Upgrad LLM

sc-rti-3.10.2012

ADVISOR

'
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012
(@ CC 14781/2012)

 

Girish Ramchandra Deshpande .. Petitioner
Versus
Cen. Information Commr. & Ors. .. Respondents

 

O R D E R

1. Delay condoned.

2. We are, in this case, concerned with the question whether the Central
Information Commissioner (for short 'the CIC') acting under the Right to
Information Act, 2005 (for short 'the RTI Act') was right in denying
information regarding the third respondent's personal matters pertaining to
his service career and also denying the details of his assets and
liabilities, movable and immovable properties on the ground that the
information sought for was qualified to be personal information as defined
in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.


3. The petitioner herein had submitted an application on 27.8.2008
before the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (Ministry of Labour,
Government of India) calling for various details relating to third
respondent, who was employed as an Enforcement Officer in Sub-Regional
Office, Akola, now working in the State of Madhya Pradesh. As many as 15
queries were made to which the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Nagpur
gave the following reply on 15.9.2008:

"As to Point No.1: Copy of appointment order of Shri A.B. Lute, is
in 3 pages. You have sought the details of
salary in respect of Shri A.B. Lute, which
relates to personal information the disclosures
of which has no relationship to any public
activity or interest, it would cause
unwarranted invasion of the privacy of
individual hence denied as per the RTI
provision under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act.


As to Point No.2: Copy of order of granting Enforcement Officer
Promotion to Shri A.B. Lute, is in 3 Number.
Details of salary to the post along with
statutory and other deductions of Mr. Lute is
denied to provide as per RTI provisions under
Section 8(1)(j) for the reasons mentioned
above.


As to Point NO.3: All the transfer orders of Shri A.B. Lute, are
in 13 Numbers. Salary details is rejected as
per the provision under Section 8(1)(j) for the
reason mentioned above.


As to Point No.4: The copies of memo, show cause notice, censure
issued to Mr. Lute, are not being provided on
the ground that it would cause unwarranted
invasion of the privacy of the individual and
has no relationship to any public activity or
interest. Please see RTI provision under
Section 8(1)(j).


As to Point No.5: Copy of EPF (Staff & Conditions) Rules 1962 is
in 60 pages.


As to Point No.6: Copy of return of assets and liabilities in
respect of Mr. Lute cannot be provided as per
the provision of RTI Act under Section 8(1)(j)
as per the reason explained above at point
No.1.


As to Point No.7: Details of investment and other related details
are rejected as per the provision of RTI Act
under Section 8(1)(j) as per the reason
explained above at point No.1.


As to Point No.8: Copy of report of item wise and value wise
details of gifts accepted by Mr. Lute, is
rejected as per the provisions of RTI Act under
Section 8(1)(j) as per the reason explained
above at point No.1.


As to Point No.9: Copy of details of movable, immovable
properties of Mr. Lute, the request to provide
the same is rejected as per the RTI Provisions
under Section 8(1)(j).


As to Point No.10: Mr. Lute is not claiming for TA/DA for
attending the criminal case pending at JMFC,
Akola.


As to Point No.11: Copy of Notification is in 2 numbers.


As to Point No.12: Copy of certified true copy of charge sheet
issued to Mr. Lute - The matter pertains with
head Office, Mumbai. Your application is being
forwarded to Head Office, Mumbai as per Section
6(3) of the RTI Act, 2005.


As to Point No.13: Certified True copy of complete enquiry
proceedings initiated against Mr. Lute - It
would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of
individuals and has no relationship to any
public activity or interest. Please see RTI
provisions under Section 8(1)(j).


As to Point No.14: It would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy
of individuals and has no relationship to any
public activity or interest, hence denied to
provide.


As to Point No.15: Certified true copy of second show cause notice
- It would cause unwarranted invasion of
privacy of individuals and has no relationship
to any public activity or interest, hence
denied to provide."

 


4. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner approached the CIC. The
CIC passed the order on 18.6.2009, the operative portion of the order reads
as under:

"The question for consideration is whether the aforesaid information
sought by the Appellant can be treated as 'personal information' as
defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. It may be
pertinent to mention that this issue came up before the Full Bench of
the Commission in Appeal No.CIC/AT/A/2008/000628 (Milap Choraria v.
Central Board of Direct Taxes) and the Commission vide its decision
dated 15.6.2009 held that "the Income Tax return have been rightly
held to be personal information exempted from disclosure under clause
(j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act by the CPIO and the Appellate
Authority, and the appellant herein has not been able to establish
that a larger public interest would be served by disclosure of this
information. This logic would hold good as far as the ITRs of Shri
Lute are concerned. I would like to further observe that the
information which has been denied to the appellant essentially falls
in two parts - (i) relating to the personal matters pertaining to his
services career; and (ii) Shri Lute's assets & liabilities, movable
and immovable properties and other financial aspects. I have no
hesitation in holding that this information also qualifies to be the
'personal information' as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the
RTI Act and the appellant has not been able to convince the Commission
that disclosure thereof is in larger public interest."

 


5. The CIC, after holding so directed the second respondent to disclose
the information at paragraphs 1, 2, 3 (only posting details), 5, 10, 11,
12,13 (only copies of the posting orders) to the appellant within a period
of four weeks from the date of the order. Further, it was held that the
information sought for with regard to the other queries did not qualify for
disclosure.

6. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner filed a writ petition
No.4221 of 2009 which came up for hearing before a learned Single Judge and
the court dismissed the same vide order dated 16.2.2010. The matter was
taken up by way of Letters Patent Appeal No.358 of 2011 before the Division
Bench and the same was dismissed vide order dated 21.12.2011. Against the
said order this special leave petition has been filed.

7. Shri A.P. Wachasunder, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner
submitted that the documents sought for vide Sl. Nos.1, 2 and 3 were
pertaining to appointment and promotion and Sl. No.4 and 12 to 15 were
related to disciplinary action and documents at Sl. Nos.6 to 9 pertained to
assets and liabilities and gifts received by the third respondent and the
disclosure of those details, according to the learned counsel, would not
cause unwarranted invasion of privacy.

8. Learned counsel also submitted that the privacy appended to Section
8(1)(j) of the RTI Act widens the scope of documents warranting disclosure
and if those provisions are properly interpreted, it could not be said that
documents pertaining to employment of a person holding the post of
enforcement officer could be treated as documents having no relationship to
any public activity or interest.

9. Learned counsel also pointed out that in view of Section 6(2) of the
RTI Act, the applicant making request for information is not obliged to
give any reason for the requisition and the CIC was not justified in
dismissing his appeal.

10. This Court in Central Board of Secondary Education and another v.
Aditya Bandopadhyay and others (2011) 8 SCC 497 while dealing with the
right of examinees to inspect evaluated answer books in connection with the
examination conducted by the CBSE Board had an occasion to consider in
detail the aims and object of the RTI Act as well as the reasons for the
introduction of the exemption clause in the RTI Act, hence, it is
unnecessary, for the purpose of this case to further examine the meaning
and contents of Section 8 as a whole.

11. We are, however, in this case primarily concerned with the scope and
interpretation to clauses (e), (g) and (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act
which are extracted herein below:
"8. Exemption from disclosure of information.- (1) Notwithstanding
anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give
any citizen,-


(e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship,
unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public
interest warrants the disclosure of such information;


(g) 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;


(j) information which relates to personal information the disclosure
of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or
which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the
individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State
Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may
be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the
disclosure of such information."

 


12. The petitioner herein sought for copies of all memos, show cause
notices and censure/punishment awarded to the third respondent from his
employer and also details viz. movable and immovable properties and also
the details of his investments, lending and borrowing from Banks and other
financial institutions. Further, he has also sought for the details of
gifts stated to have accepted by the third respondent, his family members
and friends and relatives at the marriage of his son. The information
mostly sought for finds a place in the income tax returns of the third
respondent. The question that has come up for consideration is whether the
above-mentioned information sought for qualifies to be "personal
information" as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.

13. We are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the
details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to the
third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc.
are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of
Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. The performance of an employee/officer in an
organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer
and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall
under the expression "personal information", the disclosure of which has no
relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand,
the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that
individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information
Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the Appellate Authority
is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of
such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner
cannot claim those details as a matter of right.

14. The details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are
"personal information" which stand exempted from disclosure under clause
(j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public
interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public
Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger
public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.

15. The petitioner in the instant case has not made a bona fide public
interest in seeking information, the disclosure of such information would
cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under Section
8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

16. We are, therefore, of the view that the petitioner has not succeeded
in establishing that the information sought for is for the larger public
interest. That being the fact, we are not inclined to entertain this
special leave petition. Hence, the same is dismissed.


.............................................J.
(K. S. RADHAKRISHNAN)

 

 


.............................................J.
(DIPAK MISRA)
New Delhi
October 3, 2012


 


 
 

 
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