Do I have to reply to a RTI application against my organization when such information contains self incriminating facts?
H.JanakiManohar Rao (lawyer) 25 August 2021
Ananya Gosain 26 August 2021
The Indian Constitution provides immunity to an accused against self-incrimination under Article 20(3) – ‘No person accused of an offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. However, one of the ingredients of this article is that-
This privilege is only available to a person against whom a formal accusation relating to the commission of an offence has been levelled, which may result in prosecution. A formal accusation can be made by lodging an F.I.R. or a formal complaint against a person accusing him of committing a crime. It applies only to formal accusations and not on departmental inquiries into allegations against a government servant since there is no accusation of any offense.
Under Right to Information Act there are only the following situations where you can hold on to access to information:
1) Information that would prejudice the International relations, integrity, and national security of India.
2) Information that has been expressly forbidden to be published by court or tribunal or if such disclosure of information leads to contempt of court.
3) Information that is covered by legal/professional privilege.
4) Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets, or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party.
5) Information that is being sought out of the fiduciary relationship.
6) Information, the disclosure of 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 purposes.
7) Information that would hinder the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
8) Information related to cabinet paper and their records
To conclude Officials are not required to provide private or personal information which is exempted under Section 8(1) (j) of the Act. Again, this is decided on a case-to-case basis (as has indeed been the case with the decisions of the CIC). If public interest is served by disclosing such information then it must be given.
minakshi bindhani 22 October 2021
Sudhir Kumar, Advocate (Advocate) 12 January 2022
better state facts of the case.
As far as fundamental right agsinst self incrimination is concened, it is to be understood that every fundamental right can be abridged or denied as per procedure established by law and RTI Act is a procedure established by law.
One expert has already stated the facts under which the information can be denied and this list does not include the factor of self incrimination.