Appellant: Information concerning the account of the Gram Panchayat is not personal information and cannot be denied by bank - CIC: Allegation of fraud cannot be a ground for availing information; individual includes the juristic person
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 28.9.2012 filed by the Appellant, seeking information regarding the signatures of Smt Bina Devi, Sarpanch on the records of the bank concerning the account of the Gram Panchayat with them. The CPIO responded on 29.10.2012 and denied the information. Not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO, the Appellant filed an appeal to the First Appellate Authority on 24.11.2012. In his order dated 26.12.2012, the FAA upheld the CPIO’s reply and stated that the information was being denied under Section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act. The Appellant approached the CIC in second appeal on 5.7.2013.
2. The Appellant was not present in spite of a written notice having been sent to him. However, from his appeal to the Commission, we note that he maintains that information concerning the account of the Gram Panchayat is not personal information and cannot be denied to him. He also alleges that some documents were prepared fraudulently with the forged signatures of the Sarpanch and he needs her signatures on the records of the bank to compare the same with the signatures on the fabricated documents. The Respondents submitted that as per their records, there are two authorised signatories for the account of the Gram Panchayat: the Sarpanch and the Secretary of the Panchayat. They further submitted that they cannot disclose the information concerning the account to the Appellant, who is a third party. The Respondents also stated that the Appellant alleges that some land belonging to his brother was disposed of by the husband of the Sarpanch by forging her signatures. The Appellant has stated in his appeal to the Commission that he needs the signatures of the Sarpanch on the records of the bank to establish in the court that the document for disposal of the above mentioned land was prepared fraudulently. The Respondents stated that the Appellant has also filed a Civil Suit in the Munsif Court on the above issue.
3. We have considered the records and the submissions made by the Respondents before us. We note that the above mentioned allegation of the Appellant cannot become a ground for provision of the information sought by him. We further note that he has filed a case on the issue in the Munsif Court. He is at liberty to seek any document that he needs to establish his case through the court. We would also deal briefly with the Appellant’s contention that the information concerning the account of the Gram Panchayat is not personal information and, therefore, cannot be denied to him. He appears to question the Respondents’ action in invoking Section 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 to deny the information. In this context, we note the following observations, in the context of Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, in the judgment dated 22.11.2011 of the High Court of Delhi in Jamia Millia Islamia Vs. SH. Ikramuddin:“ In the scheme of things as they exist, in my view, the expression “individual” has to be and understood as “person”, i.e., the juristic person as well as an individual.”
4. In view of the foregoing, we see no ground to interfere with the decision of the Respondents to deny information in response to the Appellant’s RTI application dated 28.9.2012.
5. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
6. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Om Prakash Goyal v. Baroda Rajasthan Gramin Bank in File No. CIC/VS/A/2013/001176/SH