Appellant’s request for copy of treatment of his wife Ms Shobha in Psychiatry ward was denied u/s 8(1)(j) without calling for comments of the third party - CIC directed the PIO to invite comments from the third party u/s 11 & arrive at a reasoned decision
Date of Decision : 29.12.2016 :
Information sought and background of the case:
The appellant vide RTI application dated 03.06.2015 sought information all record and certified copy of treatment of his wife Ms. Shobha in Psychiatry OPD, Nehru Hospital, PGIMER, Chandigarh. CPIO vide letter dated 23.06.2015 denied information u/s 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. of the RTI act, 2005. The appellant preferred first appeal. FAA vide order dated 27.07.2015 upheld the reply of CPIO. Feeling aggrieved the appellant approached the Commission.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both the parties are present and heard.
The appellant states to be facing trial alongwith his extended family on the charges of Domestic Violence before the CJM Ambala. In this factual backdrop, he states to have sought the information for his effective defence. Per contra, the CPIO reiterates her reply. At this point, the appellant is appraised by the Commission that any relevant document or material as affecting rights of litigating parties can be secured through the process of the Court, subject to the satisfaction of the concerned Court. However, the appellant states that the CPIO omitted to invite comments under Section 11 and thus, diluted the mandate of Section 7(7) of the RTI Act, 2005.
The question posed before the Commission is no longer res integra in view of the decision of Hon’ble Gujrat High Court in Reliance Industries Ltd. versus Gujrat State Information Commission and Ors. [MANU/GJ/7385/2007]. Drawing a harmony between the apparently conflicting provisions of Section 11 and 7(7) of the RTI Act, 2005, the Court thus opined as:
12. Proceedings under Sections 7 and 11 of the Act, 2005: As per Section 6 of the Act, 2005, any applicant can apply for getting information and such application has to be disposed of, as per Section 7 of the Act, 2005. Section 7(7) of the Act, 2005, imposes a duty upon the Public Information Officer that he shall take into consideration a representation made by a third party under Section 11 of the Act, 2005. Section 11 is applicable when information to be disclosed is 'relating to or supplied by a third party' and has been treated as confidential, by that third party. To know, whether information 'relating to or supplied by the third party' has been treated as confidential by that third party, Public Information Officer has to give notice. Public Information Officer cannot unilaterally decide, on its own, that the information, sought for by the applicant, is confidential or not. Whether information has been treated as confidential, by the third party or not, that can be said only by the third party and upon getting such submission in writing or orally, Public Information Officer has to consider them while taking a decision about disclosure of information. Looking to the aforesaid provision of Section 7(7) read with Section 11 of the Act, 2005, it appears that which document or information has been treated as confidential by that third party that ought to be disclosed by the third party in reply of the show cause notice, which must be given by Public Information Officer as stated hereinabove. Submission can be made even orally before the Public Information Officer. These words are sufficient enough to impose duty upon Public Information Officer to give personal hearing to a third party. In fact, Public Information officer if discloses the information in violation of the provisions of the Act, 2005 and if the appeal is preferred by the third party and if he succeeds, it is difficult to get back such information from the original applicant. Public Information Officer or any authority under the Act, 2005 if is deciding the disclosure of the information relating to third party or supplied by the third party, which has been treated as confidential by that third party and if any application for stay of the order is applied, it ought to be granted for a reasonable period, so that the third party can prefer First Appeal or Second Appeal.
After hearing parties and perusal of record, the Commission finds merit in the contention of the appellant inasmuch as the CPIO did not call for comments of the third party (wife) before making a decision under Section 7(7). Hence, the decision of CPIO cannot be sustained and is set aside. The CPIO shall invite comments from the third party u/s 11 and arrive at a reasoned decision. The decision so arrived at by CPIO after considering third party submissions shall be communicated to the appellant. Let the needful be done within 3 weeks of receipt of this order.
The appeal is allowed in the aforesaid terms.
Citation: Shri Parveen Kumar v. CPIO, P G I of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh in F. No.CIC/YA/A/2015/002587