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RTI >> Judgments >> CIC >> Exemption >> Personal Information
Supreme Court(Personal Information)/ High Courts(Personal Information)
S.No. CIC CASE DATE OF JUDGMENT JUDGMENT
1 CIC/CCITM/A/2018/144268-BJ
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31 Jan, 2020 Mr. Rajiv Mohan Mishra vs CPIO Jt. Commissioner (OSD) – 15(3)(2)

Information sought: The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 02 points with regard to the amount deposited by M/s U.S. Roofs Limited against the notice issued to them on 08.01.2013 and issues related thereto.

Decision: Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat in the matter of Vinubhai Haribhai Patel (Malavia) v. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Special Civil Application No. 7187 of 2014 dated 16.07.2015 had held as under: “5. Now, turning to the facts of the present case, it is evident that the kind and nature of the information demanded by the petitioner clearly falls within the expression "personal information". The personal character of the information demanded in the nature of Income-tax Returns of the private parties to get disclosure about the payment of tax by them which was again in order to know about their status as agriculturists declared to be so by the authorities in the legal proceedings, could be indeed said to be personal. It was in the background of litigation between the petitioner and the said private persons relating to their property rights wherein the Will in favour of private parties was disputed and the disputes of civil nature were being agitated before the forum concerned and the court. This information being personal in nature, could not be claimed as a matter of right by the petitioner, rather they were clearly exempted information under Section 8(1)(j). The contention of larger public interest justifying the disclosure does not exist. In disclosing the said information asked for by the petitioner relating to the private parties, there was no element of public interest to be sub-served. The information was personal information relating to third parties. The attendant facts and circumstances and the litigation between the petitioner and those parties, instead indicated that the information was personal information which was asked for by the petitioner for his own personal interest and private purpose. Respondent No. 3-Central Information Commissioner was eminently justified in taking a view that there was no public interest present in the information claimed to be supplied, rightly denying the same by dismissing the appeal.” Page 5 of 5 The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of CPIO vs. Hemant Kumar Behera W.P.(C) 11658/2017 & CM No. 47383/2017 dated 27.08.2018 held as under: “17. Mere apprehension that a third party has declared income, which is lower than the true income, cannot justify disclosure of Income Tax Returns in larger public interest.”
2 CIC/FCIND/A/2018/133221
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06 Jan, 2020 Renu Vs. CPIO, Food Corporation of India, Headquarter, New Delhi.

Information Sought
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Food Corporation of India, Headquarter, New Delhi seeking following information regarding Late Shri Yashpal:-
1. Name of the nominee.
2. Name of the claimant of his medical bill after his demise.
3. Whether LR certificate was submitted for the medical claim.
4. On what ground medical bills have been reimbursed.”

Decision
This Commission observes that the appellant has neither produced any legal heir certificate nor is mentioned as the daughter of Late Shri Yashpal in his service records. Also, no larger public interest has been established in the matter. Therefore, the information sought by the appellant is exempted u/Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Further, this Commission observes that the details of the service records of an individual employee are in the nature of ‘personal information’ which cannot be supplied to the appellant in the absence of any larger public interest. This position has also been upheld by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court vide its decision dated 22-08-2013 vide W.P. No. 1825 of 2013 in Subhash Bajirao Khemnar v. Shri Dilip Nayku Thorat & Others, wherein, it was observed as follows:-

“…that the Chief Information Commissioner was not justified in directing the Information Officer to supply personal information in respect of the service record, income tax returns and assets of the petitioner unless the Commissioner was satisfied that the disclosure of the information was justified in larger public
interest.”

With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.

3 CIC/CCUM1/A/2018/623678-BJ
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10 Dec, 2019 Mr. Akash Deep Choudhary Vs. CPIO & Dy. Commissioner of Customs

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding the copies of dossiers of the officers (whose names were mentioned in the RTI application) as received at the Custom House for their appointment on the post of Preventive Officer, sent by SSC, New Delhi, along with the copies of forwarding letters of SSC where under the dossiers were received.

The CPIO, vide its letter dated 03.04.2018 denied disclosure of information u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005. Dissatisfied with the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 08.05.2018 concurred with the CPIO’s response.

Decision
The Commission also referred to the decision of the Hon’ble High Court of Sikkim in the matter of Sancha Bahadur Subba vs. State of Sikkim W.P. (C) 31/2017 dated 30.04.2018 had held as under:

“30. …………As can be culled out from the averments and submissions, the Petitioner herein suspects that the Respondent No. 5 is in possession of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, however mere suspicion without any prima facie material
to substantiate it does not justify the disclosure of such information of the Respondent No. 5 as rests with the concerned government authority. This situation indeed appears to be a fishing expedition embarked upon by the Petitioner without any bona fide public interest. In these circumstances, it obtains that disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual and falls under the ambit of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.”

Moreover, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of CPIO vs. Hemant Kumar Behera W.P.(C) 11658/2017 & CM No. 47383/2017 dated 27.08.2018 held as under:

“17. Mere apprehension that a third party has declared income, which is lower than the true income, cannot justify disclosure of Income Tax Returns in larger public interest.” The Appellant could not contest the submissions of the Respondent or to establish the larger
public interest in disclosure which outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties and in the light of the aforesaid decisions of the Superior Courts, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter. For redressal of his grievance, the Appellant is advised to approach an appropriate forum.

The Appeal stands disposed accordingly.
4 CIC/CGIGC/A/2018/104719
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06 Dec, 2019 Sanjeev Kumar Vs. CPIO, Consulate General of India, Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi

Information Sought
Details of places visited and purpose of visits.

Decision

The Commission, after hearing the submissions of the respondent, and upon perusal of the records, observes that the respondent has complied with the directions of the Commission. The Commission notes that since no personal visits were made by the then Consul General, Shri Y. K. Sailas Thangal outside the jurisdiction of CGI, Guangzhou, no question of approval by the competent authority regarding the same arises. Further, requisite information has already been provided to the appellant vide letter dated 22.04.2019. Hence, no further action is required in the matter.

With the above observations, the non-compliance complaint is disposed of. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
5 CIC/SERLK/A/2018/115309
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29 Nov, 2019 Dr. Bimal Kumar Raj Vs. CPIO, M/o. Railways, South Eastern Railway, Kharagpur

Information Sought
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), M/O. Railways, South Eastern Railway, Kharagpur seeking information as follows:-
“1. Certified copies of caste certificates & appointment letters of said Mr. Jaidev Elly, Ms. Soma Das, Late Mr. Ganesh Elly & Late Mr. Birendra Das.
2. Copies of Death Certificates of said Late Mr. Ganesh Elly & Late Mr. Birendra Das.
3. Certified copies of verification reports, promotion reports etc. of above named four railway workers.
4. Copies of settlement dues & pension details after death of said Late Mr. Ganesh Elly & Late Mr. Birendra Das.”
Decision
Copies of the verification reports, promotion reports etc. of other employees cannot be provided to the appellant in terms of the legal principle enunciated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court India in its judgment dated 31.08.2017 in Civil Appeal No. 22 of 2009 titled as Canara Bank Rep. by its Deputy Gen. Manager v. C.S. Shyam & Anr., wherein it was observed as under:-
“5. …This information was in relation to the personal details of individual employee such as the date of his/her joining, designation, details of promotion earned, date of his/her joining to the Branch where he/she is posted, the authorities who issued the transfer orders etc.
12. In our considered opinion, the issue involved herein remains no more res integra and stands settled by two decisions of this Court in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs.
Central Information Commissioner &Ors., (2013) 1 SCC 212 and R. K. Jain vs. Union of India & Anr., (2013) 14 SCC 794, it may not be necessary to re-examine any legal issue urged in this appeal.
14. In our considered opinion, the aforementioned principle of law applies to the facts of this case on all force. It is for the reasons that, firstly, the information sought by respondent No.1 of individual employees working in the Bank was personal in nature; secondly, it was exempted from being disclosed under Section 8(j) of the Act and lastly, neither respondent No.1 disclosed any public interest much less larger public interest involved in seeking such information of the individual employee and nor any finding was recorded by the Central Information Commission and the High Court asto the involvement of any larger public interest in supplyingsuch information to respondent No.1.
15. It is for these reasons, we are of the considered view that the application made by respondent No.1 under Section 6 of the Act was wholly misconceived and was, therefore, rightly rejected by the Public Information Officer and Chief Public Information Officer whereas wrongly allowed by the Central Information Commission and the High Court.
16. In this view of the matter, we allow the appeal, set aside the order of the High Court and Central Information Commission and restore the orders passed by the Public Information Officer and the Chief Public Information Officer. As a result, the application submitted by respondent No.1 to the appellant-Bank dated 01.08.2006 (Annexure-P-1) stands rejected.”

The details of the service records such as settlement dues, appointment letters and pension details of other employees are in the nature of ‘personal information’ which cannot be supplied to the appellant in the absence of any larger public interest. This position has also been upheld by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court vide its decision dated 22-08-2013 vide W.P. No. 1825 of 2013 in Subhash Bajirao Khemnar v. Shri Dilip Nayku Thorat & Others, wherein, it was observed as follows:-

“…that the Chief Information Commissioner was not justified in directing the Information Officer to supply personal information in respect of the service record, income tax returns and assets of the petitioner unless the Commissioner was satisfied that the disclosure of the information was justified in larger public interest.”

6 CIC/HPCLD/A/2018/615486-BJ
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19 Sep, 2019 Mr. Santosh Kumar Vs. CPIO & Chief General Manager – Retail, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., Dist. Begusarai – 851101

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding the Lucknow Region Vendor Code 28113859, payment details for the FY 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18; amount shown in Form 26AS i.e., value of income tax deducted and amount transferred in Bank A/c matched with Gross Bill and Deductions and certified Bill copy of all sites, all bills with details item and quantity wise.

Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response from the CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. Subsequently, the CPIO and Chief Regional manager- Retail, HPCL, Mumbai vide its letter dated 17.05.2018 informed the Appellant that the information sought pertained to their Lucknow Region hence they were unable to provide the same. Thus, the Appellant was requested to approach the Lucknow Region for the desired information. It was also stated that the Appellant was already advised the same vide their reply dated 06.10.2017 to the Appeal dated 11.09.2017. The order of the FAA, if any, is not on the record of the Commission.

Decision
The Commission observed that the framework of the RTI Act, 2005 restricts the jurisdiction of the Commission to provide a ruling on the issues pertaining to access/ right to information and to venture into the merits of a case or redressal of grievance. The Commission in a plethora of
decisions including Shri Vikram Singh v. Delhi Police, North East District, CIC/SS/A/2011/001615 dated 17.02.2012 Sh. Triveni Prasad Bahuguna vs. LIC of India, Lucknow CIC/DS/A/2012/000906 dated 06.09.2012, Mr. H. K. Bansal vs. CPIO & GM (OP), MTNL CIC/LS/A/2011/000982/BS/1786 dated 29.01.2013 had held that RTI Act was not the proper law for redressal of grievances/disputes.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Union of India v. Namit Sharma in REVIEW PETITION [C] No.2309 OF 2012 IN Writ Petition [C] No.210 OF 2012 with State of Rajasthan and Anr. vs. Namit Sharma Review Petition [C] No.2675 OF 2012 In Writ Petition [C] No.210 OF 2012 had held as under:

“While deciding whether a citizen should or should not get a particular information “which is held by or under the control of any public authority”, the Information Commission does not decide a dispute between two or more parties concerning their legal rights other than their right to get information in possession of a public authority.This function obviously is not a judicial function, but an administrative function conferred by the Act on the Information Commissions.”

Furthermore, the High Court of Delhi in the matter of Hansi Rawat and Anr. vs. Punjab National Bank and Ors. LPA No.785/2012 dated 11.01.2013 held as under:

“6. The proceedings under the RTI Act do not entail detailed adjudication of the said aspects. The dispute relating to dismissal of the appellant No.2 LPA No.785/2012 from the employment of the respondent Bank is admittedly pending consideration before the appropriate forum. The purport of the RTI Act is to enable the appellants to effectively pursue the said dispute. The question, as to what inference if any is to be drawn from the response of the PIO of the respondent Bank to the RTI application of the appellants, is to be drawn in the said proceedings and as aforesaid the proceedings under the RTI Act cannot be converted into proceedings for adjudication of disputes as to the correctness of the information furnished.”

Moreover, in a recent decision in Govt. of NCT vs. Rajendra Prasad WP (C) 10676/2016 dated 30.11.2017, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held as under:

6. The CIC has been constituted under Section 12 of the Act and the powers of CIC are delineated under the Act. The CIC being a statutory body has to act strictly within the confines of the Act and is neither required to nor has the jurisdiction to examine any other controversy or disputes.

7. In the present case, it is apparent that CIC had decided issues which were plainly outside the scope of the jurisdiction of CIC under the Act. The limited scope of examination by the CIC was: (i) whether the information sought for by the respondent was provided to him; (ii) if the same was denied, whether such denial was justified; (iii) whether any punitive action was required to be taken against the concerned PIO; and (iv) whether any directions under Section 19(8) were warranted. In addition, the CIC also exercises powers under Section 18 of the Act and also performs certain other functions as expressly provided under various provisions of the Act including Section 25 of the Act. It is plainly not within the jurisdiction of the CIC to examine the dispute as to whether respondent no.2 was entitled to and was allotted a plot of land under the 20-Point Programme.

7 CIC/GNCTD/A/2017/172386
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17 Sep, 2019 Shri Gurvinder Singh Saini Vs. PIO, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee,

Information Sought:
1. The total amount spent by S. Paramjit Singh Sarna (Former President), S. Havinder Singh Sarna (Former President) and S Manjit Singh G K (Present President) of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on all types of advertisement including Print Advertisement, Hoardings, Posters, Booklets, Calendar, Online Advertisement, Audio Advertisement, Visual Advertisement, Outdoor Publicity etc. till date.
2. Provide me the name of the Media incharge of DSGMC and also provide certified copies of his educational qualifications.
3. Provide the Minutes of meeting of Executive Committee in which the appointment of Media incharge approved.
4. How much salary the Media incharge drawing from DSGMC.
5. I want to inspect the Minute’s Register of DSGMC for the year 2010 to till date.

Decision:
The Commission finds that the First Appeal was maintainable and the FAO is inherently flawed. Hence it is set aside. The response dated 01.09.2017 furnished by the PIO is not in line with the provisions of the RTI Act. Under the circumstances, the Commission directs the PIO, DGSMC to provide a revised reply in respect of queries no. 1, 2 and 3. It may be noted that providing just the educational qualification of an employee/representative of a Public Authority cannot be debarred from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act 2005. PIO is also directed to allow inspection of the Minutes Register of DSGMC for the year 2010 on a mutually convenient date and time.
8 CIC/RCFDB/A/2018/134046
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13 Sep, 2019 N. Sivashamugam Vs. CPIO, REPCO Bank, Chennai

Information Sought
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), REPCO Bank, Chennai seeking information on three points namely (i) no. of criminal cases filed against executives/officers of REPCO Bank in HO and Branches from 01.01.2000 to 31.12.2007?, (ii) how many such cases were reported to the Board of Directors then and there? and (iii) details of such cases in a tabulated manner as specified by the appellant.

Decision
The Commission, after hearing the submissions of the respondent and perusing the records, observes that the information sought vide point nos. 1 and 2 of the RTI application pertains to statistical information, and hence, the same can not be denied under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. As regards point no. 3 of the RTI application, the Commission notes that the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide decision dated 03.10.2012 in the case of Shri Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. CIC & others (SLP (C) no. 27734 of 2012 has observed that disciplinary orders and the documents in the course of disciplinary proceedings are personal information within the meaning of Section 8(1)(j). In view of this, the disclosure of the information sought in point no. 3 of the appellant’s RTI application is exempted under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. The Commission, therefore, directs the CPIO to provide the information sought vide point nos.1 and 2 of the RTI application to the appellant within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order under intimation to the Commission.

9 CIC/DGICN/A/2018/110082-BJ
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02 Jul, 2019 Mr. R. Kandasamy Vs. CPIO, ITO, Ward – 2(3), Office of the Income Tax Officer No. 3, Tamil Nadu

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on whether Mr. Thiru. R. Baskar, Owner of Velavan Bus Service Thammampatty had reported about Rs.32.5L in his Income Tax Return for the year 2013-2014 or not.

The CPIO, vide its letter dated 17.01.2018 denied disclosure of information as per Section 8 (1) (d) and 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act, 2005. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 05.02.2018 concurred with the response of the CPIO.

Decision
In this context, the decision of the Commission in Milap Choraria v. CBDT CIC/AT/A/2008/000628 dated 15.06.2009 can be cited wherein it had been held as under:

“15. From the above discussion, it would appear that the Income Tax Returns have been rightly held to be ‘personal information’ exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of section 8(1) of 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.”

The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the decision of Naresh Kumar Trehan v. Rakesh Kumar Gupta in W.P.(C) 85/2010 & CM Nos.156/2010 & 5560/2011 dated 24.11.2014 had observed as under:

“25. Indisputably, Section 8(1)(j) of the Act would be applicable to the information pertaining to Dr Naresh Trehan (petitioner in W.P.(C) 88/2010) and the information contained in the income tax returns would be personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. However, the CIC directed disclosure of information of Dr Trehan also by concluding that income tax returns and information provided for assessment was in relation to a "public activity." In my view, this is wholly erroneous and unmerited. The act of filing returns with the department cannot be construed as public activity. The expression "public activity" would mean activities of a public nature and not necessarily act done in compliance of a statute. The expression "public activity" would denote activity done for the public and/or in some manner available for participation by public or some section of public. There is no public activity involved in filing a return or an individual pursuing his assessment with the income tax authorities. In this view, the information relating to individual assessee could not be disclosed. Unless, the CIC held that the same was justified "in the larger public interest"

The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in the decision of Shailesh Gandhi v. CIC and Ors WP 8753 of 2013 dated 06.05.2015 had held as under

“16......the said contention is thoroughly misconceived as filing of Income Tax Returns can by no stretch of imagination be said to be a public activity, but is an obligation which a citizen owes to the State viz. to pay his taxes and since the said information is held by the Income Tax Department in a fiduciary capacity, the same cannot be directed to be revealed unless the prerequisites for the same are satisfied.

23...........Since the right to privacy has been recognised as a fundamental right to which a citizen is entitled to, therefore unless the conditions mentioned in Section 8 (1) (j) is satisfied, the information cannot be provided.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of CPIO vs. Hemant Kumar Behera W.P.(C) 11658/2017 & CM No. 47383/2017 dated 27.08.2018 held as under:

“17. Mere apprehension that a third party has declared income, which is lower than the true income, cannot justify disclosure of Income Tax Returns in larger public interest.”

The Appellant was not present to contest the submissions of the Respondent or to establish the larger public interest in disclosure which outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter. For redressal of his grievance, the Appellant is advised to approach an appropriate forum.

The Appeal stands disposed accordingly.

10 CIC/KVSAN/A/2018/105317/00794
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03 Jun, 2019 Ram Shabd Ram Vs. The CPIO, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sarojini Vatika, Civil Lines, Distt- Sitapur, U.P. - 261001

Information Sought
1. To furnish the information in the following table from September 2014 to August 2016.
(a) Name &designation of teacher who took leave except CL & Compensatory
(b) Kind of Leave applied
(c) Period from….. to…….
(d) Grounds of leave applied
(e) Whether he/she was given memo as was given to the appellant
(f) Name of contractual teacher & period of service
(g) Number of Contractual TGT SC interviewed
2. Photocopy of rule/ circular of GOI which forbids an employee to get recovery from sickness and forces him/her to resume duties during sickness.

Decision
From a perusal of the relevant case records, it is noted that the reply of the CPIO dated 06.12.2017 is not proper. With regard to point no 1 of the RTI application, no information can be provided as the same is exempted from disclosure u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, being personal information of third parties.

In this regard, the Commission draws the attention of the FAA to the judgment dated 31.08.2017 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Canara Bank Vs. C S Shyam in Civil Appeal No.22 of 2009 which is relevant , wherein the scope of Section 8(1)(j) of the Act in service matters of government employees has been further amplified. The relevant portion of the said judgment is as
under:

“...5) The information was sought on 15 parameters with regard to various aspects of transfers of clerical staff and staff of the Bank with regard to individual employees. This information was in relation to the personal details of individual employee such as the date of his/her joining, designation, details of promotion earned, date of his/her joining to the Branch where he/she is posted, the authorities who issued the transfer orders etc. etc.
(xxx)

“12) In our considered opinion, the issue involved herein remains no more res integra and stands settled by two decisions of this Court in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commissioner & Ors., (2013) 1 SCC 212 and R.K. Jain vs. Union of India & Anr., (2013) 14 SCC 794, it may not be necessary to re- examine any legal issue urged in this
appeal.

13) In Girish Ramchandra Deshpande's case (supra), the petitioner therein (Girish) had sought some personal information of one employee working in Sub Regional Office (provident fund) Akola. All the authorities, exercising their respective powers under the Act, declined the prayer for furnishing the information sought by the petitioner. The High Court in writ petition filed by the petitioner upheld the orders. Aggrieved by all the order, he filed special leave to appeal in this Court. Their Lordships dismissed the appeal and upholding the orders passed by the High Court held as under:-

‘12. 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 ensure/ 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 organisation 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 or 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) In our considered opinion, the aforementioned principle of law applies to the facts of this case on all force. It is for the reasons that, firstly, the information sought by respondent No.1 of individual employees working in the Bank was personal in nature; secondly, it was exempted from being disclosed under Section 8(j) of the Act and lastly, neither respondent No.1 disclosed any public interest much less larger public interest involved in seeking such information of the individual employee and nor any finding was recorded by the Central Information Commission and the High Court as to the involvement of any larger public interest in supplying such information to respondent No.1...”

The afore mentioned decision is squarely applicable to the facts of the instant matter and in view of this, no relief can be ordered on point no 1 of the RTI application.

On point no 2 of the above mentioned RTI application, if such information is available, it should be provided to the appellant.

Based on the above observations, the CPIO is directed to revisit the RTI application and provide a revised reply to point no 2, as per the availability of the records, free of cost to the appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under intimation to the Commission.

11 CIC/DOP&T/C/2017/129415/SD
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07 May, 2019 Prakash Singh Vs. CPIO, DoPT, North Block, New Delhi – 110001.

Information Sought
The Complainant sought information pertaining to the names, designation, official telephone/fax numbers, official email addresses and complete postal address of all the concerned officials of DoP&T right from Assistant to Secretary who were bound to deal with his representation dated 19.11.2016
addressed to Secretary, DoP&T in connection with Office Memorandum no. 20011/1/2012-Estt. (D) vide dated 04.03.2014; time limit fixed for action to be taken on such representations etc.

Decision
Commission observes that the Complainant filed the instant Complaint specifically on the grounds that CPIO has not provided factual information and
sought action against him under Section 20 of RTI Act. However, this bench of the Commission does not find any reason to initiate action under Section 18(2) of RTI Act or Section 20 of RTI Act in the matter as given the nature of the clarification based queries in the RTI application, there is no malafide or deliberate intention apparent on the CPIO’s part in having provided the information as per his wisdom. Moreover, the coordinate bench has also adjudicated in the same case without making any case of deliberate omission on the part of the CPIO.

12 CIC/NINSA/A/2017/183689-BJ
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22 Apr, 2019 Dr. Arvind Kumar Verma Vs. CPIO, National Institute of Ayurveda Madhav Vilas Palace Amer Road, Jaipur – 302002

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 05 points regarding the completion of MD Degree by one Dr. Nirankar Goel from the Respondent Institution, whether he had regularly and continuously pursued the education from 1982 to 1985, etc.

Decision
Moreover, in Union of India v. R. Jayachandran WP (C) 3406/2012 dated 19.02.2014 the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held that passport details, copies of birth certificate and copies of records of educational qualification are personal information, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of individuals unless there was an overbearing public interest in favour of disclosure.

The Commission also referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors, SLP(C) NO. 7526/2009 wherein it was held as under:

"Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counterproductive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information. The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquillity and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties. The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of public authorities prioritising 'information furnishing' at the cost of their normal and regular duties."

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of ICAI vs. Shaunak H. Satya (2011) 8 SCC 781 dated 02.09.2011 had held as under:

“26. We however agree that it is necessary to make a distinction in regard to information intended to bring transparency, to improve accountability and to reduce corruption, falling under Section 4(1)(b) and (c) and other information which may not have a bearing
on accountability or reducing corruption. The competent authorities under the RTI Act will have to maintain a proper balance so that while achieving transparency, the demand for information does not reach unmanageable proportions affecting other public interests, which include efficient operation of public authorities and government, preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and optimum use of limited fiscal resources”

The Appellant was not present to contest the submissions of the Respondent or to establish the larger public interest in disclosure which outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

13 CIC/CCITM/A/2017/182415-BJ
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18 Apr, 2019 Mr. Subramanian K Ansari Vs. CPIO, Dy. Commissioner of Income Tax

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 06 points regarding Cambata Aviation Pvt. Ltd., certified copy of the balance sheet and P/L Account for the last 10 years from 01.04.2008 to 31.03.2017, whether the IT department had received any correspondence in writing regarding the closure of the aforementioned company, if yes, then certified copies of all the correspondence, till date, etc.

Decision
The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the decision of Naresh Kumar Trehan v. Rakesh Kumar Gupta in W.P.(C) 85/2010 & CM Nos.156/2010 & 5560/2011 dated 24.11.2014 while observing that the act of filing returns with the department cannot be construed as public activity held that information contained in the income tax returns would be personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. The relevant extract of the decision is mentioned below:

“25. Indisputably, Section 8(1)(j) of the Act would be applicable to the information pertaining to Dr Naresh Trehan (petitioner in W.P.(C) 88/2010) and the information contained in the income tax returns would be personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. However, the CIC directed disclosure of information of Dr Trehan also by concluding that income tax returns and information provided for assessment was in relation to a "public activity." In my view, this is wholly erroneous and unmerited. The act of filing returns with the department cannot be construed as public activity. The expression "public activity" would mean activities of a public nature and not necessarily act done in compliance of a statute. The expression "public activity" would denote activity done for the public and/or in some manner available for participation by public or some section of public. There is no public activity involved in filing a return or an individual pursuing his assessment with the income tax authorities. In this view, the information relating to individual assessee could not be disclosed. Unless, the CIC held that the same was justified "in the larger public interest".

However, the aforesaid observations were made in reference to individual assesses and not incorporated entities such as listed or private limited companies and other legal entities such as societies. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of Naresh Trehan had clarified on this issue in the following paragraphs:
“20. It has been contended by the petitioners that the expression “personal information” must also extend to information relating to corporate entities. Inasmuch as they may also fall within the definition of expression “person” under the General Clauses Act, 1897 as well as under the Income Tax Act, 1961. However, I am unable to accept this contention for the reason that the expression “personal information” as used in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the Act has to be read in the context of information relating to an individual. A plain reading of the aforesaid clause would indicate that the expression “personal information” is linked with “invasion of privacy of the individual”. The use of the word “the” before the word “individual” immediately links the same with the expression “personal information”.

21. Black’s law dictionary, sixth edition, inter alia, defines the word “personal” as under:- "The word “personal” means appertaining to the person; belonging to an individual; limited to the person; having the nature or partaking of the qualities of human beings, or of movable property."

23. In my view, the aforesaid reasoning would also be applicable to the expression “personal” used in Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. The expression ‘individual’ must be construed in an expansive sense and would include a body of individuals. The said exemption would be available even to unincorporated entities as also private, closely held undertaking which are in substance alter egos of their shareholders. However, the expression individual cannot be used as a synonym for the expression ‘person’. Under the General Clauses Act, 1897 a person is defined to “include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not”. Thus, whereas a person would include an individual as well as incorporated entities and artificial persons, the expression ‘individual’ cannot be interpreted to include such entities. The context in which, the expression “personal information” is used would also exclude it application to large widely held corporations. While, confidential information of a corporation is exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1) (d) of the Act, there is no scope to exclude other information relating to such corporations under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act as the concept of a personal information cannot in ordinary language be understood to mean information pertaining to a public corporation.”

22. A perusal of the above definition also indicates that the ordinary usage of the word “personal” is in the context of an individual human being and not a corporate entity. The U.S. Supreme Court has also interpreted the expression “personal” to be used in the context of an individual human being and not a corporate entity. In the case of Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T Inc: 2011 US LEXIS 1899 the US Supreme Court considered the meaning of the expression “personal privacy” in the context of the Freedom of Information Act, which required Federal Agencies to make certain records and documents publically available on request. Such disclosure was exempt if the records “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the expression
“Personal” used in the aforesaid context could not be extended to corporations because the word “personal” ordinarily refers to individuals. The Court held that the expression “personal” must be given its ordinary meaning. The relevant extract of the said judgment is as under: “Person” is a defined term in the statute; “personal” is not. When a statute does not define a term, we typically “give the phrase its ordinary meaning,” [Johnson v. United States, 559 U.S., 559 U.S. 133, 130 S. Ct. 1265, 176 L. Ed. 2d 1, 8 (2010)]. “Personal” ordinarily refers to individuals. We do not usually speak of personal characteristics, personal effects, personal correspondence, personal influence, or personal tragedy as referring to corporations or other artificial entities.
This is not to say that corporations do not have correspondence, influence, or tragedies of their own, only that we do not use the word “personal” to describe them. Certainly, if the chief executive officer of a corporation approached the chief financial officer and said, “I have
something personal to tell you,” we would not assume the CEO was about to discuss company business. Responding to a request for information, an individual might say, “that's personal.” A
company spokesman, when asked for information about the company, would not. In fact, we often use the word “personal” to mean precisely the opposite of business-related: We speak of personal expenses and business expenses, personal life and work life, personal opinion and a company's view.”

Therefore, it is clear from the above observations that the expression “personal information” as used in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the Act has to be read in the context of information relating to an individual and that the ordinary usage of the word “personal” is in the context of an individual human being and not a corporate entity.

Moreover, taking into consideration, the factual background in which the information was sought, it can undoubtedly be construed that the details were required by the Appellant in the larger public interest of the employees working in the said Company. The issue of non-payment of salary/ wages and other statutory dues to employees was certainly a grave matter which could not be brushed aside especially taking into consideration the turmoil and hardships faced by similar employees of Companies such as Kingfisher Airlines and recently Jet Airways which were once considered as behemoths of the Civil Aviation Sector/ Industry in the wake of the losses incurred by such companies.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Bihar Public Service Commission v. Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi: (2012) 13 SCC 61 while explaining the term “Public Interest” held:

“22. The expression "public interest" has to be understood in its true connotation so as to give complete meaning to the relevant provisions of the Act. The expression "public interest" must be viewed in its strict sense with all its exceptions so as to justify denial of a statutory exemption in terms of the Act. In its common parlance, the expression "public interest", like "public purpose", is not capable of any precise definition. It does not have a rigid meaning, is elastic and takes its colour from the statute in which it occurs, the concept varying with time and state of society and its needs (State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh ([AIR 1952 SC 252]). It also means the general welfare of the public that warrants recognition and protection; something in which the public as a whole has a stake [Black's Law Dictionary (8th Edn.)].”

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Ashok Kumar Pandey vs The State of West Bengal (decided on 18 November, 2003Writ Petition (crl.) 199 of 2003) had made reference to the following texts for defining the meaning of “public interest’, which is stated as under:

“Strouds Judicial Dictionary, volume 4 (IV Edition),'Public Interest' is defined thus:
"Public Interest (1) a matter of public or general interest does not mean that which is interesting as gratifying curiosity or a love of information or amusement but that in which a class of the community have a pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their
legal rights or liabilities are affected."

In Black's Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition), "public interest" is defined as follows :
Public Interest something in which the public, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected. It does not mean anything the particular localities, which may be affected by the matters in question. Interest shared by national government....”

In Mardia Chemical Limited v. Union of India (2004) 4 SCC 311, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while considering the validity of SARFAESI Act and recovery of non-performing assets by banks and financial institutions in India, recognised the significance of Public Interest and had held as under :

“.............Public interest has always been considered to be above the private interest.
Interest of an individual may, to some extent, be affected but it cannot have the potential of taking over the public interest having an impact in the socio-economic drive of the country...........”

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, it is the considered view of the Commission that it cannot be a mute spectator to the pitiable conditions being faced by the employees of the Aviation Company which is seeking shelter under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005. Therefore, considering the sensitivities of the matter as also in the light of the criticality of sustenance issues faced by its employees, the Commission instructs the Respondent to disclose point wise information as held and available with them to the Appellant within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order in the larger public interest.

14 CIC/DENAB/A/2017/167556
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11 Mar, 2019 Shri Ashok Rameshbai Mistry Vs. CPIO, Dena Bank, Surat, Gujarat.

Information sought
The issues under consideration arising out of second appeal dated 18.09.2017 include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through his RTI application dated 20.03.2017and first appeal dated 04.05.2017:
(i) Provide informative list of the Name of NPA Borrower’s loan Account No. along with Capital interest & total remain dues by Bank.
(ii) Provide informative list of the Name of NPA Borrowers along with Case No. failed at Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) at Ahmedabad and any other court of law to recover remain dues from them by Bank.
(iii) I would like to peruse and to take legally certified extract of any portion of above relevant rules & regulation according to my request under RTI Act 2005 and, so you are requested to mutually decide the date, time & venue for such purposes.

Decision
The appellant remained absent and respondent Mr. Rahul Priyadarshi, Chief Manager (Legal), Dena Bank, Surat, attended the hearing through video conferencing. The respondent submitted that the information sought by the appellant does not concern him and the appellant did not describe the purpose of seeking such information. The cumulative information relating to NPA accounts was provided to the appellant vide letter dated 12.04.2017.

The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing the respondent and perusal of the records, feels that the respondent has provided part of the desired information to the appellant. The Commission agrees that the remaining information including the names and account number of the NPA burrowers may not be furnished as the same are held in fiduciary capacity. The same are exempted under sub-section (1) (e) of section 8 of the RTI Act. In view of the absence of the appellant to controvert the contentions of the respondent, the response given by the respondent may be accepted. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.
15 CIC/ERAIL/C/2017/115802/SD
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08 Jan, 2019 Ramesh Ojha Vs. CPIO, Sr. Divl. Personnel Officer, Divisional Railway Manager’s Office, Division Howrah

Information requested
The Complainant sought to know personal details including full name, educational qualification as well as copies marks sheet and certificates form matriculation to highest academic degree, copy of date of birth certificate, name of father as per documentary evidence, permanent address as per service record etc of Shri S K Mukherjee, Sr. DEE(G)/ER/HWH Divn and Shri B K Pan, former Sr. SEE/ER/HWH.

Decision
Commission observes from the perusal of facts on record that the CPIO’s reply is grossly inappropriate as she has offered inspection of such documents to the Complainant that would amount to disclosure of personal information of third parties exempt under Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. In doing so, CPIO has also failed to seek consent of the concerned third parties as per Section 11 of the RTI Act.

In this regard, the Commission draws the attention of CPIO on a judgment dated 31.08.2017 of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Canara Bank Vs. C S Shyam in Civil Appeal No.22 of 2009; wherein the scope of Section 8(1)(j) of the Act in service matters of government employees has been further exemplified.

Adverting to the aforementioned ratio, CPIO is warned to exercise due caution in future.
Total Case uploaded: 189