gratifying curiosity or love of information or amusement; but that in which a class of the community have a pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their rights or liabilities are affected. Further the commission stated that "whenever the querist applicant wishes to seek information, the disclosure of which can be made only upon existence of certain special circumstances, for example- the existence of larger public interest, the querist should in the application (moved under Section 6 of the Act) disclose/ plead the special circumstance, so that the PIO concerned can apply his mind to it, and, in case he decides to issue notice to the concerned third party under Section 11 of the Act, the third party is able to effectively deal with the same. Only then the PIO/appellate authority/CIC would be able to come to an informed decision whether, or not, the special circumstances exist in a given case." Larger Public Interest Earlier Vide RTI dt 12.11.11, appellant had sought copies of ITRs and balance sheet submitted by Smt Sonia Gandhi for the period 2000-2011.CPIO vide letter dt 5.12.11, observed that the information sought relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public interest and disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the assessee and hence information was denied u/s 8(1)(j). CPIO stated that "a notice u/s 11 of the RTI Act was sent to the third party, who had objected to disclosure of private information as it would amount to unwarranted invasion of the individual’s privacy. It was further observed that as there was no overriding public interest involved, the request was rejected u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act." The contention of the appellant before the CIC was that there is evasion of tax as evident from the affidavit filed by her before the Election Commission in 2004. As such there is larger public interest in disclosure of the Returns. The CIC has in turn quoted that: "The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande has held that details disclosed by a person in his Income Tax Returns are ‘personal information’ which stands exempt from disclosure u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act unless it involves larger public interest and the CPIO or the AA is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information." The Hon’ble High Court in the case of UPSC Vs RK Jain decided on 13.7.2012, has defined public interest as follows: “25. “Public interest” is also a ground for taking away the exemption from disclosure of personal information. Therefore, a querist may seek personal information of a person from a public authority in public interest. The second half of the first part of clause (j) of Section 8(1) shows that when personal information in respect of a person is sought, the authority concerned shall weigh the competing claims i.e., the claim for the protection of personal information of the concerned person on the one hand, and the claim of public interest on the other, and if “public interest” justifies disclosure, i.e., the public interest outweighs the need for protection of personal information, the concerned authority shall disclose the information. 26. For example, a querist may seek from the income tax authorities- the details of the income tax returns filed by private individual/juristic entity - if the querist can justify the disclosure of such personal information on the anvil of public interest. The authorities would, in such cases, be cautious to ensure that the ground of “public interest” is not routinely used as a garb by busy bodies to pry on the personal affairs of individual private citizens/entities, as it would be against public interest (and not in public interest) to permit such personal information of third parties to fall into the hands of anybody or everybody. 227. At this stage, I may digress a little and observe that whenever the querist applicant wishes to seek information, the disclosure of which can be made only upon existence of certain special circumstances, for example- the existence of public interest, the querist should in the application (moved under Section 6 of the Act) disclose/ plead the special circumstance, so that the PIO concerned can apply his mind to it, and, in case he decides to issue notice to the concerned third party under Section 11 of the Act, the third party is able to effectively deal with the same. Only then the PIO/appellate authority/CIC would be able to come to an informed decision whether, or not, the special circumstances exist in a given case. 28. I may also observe that public interest does not mean that which is interesting as gratifying curiosity or love of information or amusement; but that in which a class of the community have a pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their rights or liabilities are affected. The expression “public interest” is not capable of a precise definition and has not a rigid meaning and is elastic and takes its colors from the statute in which it occurs, the concept varying with the time and the state of the society and its needs. [see Advanced Law Lexicon, Third Edition].” 9. A mere allegation of evasion cannot be construed as larger public interest. The Commission concurs with the decision of the CPIO/AA. More discussions over forum http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/114318-new-file-added-asset-details-only-when-larger-public-interest.html http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/113550-rti-question-what-public-interest-relation-rti.html http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/112639-public-interest-vs-private-interest.html Related articles across the web Can I obtain information from Private Body under RTI? RTI for Ration Card - Third Party Information under Larger Public Interest Information Commission has no power to send the complaint back
  4. rtiindia

    Can RTI break the wife locker

    CIC refused attempt by husband to get hold of information about his wife's locker. Earlier the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) has denied the information citing section 8(1)(d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act, as he is the third party. The appellant referred to his RTI application of 02.05.2012 and stated that he is seeking information regarding the operation of his wife's locker. The appellant stated that he has strained relations with his wife. The appellant stated that he wanted to know on what dates and how many times, the locker was operated by his wife during a certain period. The appellant stated that he also wants statement of savings bank account and details of fixed deposits till date. The approach of the respondent bank was in conformity with the RTI Act and CIC upheld the decision of FAA. Can RTI break the wife locker Earlier in the decision posted at our law segment titled "Husband wife and third party clause under RTI", the CIC has ruled that Husband and Wife are separate legal entity therefore Husband wife and third party clause under RTI are applicable. Kindly read the numerous discussions at out forum regarding Third Party Information under RTI (Vijai Sharma) Information Commissioner Decision No.CIC/VS/A/2012/001753/05738 Appeal No.CIC/VS/A/2012/001753 Dated: 31.12.2013 Appellant: Shri Sameer Bhandari Respondent: Public Information Officer, Syndicate Bank, Regional Office, SCO 76­77, Sector­ 17­B, Chandigarh ­160 017. Decision link: http://rti.cc/7l
  5. A simple request to Canara bank for 'Yes' or 'No' to know whether the Canara Bank has any account who has given this particular address was denied by the bank citing Personal and Fiduciary relationship exception clauses. The applicant suspected that certain malpractices are being routed through this bank account which could be money laundering. He did not desired any statement of account and that he does not even want to know whether it is a cash credit or savings bank or term loan or a current account. "The appellant said that he just wants to get a response from the bank in 'yes' or 'no' on the point mentioned in the RTI application, i.e., whether there is any account ­holder in the bank with the addresses mentioned in the RTI application ". The Canara Bank denies Information immediately after applying the Exemption clauses under section 8(1)(e) and (j) of the RTI Act. The appellant filed a first appeal with the first appellate authority (FAA) who responded and informed the appellant that the sought information does not come under the purview of definition of information under section 2(f) of the RTI Act. Canara Bank denies Information The appellant stated that he is an informed citizen, wanting to get information in the public interest. The appellant emphasized that he does not want any statement of account and that he does not even want to know whether it is a cash credit or savings bank or term loan or a current account. The CIC allowed the appeal and the respondent was directed to provide to the appellant, within 30 days of this order, the information sought above in context of the RTI application. (Vijai Sharma) Information Commissioner Decision No.CIC/VS/A/2013/000384/05739 Appeal No.CIC/VS/A/2013/000384 Dated: 31.12.2013 Appellant: Shri K.D. Aggarwal, PIO: Public Information Officer, Canara Bank, Chandigarh Link to Decision: K.D.Aggarwal Vs Canara Bank
  6. 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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