TRAI does not provide call details, CRD etc. Please refer High court order which rejected CIC decision to provide information. Therefore do not send RTI to TRAi for call details, tower locations etc. In a important decision in Oct 2013 High Court in Yashpal Case held that personal call details under RTI can not be asked from TRAI.
NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has shot down attempts by a senior citizen to procure call and SMS details of his estranged daughter-in-law under the RTI Act.
Justice V K Jain on Friday set aside a Central Information Commission (CIC) directive to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to furnish the records to the applicant, Yashpal. Yashpal argued that he needed the records to better defend himself against alleged harassment by his estranged daughter-in-law who has filed a slew of cases against his family in court.
"With whom a subscriber communicates and what messages he sends or receives are his/her personal affairs, disclosure of which is bound to impinge on his privacy. The information sought therefore, is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act," Justice Jain observed while quashing the CIC directive.
HC acted on an appeal filed by TRAI where the regulatory body argued that the CIC order will compromise privacy of individuals since these details would be available any individual will be able to access call and SMS details of any citizen by simply filing an RTI with TRAI. It further contended that the power to call for information or explanation from the service provider can be exercised by TRAI only if such information or explanation is required for discharge of functions assigned to it.
TRAI disagreed with the CIC order asking it to fetch the details from the service provider and said, "to provide details information of subscribers like their names, addresses, call details and copies of the SMSs sent by them certainly are not amongst functions assigned to TRAI under Section 11 of the Act."
HC agreed, observing that if it is assumed that "such information can be requisitioned by TRAI, it would result in a situation where it is able to violate with impunity the fundamental right of a citizen to his privacy, by knowing with whom he has been communicating as well as the contents of the messages sent by him."
RTI Foundation of India
Details like call, sms, tower location, EMI no. of a mobile number were denied u/s 8(1)(j) - Appellant: information relates to official mobile number - CIC: where public and private calls are intertwined, call details cannot be provided; appeal rejected 5 Dec, 2013 ORDER Information sought: 1- Provide details i.e. call, sms, tower location, EMI no. etc. of mobile number 9454401294 of Mr. Amarjit Shahi suspended Dy. Superintendent of Police, for the period from May 2011 to May 2012. 2- Provide details i.e. call, sms, tower location, EMI no. etc. of mobile number 9454147138 of Geeta Vidyarthi, for the period from May 2011 to May 2012. 3- Provide details i.e. call, sms, tower location, EMI no. etc. of mobile number 9532380323 of Capt. Mahesh Chandra Vidyarthi, for the period from May 2011 to May 2012. Grounds for the Second Appeal: The PIO has refused to give the information on point no. 01 under section 8(1)(j) and Section 11(1) of the RTI Act. Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing: The appellant stated that he wants the CDR of mobile no. 9454401294 of Mr. Amarjit Shahi suspended Dy. Superintendent of Police, for the period from May 2011 to May 2012. The CPIO’s representative that the mobile number for which the appellant is seeking the CDR is registered in the name of the Additional Director General Police, Lucknow. He argued that the information relates to a third party, is personal in nature and no larger public purpose has been demonstrated Page 1 of 2 by the appellant to justify the disclosure and hence, exempt under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. The appellant contested stating that this is an official mobile number and the information cannot be withheld. Decision notice: The appellant has argued that he is entitled to the information sought as it relates to an official mobile number. It is, however, seen that the Commission in an earlier order in appeal F.No. CIC/AT/A/2009/000836 dated 09/03/2010 has held as under:- “5. From all accounts, the facility of telephone provided by a public authority to its employees was to facilitate their work. It is also obvious that the installation, maintenance and the usage of these phones were financed by the public authority’s budget. Norms and guidelines have been provided covering the usage of the phone, especially about when the private use of the ‘phone was to be paid for by the employee. Such call details, where public as well as private calls are intertwined, cannot be provided to avoid invasion of privacy under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act.” The ratio of the above decision applies squarely to the issue at hand and hence the appellant’s contention cannot be sustained. The appeal is disposed of accordingly. BASANT SETH Information Commissioner Citation: Capt. M. C. Vidyarthi v. BSNL in File No. CIC/BS/A/2012/001772/3902
In an important decision, Delhi High Court (“High Court”) has allowed a writ petition filed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (“TRAI”) against the order of Central Information Commission (“CIC”). In the impugned order of CIC, TRAI was ordered to seek information of a mobile subscriber from the concerned service provider. [Telecom Regulatory Authority of India v. Yash Pal, judgment Dated 25th October, 2013]
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Facts: The respondent, Yash Pal, had applied to the CPIO of TRAI seeking call and SMS details of certain mobile numbers. When his application was rejected by both the CPIO and the appellate authority, the respondent filed a second appeal before the CIC. By its order, CIC directed the TRAI to call for the requisite information subject to its availability with the Service Provider and pass on the same to the respondent. TRAI was required to do this by exercising its power under section 12(1) of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (“TRAI Act”). Against this order, TRAI filed the present petition before the High Court.
Relevant Legislations: Right to Information Act, 2005; Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997]
Bench: Single Judge [Justice V.K. Jain]
Findings of the High Court:
Apart from testing the power of TRAI to call such information from the concerned service provider, the High Court also framed the following issue:
"whether the information sought by the respondent is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI Act”)"
While allowing the petition, the High Court referred to section 2(f) of the RTI Act which defines the term ‘information’ as any material information in any form which can be accessed by a Public Authority. In the present case, the respondent had sought the information, such as call and SMS details, related to certain mobile numbers. In doing so, power of TRAI, under section 12(1) of the TRAI Act, was sought to be invoked. According to section 12(1) of the TRAI Act, the authority is empowered to call requisite information from the concerned service provider.
Allowing the petition, it was held by the High Court the said power to call information cannot be exercised by TRAI unless the same is required for discharging the functions assigned to it. Holding that the information, under section 12(1) of the TRAI, can be sought only in relation to the affairs of the Service Provider and not the affairs of a subscriber to telecom services, the court was of the opinion that:
“...To provide information in respect of the subscribers of mobile telephones such as their names and addresses, their call details and copies of the SMSs sent by them certainly are not amongst the functions assigned to the Authority under Section 11 of the Act....”
According to the High Court, if TRAI is allowed to call such personal information, it would be assuming unbridled power. Further, this will also lead to a situation where TRAI would be able to violate the privacy right of an individual. Hence, such personal nature of information cannot be sought by TRAI by exercising power under section 12(1) of the TRAI Act.
In addition to this, it was held by the court that, even if TRAI is allowed to procure such personal information, the same will be exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(f) of the RTI Act. Of course, the such information can be disclosed if it is related to public activity or interest. Under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, personal information, which has no relation with any public activity or public interest, is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act. [Referred case: Union of India vs. Hardev Singh, W.P.(C) No. 3444/2012, Delhi High Court, judgment dated 23.08.2013. In this case, the High Court interpreted section 8(1)(f) of the RTI Act]
Explaining the meaning of the term ‘personal information’, the High Court referred to the case of UPSC versus R.K. Jain [W.P(C) No.1243/2011, Delhi High Court, decided on 13.7.2012]. In this case, it was held by the court that ‘personal information’ of an individual takes into its fold possibly every kind of information relating to the person. Further, the court explained that the public activity of a person are those activities which are which are performed by the person in discharge of a public duty, i.e. in the public domain.
Having discussed the above legal position, the High Court, in the present case, was of the opinion that communications carried out by a mobile subscriber are his personal affairs. The same was therefore exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(f) of the RTI Act.