After FAA’s orders, the information which was initially denied by the PIO was provided – CIC cautioned the FAA to strictly follow provisions of the RTI Act while disposing of appeals and pass a speaking order, after giving a notice to the third party
The appellant sought information regarding plot no. 913/1,2&3 of Dhokmardi, its approved plan, completion/occupancy certificate, inspection report of the inspecting authority for verification of construction, etc.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both parties are present and heard through video conferencing. The appellant filed an RTI application on 10.09.2013, seeking the above information. On not receiving any reply from the PIO within prescribed time, the appellant filed first appeal. Chief Officer vide letter dt. 22.09.2013 invoked Section 11 and sought permission from M/s Shreejee Warehouse & Logistic Service whether the information can be provided to the appellant. The FAA in his order directed PIO to provide information to the appellant within 15 days free of cost. Chief Officer vide letter dt. 10.12.2013 provided the copies of the documents sought by the appellant. The appellant stated that despite the FAA’s order, complete information has not been provided to him. He stated that the copies have been provided to him, but the approved drawings have not been provided. On query by the Commission whether the information sought by the appellant was regarding his own plots, the respondent replied in the negative. On query as to why was the information relating to a third party’s plots provided to the appellant, the respondent stated that the same were provided in compliance of the FAA’s orders.
After hearing both the parties and on perusal of record, the Commission notes with serious concern that FAA failed to act as per provisions of the RTI Act. The CPIO, initially, did not provide the information sought by the appellant and invoked Section 11 of the Act. But it was after FAA’s orders that the information, which was correctly denied by the CPIO initially, was provided to the appellant, as per the respondent’s submission before the Commission. The FAA, being a quasi judicial body, should have gone into aspects like whether the information can be provided to the appellant or not, but the FAA did not do so. Information pertaining to a third party has been divulged to the appellant when no larger public interest has been established by the appellant. No further information is to be provided to the appellant. The Gujarat High Court in Reliance Industries Ltd. V. Gujarat State Information (AIR 2007 Guj 203) explained the procedure to be followed when the order is against the third party,
“16. Procedure to be followed when order is against third party: Right to get information and right to treat the particular information as confidential is to be seen through the provisions of the Act, 2005 by Public Information Officer before disclosing the information because once the information is disclosed, which is confidential, it is extremely difficult for the higher/Appellate Courts to put the clock back. Release of information is like air or smell. Once it is allowed to spread over, it cannot be called back, by Appellate Forums. … There is no restriction upon applicant, for further transmission of information, after getting the same. … Once information is allowed to go in the hand of applicant, it is irreversible process…”
The Commission, therefore, cautions the FAA to strictly follow provisions of the RTI Act, in future, while disposing of appeals and pass a speaking order, after taking due cognizance of the provisions of the Act. The Administrator, UT of Dadar & Nagar Haveli is directed to take note of the manner in which the FAA has dealt with the instant case. The Deputy Registrar of this Bench is directed to send a copy of this order to the Administrator, UT of Dadar & Nagar Haveli for necessary action. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Shri Manish Kumar Singh v. Silvassa Municipal Council in F.No. CIC/YA/A/2014/001522