Gist: Wife files multiple police complaints against the husband. She has also filed maintenance cases. Husband approaches police for copy of wife’s complaint to defend his maintenance case. Police refuses the same. Husband files RTI which is initially rejected under the provisions of Sec 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act as disclosure of the same may endanger the life or physical safety of the appellant’s wife !!. CIC refuses to accept the police version and orders the police to give husband a copy of wife’s complaint.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
ROOM NO. 329, SECOND FLOOR, C-WING
August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place,
Tel. No. 91-11-26717356
Date of Hearing : 06.08.2014
Date of Decision : 06.08.2014
Appellant : Shri V. Ayyappan,
Respondent : Shri T.Bairavaswamy,
SP/PIO UT of Pondicherry,
Information Commissioner : Shri Yashovardhan Azad
Relevant fact emerging from appeal:
RTI Application filed on : 25.09.2012
PIO replied on : 24.10.2012
First Appeal filed on : 02.11.2012
First Appellate Authority (FAA) order on : 13.12.2012
Second Appeal received on : 13.02.2013
Appellant sought a copy of the complaint, filed against him by his wife in the Police station at Puducherry with the copy of enquiry report and copies of the statements given by the appellant and Smt. S.P. Nivedha.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both the parties are present. Appellant filed an RTI application on 25.09.2012 seeking copy of the complaint, filed against him by his wife in the Police station at Puducherry with the copy of enquiry report and copies of the statements given by the appellant and Smt. S.P. Nivedha. PIO on 24.10.2012 refused to give information stating therein that the information could not be provided under the provisions of Sec 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act as disclosure of the same may endanger the life or physical safety of the appellant’s wife who resides in Puducherry. The First Appellate Authority vide his order dated 13.12.2012 directed the PIO to furnish a copy of the statement given by the appellant, if recorded, unless the statement was required for any criminal case. Appellant stated that he wanted copies of statement by his wife and the enquiry report in connection with the maintenance case going on in a civil court. He also stated that his wife had filed another complaint against him in Dindigul (Tamil Nadu), copy of which was made available to him through his RTI application.
Respondent stated that on 11.07.2012 a complaint was lodged by the appellant’s wife against the appellant and his parents regarding dowry harassment, safety and security.The appellant was called for inquiry during which both the parties agreed on 28.07.2012 through signed statements, to settle the issue by approaching the family court. Subsequently, the appellant asked for copy of wife’s complaint and the inquiry report which was denied to him by invoking exemption under section 8 (1) (g) of the RTI Act.
It is clear from perusal of records and the statements by the appellant and the respondent during the hearing that the appellant and his wife are engaged in a bitter marital dispute and maintenance case in this regard is ongoing in a civil court. Appellant’s wife filed complaints against the appellant in not one but two police stations. The Puducherry police has refused to give the copy of a complaint by the appellants wife and inquiry report, on grounds of physical safety, by invoking exemption under section 8(1) (g) of the RTI Act. The respondent was not able to clarify as to how the physical danger to the wife’s safety is enhanced by the appellant knowing the contents of her complaint, since the substance of her charges is already known through the contents of the complaint filed in another police station made available to him through another RTI Application. Since the inquiry by Puducherry Police is over and the Complainant is signatory to the letter by the both parties for approaching the family court, due to which inquiry was closed- clearly strengthens his claim to get a copy of the documents. The inquiry is also not required in other cases.
The appellant has stated that he needs the documents for his defence/strengthening his case in the maintenance suit filed in the civil court. Besides, the appellant has not asked for any personal details of his wife but only the contents of documents relating to the charges against him.
In view of above, the Commission does not accept the grounds taken by the respondents for denial of information under Section 8(1) (g) of the RTI Act. The Commission directs the respondents to provide the information sought in the RTI application to appellant, within two weeks of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO of this Commission.
Joint Secretary & Additional Registrar
The people who are fighting with RTI officials in getting the wife’s ITR details, PF details or any other financial details will be rejoice to hear that their RTI’s wont be rejected on the basis of “Third Party Information”.
Because Central Information Commission has ruled that if the marriage between the spouse is subsisting then the information of the spouse wont be THIRD PARTY.
pls read the full judgment below………
Central Information Commission
Room No. 308, August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi-110066
Appellant : Ms Juhi Jadli
Public Authority : Income-tax Department, Noida
Date of hearing : 03.06.2013
Date of Decision : 03.06.2013
Heard today dated 03.06.2013. Appellant not present. The public authority is represented by Shri S.S. Chahal, ITO Ward 1(4), Nodia.
2. By RTI application dated 07.09.2011, the appellant had sought the following information about her husband Shri Shobhit Garg :
(i) Source of income declared by him;
(ii) Details of deductions, such as housing loans, LIC etc., claimed by him;
(iii) Certified copies of the ITRs filed by him for the years 2006-07 to 2010-11.
3. Vide letter dated 09.10.2011, the CPIO had refused to disclose this information on the basis of objection filed by Shri Shobhit Garg. The same view was taken by FAA in order dated 30.01.2012.
4. It appears to me that there is estrangement between the husband and the wife. The wives generally try to collect this information for canvassing their cases in the Family Courts for grant of maintenance. A wife can not be treated as third party in the strict sense of the term, so long as the marriage subsists. However, after divorce, the legal position changes. I am told that marriage still subsists between the appellant and Shri Shobhit Garg. Hence, it will not be correct to deny information on the ground that the appellant is a third party. In the given facts, I order that gross income and net taxable income declared by Shri Shobhit Garg in the last ITR filed by him, may be disclosed to the appellant. No other information is required to be disclosed.
5. This order may be complied with in 04 weeks.
( M.L. Sharma )
Authenticated. Additional copies of the order shall be supplied on application and payment of fees, as per RTI Act, to the CPIO of the Commission.
Dy Registrar Address of the Parties :-
(l)The ITO & CPIO, (2)Ms Juhi Jadli, D/oShri Anil Kumar Sharma
Income tax Department, Aaykar Bhavan, 44, Sevak Ashram Road, Dehradoon
G Block, Sector 20, Uttrakhand
A Staff Reporter – The Telegraph
Guwahati, May 31: A senior police official has been fined by the State Information Commission of Assam for refusing to provide information to a petitioner under the Right to Information Act.
The petitioner had formally moved the police officer twice with his plea.
Commission sources today revealed that on May 15, former Guwahati senior superintendent of police S.N. Singh, recently promoted to the post of deputy inspector-general (northern range), was fined Rs 250 a day.
The commission imposed the fine under Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The police official was taken to task for failing to furnish the first information report (FIR) sought by complainant Tarun Dey of Bhaskar Nagar within 30 days of receiving the petition.
But more than the penalty imposed on him, the observations made by the commission regarding the functioning of the police force are even more damning.
“This is a sad commentary on the functioning of a public office in a democracy, where the public authorities are expected to be responsive to the people,” states the ex parte order, issued by chief information commissioner R.S. Mooshahary and state information commissioner B.K. Gohain.
The order also stated that the fine should be calculated from the date on which the 30-day period set for furnishing the information begins.
Sources said the commission has also issued summons to Singh to appear on June 6, the next date of hearing, when the senior police official may make his submissions as to why the penalty should not be realised from him as calculated before the hearing.
Neither Singh nor any person representing the office of the SSP was present when the order was passed.
Sources explained that Dey had filed a petition before the chief information commissioner, stating that he submitted two applications, dated December 8, 2006, and January 20, 2007, under the RTI Act before the Guwahati city superintendent of police. They had requested the SP to provide him with a copy of an FIR (an ejahar) dated September 12, 2006, lodged by his wife, Jharna Choudhury, and a copy of the petition withdrawing the same FIR.
Despite the submissions, Dey was not provided a copy of the FIR of September 12, 2006 and a certified copy of the withdrawal petition dated September 13, 2006, by the SP.
Dey also said he had made a number of attempts to meet the city SSP but was refused every time. The commission found that it was a clear case of refusal to provide information to the petitioner.
Important CIC Decisions
- CPIO of the Supreme Court pulled up for delayed information and not passing a speaking order.
- Appeal cannot be filed directly with the CIC bypassing the DAA.
- While no department is proscribed from designing an application form;not applying in the prescribed form cannot be the ground for rejection.
- Note sheets containing file notings are an integral part of a file.
- It is true that there is no provision in section 8 of the Act, specifically exempting disclosure of information relating to examination papers;
- When answer papers are evaluated,the authority conducting the exam. And the examiners evaluating the answer papers stand in a fiduciary relationship between each other.
- Such relationship warrants maintenance of confidentiality by both ,of the manner and method of evaluation
- Reasons for rejecting the tender has to be made known.
- Income tax return is in the nature personal information, the disclosure of which may cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of an individual.
- The applicant is performing his normal duties and is not prevented from leading a normal life.
- Request for information under section 7(1) not justified.
- In a single public authority no transfer of application.
- Where the information is not available in the particular form requested, the applicant may be allowed if he desires to inspect the documents.
- The following
- (a) Copy of the notification for recruitment
- (b) Recruitment & Promotion policy
- (c) Panel of names of interviewees and merit list
- (d) Copy of recommendations of selection committee and its approval be given.
- PAN no.is a personal information and may not be given.
- The following
- (a) Certified copy of TE statement (paid copy)
- (b) Certified copy of completed tour itinerary
- (c) Details of meetings attended during the tour be given
- There is no question of denial of information if a public authority is prepared to provide the documents, in the form in which it is available with them.
- Noting in the despatch register showing the despatch of reply / intimation is not enough.
- There has to be actual receipt.
- Bank account details are not to be disclosed to others.
- RTI Act cannot be confused with an instrument for grievance redressal, although the information obtained can be used for this purpose.
- If information is not available in electronic form,it need not be created.
- The assessment reports by the superior officers are personal and confidential information and therefore exempt under section 8(1)(j).
- If the information seeker asks several questions expecting the CPIO to reply in yes or no,the CPIO ought not do so.
- If there is already a provision for seeking information , the applicant can be advised to obtain the information accordingly. There is no question of denial of information in this case.
- Income tax returns are confidential information,relates to third party and are submitted in fiduciary capacity. However, tax assessment is a public action and there is no reason why such orders should not be disclosed.
- Bio-data submitted in the application for appointment is a public document and can be made available. However, medical reports are purely personal to the individuals and can be denied.
- At the appeal stage, an applicant cannot ask for additional information.
- The appellate authority is right in advising the appellant to give specific details about the information / documents sought from the CPIO.
- The cost effectiveness aspect of disclosure of information ought to be kept in mind.
- Information relating to donations,expenditure on transport and salary drawn by the staff can be disclosed.
- Misuse of RTI Act ought to be discouraged.
- As an enlightened citizen,every information seeker should resort to RTI Act responsibly as most people are doing and reaping the benefit of this powerful act.
- Information relating to future course of action which is not in any material form is not information within the definition of information in section 2(f).
- Inspection of records when the process of recruitment is at the interim stage cannot be entertained.
- The Personal Assessment Forms submitted by the staff to the employer in fiduciary relationship cannot be shared.
- The views recorded in confidence by the peers on the matter of performance appraisal may not be disclosed , since it mat lead to personal acrimony.
- Applicant’s entitlement for information is only in respect of categories of information mentioned in section 2(f).
- It is not open to an applicant to ask, in the guise of seeking information, question to the public authority about the nature and quality of their action.
- The RTI Act does not cast on the public authority any obligation to answer queries with prefixes ,such as why,when,what and whether.
- CSIR case: the applicant asked for the followings;
- Information on marks awarded to him by each interview committee member, without disclosing their names;
- The threshold mark fixed by the board for promotion;
- Permission to inspect the records related to his assessment;
- Non-appearance and non-filing of written comments by the respondents led the CIC to issue show cause notice to the CPIO for imposition of fine and instruction to DG CSIR to consider disciplinary action the appellate authority; and instructed to provide the requested information
- On being tendered unconditional apology the CIC reviewed the case and withdrew the notice for the imposition of fine on the CPIO and the recommendation for disciplinary action against the appellate authority.
- On review, the CIC upheld its earlier decision of providing the information to the applicant.
- The applicant asked for status report on complaints stated to have been made in 499 cases to the Deputy Commissioner and SDM
- The CPIO replied that all complaints have been ordered to be filed.
- The decision was upheld by the DAA
- The reply of the CPIO satisfies the requirement of the act, as the CPIO has only passed on the information available with him regarding the status of the complaints.
- It is not for the CIC to decide on the propriety of any action taken on applications.
- The marks awarded by the panel experts to each candidate under different parameters are of confidential nature and this act has been carried out by them in fiduciary capacity, which is exempt u/s 8(1)(e).
- Disclosure of information i.e agreed list would defeat the very purpose of surveillance which is conducted through the established procedure of preparation of Agreed List.
- Keeping some body’s name in the agreed list and rewarding him with promotion and higher postings,albeit to non-sensitive post ,on the other are contradictory.
- There is no reason why the names of officers who were promoted or placed in sensitive positions while they were concurrently under discreet watch i.e “Agreed List” should not be disclosed.
- Conduct of examinations and for identifying and short listing the candidates in terms of technical competence right attitude,etc is a highly confidential activity.Therefore, answer-sheets should not be disclosed .
- The award of marks need not be kept secret.
- True copies of the mark sheets of the successful candidates may be supplied.
- The onus for timely despatch of replies to the applicant lies on the CPIO alone under section 7(1) of the Act.
- If found disproportionately diverting resources of a public authority, information can be denied in the form requested but has nevertheless to be made available in any other convenient form.
- Appellant Shri S.C.Sharma requested for a copy of the order, in which the Union Home Secretary had authorised the special Secretary Home to take action under section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act.
- The information was denied on the ground of being harmful to the security, integrity and sovereignty of India section 8(1) (a).
- CIC- Authorisation by the Union Home Secretary to specific agencies to intercept telephones would not qualify to attract the exemption undersection 8(1)(a)
- From the stand-point of technicality of the RTI Act, the role of APIO is limited to only to receiving applications for information and appeals and transmitting the same to the proper CPIO.
- The CIC does not see any legal difficulty in the CPIO using the services of an APIO to transmit the former’s decision;
- This would not lead to any miscarriage of justice or place any undue restriction on an information seeker’s rights under RTI Act.
- It is,however, cautioned that any order issued by the APIO on behalf of CPIO must clearly state that the former was only transmitting the orders of the latter, and should also state the name and the designation of the PIO on whose behalf the APIO might be acting;
- The appellant sought for specific reasons for denial of promotion and benefits of ACP;
- CIC- CPIO was directed to ascertain from the minutes of the DPC as well as the Screening Committee whether any specific reason has been indicated in the minutes regarding the appellant and communicate the same to him within 15 days.
- The appellant sought for the details of the academic and technical qualifications mentioned in the service book, of certain working and retired employees;
- It was denied on the ground of being personal information;
- CIC- it is rather surprising that CPIO and the appellate authority should have taken the view that details of the qualification of govt. officials is personal in nature and as such cannot be supplied;
- It is the right of every citizen to know about the qualifications of public servants and posts held by them,
- Further even the format in which the appellant has sought for the information is so simple that he same would not attract the provisions of section 7(9) of the RTI Act.
- The appellant sought for various information like the address, the dates of and posts from which postal officials had retired, the amount of pension paid for more than 10 years,
- CPIO rejected the information applying the provisions of section 8(1)(i) .
- Upheld by the CIC
- The appellant sought information regarding the income tax return of certain firm;
- The CPIO informed the appellant that the information relates to third party and the documents could be given after the necessary concurrence of third party as per the act;
- Third party objected to the disclosure which was not accepted by the CPIO and the third party was accordingly informed and advised to appeal;
- The DAA agreed with the contention of the third party that the information sought was a personal information and the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest;
- CIC- income tax returns relates to personal information ,submitted in fiduciary capacity, and cannot be disclosed without the concurrence of third party.