30 Important Case Laws on RTI

30 Important Case Laws OR Judgment RTI

30 Important Case Law on RTI OR Information Law

Information law/ RTI is one of the important laws applicable in India. All are have a right to information. Now there is modern technology to acquire information to be collected, stored, used, analyzed. To protect the right of individuals of information there are various laws. The one of them is Right to Information Act, 2000. The Act is established to protect the right to get information of the individuals. The information law governs the extent to the citizens to access the information from the Central Government and other public authorities. The information law is guard to protect from misuse of private and confidential information by the public authorities, employers, media and others. The information law has its scope in other fields of legal practices such as environmental law, public law, employment law and business law.

Now the information related to the government and other public authorities are also available online on their portal. We can get information anywhere anytime by using their portal. There is also law which deals with networking information that is Information Technology Act. The right to information is the fundamental right of the individuals. In this topic there are various judgments. In this article we will focus on top 30 important case laws relating information law.

Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India vs. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, 2020
Facts of the Case

In this case, three appeals were filed which arises from three different Applications filed by respondent, Subhash Chandra Agarwal before Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Supreme Court.

Held

Apex Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the Delhi High Court judgment by directing the Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court to furnish information regarding collegium decision-making, personal assets of judges, correspondence with CJI. No general decision came up relating to the universal disclosure of above-mentioned information.

Also held RTI Applicable To Office Of CJI

UPSC v. Angesh Kumar, AIR 2018

Facts of the case

Some unsuccessful candidates in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2010 approached the High Court for a direction to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to disclose the details of the marks (raw and scaled) awarded to them in Civil Service (Prelims) Examination, 2010. The information in the form of cut-off marks for every subject, scaling methodology, model answers and complete results of all candidates were also sought.

Judgment

The Court read the inherent limitation in Sections 3 and 6 as pertaining to revelation of information that is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information. UPSC was accordingly directed to disclose the raw marks as well as the model answers of the questions in the examination. The Supreme Court referred to the problems in showing evaluated answers sheets in the UPSC Civil Services Examination in Prashant Ramesh Chakkarwar v. UPSC, 2013.

N N Dhumane v. PIO, Department of Post, 2018

Facts of the case

The order of CIC in the instant case is a remarkable one as it condemns the act of Department of Posts in denying payment of pension for want of Aadhaar Card. Other key observation made by the CIC in the case was that payment of pension is a matter of life or liberty under the RTI Act and applications relating to payment of Pension shall be disposed by the Public Information Officers within 48 hours. The Aadhaar card is required for pension has already provided under the RTI Act 2005 as per the Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act 2005, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of an individual. The SSP Ahmednagar has not furnished the names of 55 pensioners and he has taken shelter of provisions of Section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act. The furnishing names of 55 pensioners does not amount to right to privacy. It is open fact and withholding the names 55 pensioners is a breach of RTI Act 2005.

Judgment
The Court held that citizens cannot be forced to produce their Aadhaar card to receive government welfare scheme benefits. This Court had further clarified that such a compulsion couldn’t be made since that was in contravention of the citizens’ fundamental rights. Pension payment cannot be denied for want of Aadhaar card.

Union of India v. Chief Information Commissioner, 2017

Facts of the case

The petitioner in the case has challenged the order of CIC, whereby the CIC declared, “the Ministers in the Union Government and all State Governments as ‘public authorities’ under section 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005.

Judgment

The Delhi High Court set aside the order of CIC and was the opinion that the directions issued by the CIC in the case was beyond the scope of CIC. Moreover the question need not arise at all in the first instance itself.

The Registrar, Supreme Court v. R S Mishra, 2017

Fact of the case

In April 2010, a former schoolteacher, R.S. Misra, filed an RTI request with the Supreme Court Registry. He had earlier sent two letters to different Justices, essentially demanding redress in a case before the apex court that he had already lost. In an evident attempt at using RTI to fight a judicial battle already lost, he sought “action taken” reports on his letters. The Registry could have lawfully disposed of this RTI request by simply stating that no such information was available. Instead, the Registry rejected the application, and asked Mr. Mishra to apply under the Supreme Court Rules. Mr. Mishra challenged this response before the then Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.

Judgment

At issue was the right of citizens to get information from the Supreme Court , and by implication, India’s higher judiciary, which has strongly resisted the RTI. The apex court summarily rejects RTI requests, and insists that applicants exclusively request information under its administrative rules (Supreme Court Rules) framed in 1966, and re-issued with minor changes in 2014. To see why the High Court’s judgment strengthens a culture of opacity in the higher judiciary, we need to delve into the Supreme Court’s engagement, or rather persistent non-engagement with the RTI.

Reserve Bank of India v. Jayantilal Mistry (Supreme Court, 2015)

Facts of the case

In this case, the interesting issue that was raised was whether all the information sought for under the Right to Information Act, 2005 can be denied by the Reserve Bank of India and other Banks to the public at large on the ground of economic interest, commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship with other Bank on the one hand and the public interest on the other?

Judgment

The RBI in the case took the stand that the information sought for was exempted under Section 8(1) (a), (d) and (e) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Moreover, as the regulator and supervisor of the banking system, the RBI has discretion in the disclosure of such information in public interest.
While allowing the appeal the Supreme Court in the case held that in the case the RBI does not place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the Financial institutions because, the reports of the inspections, statements of the bank, information related to the business obtained by the RBI are not under the pretext of confidence or trust. In this case neither the RBI nor the Banks act in the interest of each other.

Adesh Kumar v. Union of India (Delhi High Court), 2014

Facts of the case

In the case, the Petitioner was aggrieved by denial of information under the RTI Act by the concerned Public Information Officer in the case. FIR had been lodged against the Petitioner during his tenure of service and subsequently, a charge sheet, against the petitioner was submitted. On receipt of charge sheet, the Petitioner applied for information under the RTI Act pertaining to sanction of prosecution against him.

However, the requested information was rejected by the CPIO claiming that there was no obligation to provide the same by virtue of Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.

Judgment

The scheme of the RTI Act, its objects and reasons indicate that disclosure of information is the rule and non-disclosure the exception. A public authority which seeks to withhold information available with it has to show that the information sought is of the nature specified in Section 8 RTI Act. The burden is on the public authority to show in what manner the disclosure of such information would ‘impede’ the investigation. Merely, citing that the information is exempted under Section 8(1)(h) of the Act would not absolve the public authority from discharging its onus as required to claim such exemption. whether the information sought by the petitioner is relevant or necessary, is not relevant or germane in the context of the Act; a citizen has a right to information by virtue of Section 3 of the Act and the same is not conditional on the information being relevant.

CBSE Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay (2011) 8 SCC 497.

Fact of case
Whether an examinee’s (Students) right to information under the RTI Act includes a right to inspect his evaluated answer books in a public examination and taking certified copies of the same. The examining body,-CBSE,- had claimed that it held the information in a fiduciary relationship and hence this was exempt under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act.

Judgment

Section 22 of RTI Act provides that the provisions of the said Act will have effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time in force. Therefore the provisions of the RTI Act will prevail over the provisions of the bye-laws/rules of the examining bodies in regard to examinations. As a result, unless the examining body is able to demonstrate that the answer-books fall under the exempted category of information described in clause (e) of section 8(1) of RTI Act, the examining body will be bound to provide access to an examinee to inspect and take copies of his evaluated answer-books, even if such inspection or taking copies is barred under the rules/bye-laws of the examining body governing the examinations. It cannot, therefore, be said that the examining body is in a fiduciary relationship either with reference to the examinee who participates in the examination and whose answer-books are evaluated by the examining body. The Court ruled that corrected answer sheets were information which should be provided to students who seek them under RTI.

Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Chief Information Commissioner and ors., 2013
Facts of the case
Whether the information pertaining to a Public Servant in respect of his service career and also the details of his assets and liabilities, movable and immovable properties, can be denied 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.
Judgment
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.” The Apex Court held that copies of all memos, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment, assets, income tax returns, details of gifts received etc. by a public servant are personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act and hence exempted and cannot be furnished under RTI Act.

R.K. Jain Vs. Union of India JT 2013

Facts of the case
The information requested was an inspection of adverse confidential remarks against ‘integrity’ of a member of Tribunal and follow up actions taken on issue of integrity. Exemption was claimed on the basis of Section 8 (1) (j).

Judgment

Inter alia relying upon the ruling made in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande case, the information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j). read with section 11 of the RTI Act. Under Section 11(1), if the information relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by the third party, and if the Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer intends to disclose any such information or record on a request made under the Act, in such case after written notice to the third party of the request, the Officer may disclose the information, if the third party agrees to such request or if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.

Canara Bank Versus CS Shyam and ors. Civil appeal no. 22 of 2009

Facts of the case

Information regarding transfer and posting of the entire clerical staff from 01.01.2002 to 31.07.2006 in all the branches of Canara Bank. This information was in relation to the personal details of individual employees 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.

Judgment

The Supreme Court disagreed with the order of the Central Information Commission, and the Kerala High Court. It did not give any reasons but effectively ruled that in the light of the Girish Deshpande judgement it ruled against information being given. It has truncated Section 8 (1) (j) and ruled that all personal information of public servants including details of transfers is covered by Section 8 (1) (j). This is a truncated reading of the Section 8 (1) (j) and cannot be justified.

Harinder Dhingra v. Bar Association, (CIC 2016)
Facts of the case
In the instant case, the appellant sought information pertaining to the numbers of complaints against advocates, cases disposed, and violation of the Advocates Act.
Judgment
The commission held that the Bar Council is a statutory body that was constituted as per the Advocates Act. The purpose of which is to protect the ethical standards of advocates and punish members for misconduct. It was held that Bar Councils are liable to provide information as per the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Shri Y N Prasad v. PIO, Ahlmad Evening Court, 2017
Facts of the case
In the case, the appellant had sought information relating to judicial proceedings to which he was not a party.
Judgment
The Commission held that judicial proceedings and records are public records as per the Right to Information Act, 2005. Here, the appellant in this situation had every right to obtain the information he sought for. Moreover, the Public information officer was directed by the Chief Information Commission to offer proper inspection of the judicial record at a suitable time and day for both the concerned parties.

Jiju Lukose v. State of Kerala (Kerala High Court, 2014)
Facts of the case
In the case, a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to upload the copy of the FIR in the website of the police station and to make available copies of the FIR to the accused immediately on registration of the FIR was sought for. The Petitioner had alleged that inspite of the FIR being registered, the petitioner received its copy only after 2 months. Till the petitioner could obtain a copy of the FIR, the petitioner and his family members were in dark about the nature of the allegations levelled against the petitioner.
Petitioner’s further contended in the case that in view of the Right to Information Act, 2005 all public officers were under obligation to put all information recorded in the public domain. The FIR which is lodged is to be put on the website of the police station, so that anyone can assess the FIR including a person staying outside the country.
Judgment
The CIC in the case held that FIR is a public document, however, where an FIR is covered by the provisions under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, it need not be disclosed to the citizens till investigation is completed. But it can be claimed by the Informant and the accused as per legal provisions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as a matter of legal right.
The provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 are specific to this effect, that is, the supply of copy of FIR to the accused is contemplated only at a stage after proceedings are being initiated on a police report by the competent Magistrate.
That application for copy of the FIR can also be submitted by any person under the 2005 Act. It is however, relevant to note that whether in a particular application police authorities are claiming exemption under 8(1) of the RTI Act is a question which has to be determined by the police authorities by taking appropriate decision by the competent authority. In event no such decision is taken to claim exemption under Section 8 of the 2005 Act, the police authorities are obliged to provide for copy of the FIR on an application under the RTI Act.

Vishwas Bhamburkar v. PIO, Housing & Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (CIC, 2018)

Facts of the case
In this recent case taken up by the Chief Information Commission, Munirka, New Delhi (CIC), the CIC was confronted with two centric issues under the Right to Information Act, 2005. One pertaining to word limit in RTI application and the other relating to denial of information on lack of producing identity proof by the Applicant.

Judgment

The CIC in the case held that the impugned application was not hit by any exception under the Right to Information Act. That the CPIO in the case raised suspicion about the citizenship of the applicant without explaining why he was suspecting. There was nothing to justify his suspicion. That the CPIO failed to justify the denial of information, as he could not site any clause of exception under Section 8 (exemption from disclosure of information) or Section 9 (grounds for rejection to access in certain cases).

Shahzad vs Department Of Posts, 2018

Facts of the case

The appellant sought information on certified copy of the gazette notification which superseded the Department of Posts (Junior Hindi Translator & Senior Hindi Translator) Recruitment Rules, 1996 notified on 05.12.1996; certified copies of the gradation/seniority lists of the senior translators maintained/issued since 1983 to 2015 by the postal directorate; certified copies of the gradation/seniority lists of the junior translators maintained/issued since 1983 to 2015 by the postal directorate; certified copy of the gazette notification no. 20/2/79-SPB-1 dated 11.01.1983 regarding the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department (Hindi Translators Grade-1, Grade-2, Grade-3 and Hindi Typists) Recruitment Rules, 1983. Part information was provided by the CPIO and transferred the application to the concerned authority. The appellant approached this Commission since he did not receive any information. The CPIO and other section of the public authority kicked the RTI request on point B2 to each other branches and ultimately denied it.

Judgment

In the case, the CIC noted that the Respondent Department’s claim that concerned files were are not traceable proves the fact they had it in their possession, which binds them to provide the information by searching the same. The Commission also observed that frequent reference to ‘missing files’ as an excuse to deny the information is a major threat to transparency, accountability and also major reason for violation of Right to Information Act, 2005. Millions of RTI applications might have been rejected by PIOs on this ground during the last 11 years of RTI regime.
It was also held that it is the duty of the information officer concerned to provide information, failing which is he or she inefficient and ineffective in his duties and obligations under the RTI, 2005.

The State of U.P. v. Raj Narain and others, 1975
Facts of the case
Raj Narain, an Indian national, filed an election petition before the Allahabad High Court, alleging misuse of public finances by a political party for the re-election of the Prime Minister of India. For proving these allegations, he summoned the State Government of Uttar Pradesh to produce a document called Blue Book, which contained security guidelines for the protection of the Prime Minister in times of travel. In response, an official of the Home Security of Uttar Pradesh was instructed to claim a non-disclosure privilege under Section 123 of the Evidence Act. It states that “no one shall be permitted to give any evidence derived from unpublished official records relating to any affair of State except with the permission of the Officer at the Head of the Department concerned who shall give or withhold such permission as he thinks fit.” Upon the official’s failure to timely submit an affidavit, Narain argued that the government was obligated to produce the Blue Book because the government did not raise its non-disclosure privilege and that the document did not relate to the affairs of the State.

Judgment

The Supreme Court of India upheld the High Court’s decision to disclose a government record. Raj Narain requested the government of the State of Uttar Pradesh to disclose the document “Blue Book” which contained security guidelines regarding the Prime Minister of India’s travel. Government officials declined to produce the document, claiming that it was an unpublished official record and against the public interest. The Court reasoned that the document was not an unpublished official record since the government official failed to file an affidavit to claim it as such. In addition, the Court reasoned that it had the authority to determine whether a document is of public interest.

S. P. Gupta v. Union of India, AIR 1982

Facts of the case

The foregoing case dealt with a number of petitions involving important constitutional questions regarding the appointment and transfer of judges and the independence of judiciary. One of the issues raised was regarding the validity of Central Government orders on the non-appointment of two judges. To establish this claim, the petitioners sought the disclosure of correspondence between the Law Minister, the Chief Justice of Delhi, and the Chief Justice of India.

However, the state claimed privilege against disclosure of these documents under article 74(2) of the Indian Constitution, which provides that the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers to the President cannot be inquired into in any court, and section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act, which provides that evidence derived from unpublished official records on state affairs cannot be given without the permission of the head of the concerned department. Section 162 of the Evidence Act provides that a witness summoned to produce a document before a court must do so, and the court will decide upon any objection to this.

Judgment

In a case decided by Justice Bhagwati, the Supreme Court of India rejected the government’s claim for protection against disclosure and directed the Union of India to disclose the documents containing the correspondence. An open and effective participatory democracy requires accountability and access to information by the public about the functioning of the government. Exposure to the public gaze in an open government will ensure a clean and healthy administration and is a powerful check against oppression, corruption, and misuse or abuse of authority. The concept of an open government is the direct emanation from the right to know, which is implicit in the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. Therefore, the disclosure of information in regard to government functioning must be the rule and secrecy the exception, justified only where the strictest requirement of public interest demands it.
With respect to the contention involving Article 74(2), the Court held that while the advice by the Council of Ministers to the President would be protected against judicial scrutiny, the correspondence in this case between the Law Minister, the Chief Justice of Delhi, and the Chief Justice of India was not protected merely because it was referred to in the advice.

Indian Express Newspaper (Bombay) Pvt. Ltd. and others v. Union of India and others, 1985

Facts of the case

The petitioners in this case were companies, employees, and shareholders thereof, as well as trusts engaged in the publication of newspapers. They challenged the import duty on newsprint under the Customs Tariff Act 1975 and the auxiliary duty under the Finance Act 1981, as modified by notifications under the Customs Act 1962 with effect from March 1, 1981. Prior to this notification, newsprint had enjoyed exemption from customs duty.

The petitioners contended that the imposition of this duty had an adverse effect on costs and circulation and, therefore, had a crippling effect on freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution and the freedom to practice any trade or occupation under Article 19(1)(g). They further asserted that no public interest justified such an interference with these fundamental rights because the foreign exchange position of India was comfortable at the time. Finally, they submitted that the classification of newspapers into small, medium, and large newspapers violated the principle of non-arbitrariness under Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law).
The government argued that the burden of cost borne by the newspapers and the position of foreign exchange reserves were irrelevant considerations. The public interest involved in taxation was to increase the revenue of the government, a burden that is borne by all citizens of the country. It asserted that the exemption granted to newsprint was not justified and, therefore, could be removed by the government.

Judgment

The Supreme Court of India observed that the government was indeed empowered to levy taxes affecting the publication of newspapers because such publication could be characterized as an industry and must be subject to the same levies as other industries. It also allowed that the classification into small, medium, and large based on economic considerations had a rational nexus with the objective of taxation and could not be considered arbitrary. However, where the power of taxation encroaches upon the freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a), the restriction on the freedom must be within reasonable limits.

Reasonable limits have been outlined in Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution, wherein “public interest” is a ground that may be taken to restrict freedom of expression. The Court concluded that two basic principles must be borne in mind: first, newspapers enjoy the benefits of government services like all other industries and must accordingly contribute a reasonable share of government revenue through taxation; and second, the burden of taxation must not be excessive.

Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, 2015

Facts of the case

Police arrested two women for posting allegedly offensive and objectionable comments on Facebook about the propriety of shutting down the city of Mumbai after the death of a political leader. The police made the arrests under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 (ITA), which punishes any person who sends through a computer resource or communication device any information that is grossly offensive, or with the knowledge of its falsity, the information is transmitted for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, insult, injury, hatred, or ill will.
The main issue was whether Section 66A of ITA violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. As an exception to the right, Article 19(2) permits the government to impose “reasonable restrictions . . . in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense.” The Petitioners argued that Section 66A was unconstitutional because its intended protection against annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, or ill-will fall outside the purview of Article 19(2).

Judgment

The Supreme Court of India invalidated Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 in its entirety. The Court held that the prohibition against the dissemination of information by means of a computer resource or a communication device intended to cause annoyance, inconvenience or insult did not fall within any reasonable exceptions to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

The Court also addressed whether Section 66A is capable of imposing chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression. It held that because the provision fails to define terms, such as inconvenience or annoyance, “a very large amount of protected and innocent speech” could be curtailed.

Based on the forgoing reasons, the Court invalidated Section 66A of ITA in its entirety as it violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

Namit Sharma v. Union of India, 2012

Facts of the case

Sections 12(5), 12(6), 15(5), and 15(6) of India’s Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 address the requirements of and restrictions on individuals appointed to Information Commissions. The original petitioner, Namit Sharma, alleged that the eligibility criteria were nonetheless vague and ultra vires the Constitution. The question before the Supreme Court was whether its previous reading into the RTI Act of a judicial experience requirement constituted “an error apparent on the face of the record”.

Judgment

The Supreme Court of India held that it was ultimately for Parliament to decide whether it was appropriate to read into the Right to Information (RTI) Act a requirement that appointees to the Information Commission possess judicial qualifications and not the Judiciary. The Court reasoned that the Information Commissions do not exercise judicial powers, rather administrative ones and further, that not reading this requirement into the Act did not offend the doctrine of equality firstly because the “reading into” of words not intended by Parliament is “contrary to the principles of statutory interpretation recognized by this Court” and, secondly, the relevant sections of the Act did not “discriminate against any person in the matter of appointment”.

Shri Vijay Kamble v. Custom Department, Mumbai, 2009

Facts of the case

The appellant asked for copies of show cause notices and other documents during the proceedings by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and currently under adjudicating by Commissioner of Customs (Exports). CPIO and the appellant authority declined to disclose the information variously citing sections 8(1)d, 8(1)h and 8(1)j of the RTI Act.

Judgment

It was held that RTI cannot be invoked to access the information related to that proceedings. If intervention for disclosure of the information germane to an outgoing adjudication process is allowed. It will lead to questions being asked about proceeding before judicial courts and even the superior courts. This should go against the scheme of separation of powers under Constitution of India.

Rakesh Kumar Gupta v. Income Tax Appellant Tribunal (ITAT), 2007

Facts of the case

The information sought by the appellant raises a very important question about whether under the Right to Information Act it is permissible to access information held by another public authority which acts in a judicial capacity, especially when the information pertains to its orders in that judicial proceedings and actions thereto. There may be other tribunals whose orders and records could similarly sought to be accessed through the Right to Information Act. This matter should, therefore, be considered by the full bench of the Commissioner.

Judgment

It was held that judicial authority must function with total independence and freedom, should it be found that the action initiated under the RTI Act impinges under the authority of that judicial body, the Commission will not authorize the use of RTI Act for any such disclosure requirement. Section 8(1) (b) of the RTI Act is quite clear, which gives a total discretion to the court or the tribunal to decide as to what should be published.

D.P. Maheshwari v. CBI, 2009

Facts of the case
The appellant sought the copy of SP’s, CBI report. In response to the application, SP, CBI responded that SP’s report is an confidential document and hence exempted under section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act. CBI argued that the investigation report have details of the personal information of many persons and it’s disclosure will amount to invasion of privacy and thus qualify for exemption under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

Judgment

The plea of exemption under section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act cannot be applied as the appellant is asking for the information about his own case. Even if the report contains personal information about others, the principle of severability under section 10(1) can be applied. The Commission agreed that disclosure of complete report may impede the process of information and amount to invasion of privacy of the persons mentioned in the report. As such section 8(1)(g) is applicable. However, since the appellant is not the accused the information regarding him cannot be held to be such as to be impede the process of investigation and prosecution. Accordingly part of information exonerating the appellant may be provided as per Sub-section 1 of Section 10 of the RTI Act.

Mangla Ram Jat v. PIO, Banaras Hindu University, 2008

Facts of the case

In this case the Commission explained it’s role, ambit and scope of exemption and the context of the RTI Act. The Commission is conscious of the fact that it has been established under the Act and being an adjudicating body under the Act, it cannot take upon itself the role of the legislature and import new exemptions and substitute their own views for those of Parliament. The Act leaves no such liberty with the adjudicating authorities to read law beyond what it is stated explicitly.

Judgment

Right to information as part of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression is well established in our constitutional jurisprudence. The Commission is of the view that the Commission, an adjudicating body which is a creation of the Act, has no authority to import new exemptions and in the process curtail the fundamental rights of information of citizens.

Dhananjay Tripathi v. Banaras Hindu University, 2016

Facts of the case

The applicant had applied for information relating to the treatment and subsequent death of a student in a university hospital due to alleged negligence of the doctors attending him. The appellant was, however, denied the information by the PIO of the university saying that the information sought could not be provided under section 8 (1)(g) of the RTI Act. No further reasons as to how the information sought could not be provided under the RTI Act was given.

Judgment

The Commission has held that quoting the provisions of section 8 (1) of the RTI Act to deny the information without giving any justification or grounds as to how these provisions are applicable is simply not acceptable, and clearly amount to malafide denial of legitimate information.

The public authority must provide reasons for rejection the particular application. The Commission further held that not providing the reasons of how the application for information was rejected according to a particular provision of the Act would attract penalties under section 20(1) of the Act.

Shri R.B. Sharma v. DGCEI, New Delhi, 2007

Facts of the case
The appellant sought all documents including file noting pertaining to sanction of reward to the applicant. The CPIO denied the information under section 8 (1)(g) of the RTI Act, contending that the disclosure would expose the source of information and also endanger the life and the Physical safety of the officers who handled and processed the matter. The appellant authority upheld the decision of CPIO.

Judgment

The appellant may be allowed inspection of the relevant file by the respondent with the proviso that the respondent shall be free to apply the severability clause under section 10(1) of the RTI Act withhold from disclosure that part of the information in the file which is unconnected with the appellant.

Shri Rajesh Mannalal Katariya v. Addl. Commissioner of Income Tax, Pune

Facts of the case
The appellant sought information regarding confidential reports submitted by lower formations to higher formations, which was denied by the respondent to the appellant. The appellant approach the CIC for seeking the information.

Judgment

It was held that the decision of the respondents not to disclose the requested information valid under the provisions of the RTI Act. The appellant may should be wish, approach the CBDT for the information, who will no-doubt process the case under the provisions of the RTI Act for a decision about disclose or otherwise.

S.K. Lal v. Ministry of Railways, 2006

Facts of the case

The applicant has filed five applications to the railway authorities asking for “all the records” regarding various services and categories of staff in the railways. The public authority, however, did not provide him the information requested.

Judgment

The CIC observed that though the RTI Act allows citizen to seek any information other than the 10 categories exempted under section 8, it does not mean that the public authorities required to entertain to all sort of frivolous applications.

Shri B S Manian v. Department of posts, 2007

Facts of the case
The appellant who was the main offender in the fraud case sought certain information regarding Disciplinary proceedings initiated against him. The CPIO has refused to provide the documents asked for under section 8 (1)(h) & (g) of the RTI Act, 2005.
Judgment

A disciplinary action against the appellant is contemplated on the basis of the charge sheet memo issued to him under the CCS (CCA) rules. The denial of information sought under section 8 (1)(h) of the RTI Act is therefore justified.

Sarvesh Kaushal v. F.C.I. and others, 2006

Facts of the case

The appellant had applied for documents relating to the departmental enquiry launched against him in a corruption case.

Judgment

The CIC rejecting the appeal, held that the departmental enquiry, which was in progress against him, was a pending investigation under law, and the same attracted the provisions of section 8 (1)(h) of the RTI Act. Therefore, there is no question of disclosing any information relating to the prosecution, the CIC noted.

Reference

  • www.scobserver.in
  • https://www.vakilno1.com/legal-news/important-judgments-on-right-to-information.html
  • https://www.livelaw.in/