Call data records related to mobile phones which are official phones provided to public servants were denied claiming that it is third party information barred u/s 8(1)(j) - CIC: denial upheld as no larger public interest established by the appellant
The applicant has sought the following information:-
(1) CUG Mobile Phone SIM connections bearing no. 9497990354 to 9497990485 (132 no.’s) whether it is issued to Government employee connection or provide individual connection.
(2) Bills/amount generated from CUG to CUG are paid by whom.
(3) Calls from CUG to other private phones charges are paid by whom.
(4) The call date records of mobile no. 9497990370(CUG connection) from the same group phone i.e. (calls from CUG to CUG) and No.’s of messages sent by the connection holder from the date of 01-05-11 to 20-12-11.
(5) Call data records of Mobile No. 9497990376 (CUG connection) from the same group phone i.e. (calls from CUG to CUG) and No.’s of messages sent by the connection holder from the date of 20-1-12 to 20-4-12.
(6) Whether the same CUG sim connection can be used by the user (Government employee)after his retirement period from service.
(7) When this Government CUG connection converted into Private Capacity.
Grounds for the Second Appeal: The CPIO has not provided the desired information.
Relevant Facts emerging during the Hearing held on 16/01/2014:The following were present
Appellant: Mr. V. I. Haris through VC M: 9847277725Respondent: Mr. J Mathew CPIO through VC M: 9446343430The appellant stated that he needs the CDR of mobile nos. 9497990370 for the period01/05/2011 to 20/12/2011 & 9497990376 for the period 20/01/2012 to 20/04/2012. He further stated that the said mobiles phones are official phones provided to public servants and hence the information cannot be denied. The CPIO stated that the mobile phones are registered in the name of the Director General of Prosecution and they had carried out the process as outlined under Section 11 of the RTI Act but the subscriber has objected to the supply of information on the grounds that it is personal information and can impede the process of investigation/prosecution of offenders. The subscriber has claimed exemption under Section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; & (j) of the RTI Act. The appellant contended that these numbers are provided to a closed user group (CUG) and he only needs the CDR of these two numbers for intra-group calls and not for any outside call. He further argued that he is merely seeking the CDR and not the voice transcript. The CPIO stated that the matter may be adjourned and an opportunity given to him to make detailed submissions.
Interim Decision notice dated 16/01/2014:
As requested by the CPIO it is decided to grant adjournment and invite written submissions from him demonstrating in detail his stand on the issue at hand, so that full facts are brought on record. Accordingly, the CPIO should furnish his submissions to the Commission (endorsing a copy to appellant) by 15/02/2014.The hearing is adjourned for 21/02/2014 at 04:00 pm.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 21/02/2014:
The following were present
Appellant: Mr. V. I. Haris through VC M: 9847277725
Respondent: Mr. J Mathew CPIO through VC M: 9446343430
The appellant emphasized that the mobile phones belong to a public authority and are provided to public servants and hence they relate to public activity and not to any personal purpose and hence he is entitled to the information about the CDR. He reiterated that all he needs is the CDR and not the transcripts of the voice recordings. The CPIO informed that in addition to the earlier communication they have received a letter from the third party stating that the information is exempt under Section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; of the RTI Act as its disclosure may endanger the physical safety of the concerned persons.
Perusal of the facts of the case indicate that the information sought by the appellant comprise call data records related to mobile phones which are official phones provided to public servants. The respondents have informed that the mobile phones are registered in the name of the Director General of Prosecution and upon carrying out the process as outlined under Section11 of the RTI Act, it was revealed that the subscriber objected to the supply of the information on the grounds that it is personal information and can impede the process of investigation/prosecution of offenders. The respondent had vide their letter dated 17/05/2012denied the information to the appellant on the ground that it relates to third party and had claimed exemption under 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. At this point it is pertinent to note that the primary factor governing the information is that it relates to third party. Section 11 deals with third party information and the circumstances when such information can be disclosed and the manner in which it is to be disclosed, if so decided by the competent authority. Under Section 11(1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information: if the information relates to or has been supplied bya third party and has been treated as confidential by the third party, and if the CPIO intends to disclose any such information 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 interest of such third party. In the matter at hand the information sought relates to the Director General of Prosecution who has objected to the disclosure. The courts interpreting the RTI Act have consistently emphasized the nondisclosure of the information relating to third party, particularly in the event when the third party has objected to such disclosure. The issue has been discussed in detail in the decision dated 03.10.2012 passed by the Apex Court in the matter of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commr. and Ors. The same ratio has been followed in the case of R.K. Jain vs. UOI decided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its decision dated16.04.2013.The only question left to be decided in such an event is whether any larger public interest shall be served by the disclosure of the information. It is amply evident that no such case of larger public interest has been established by the appellant. Hence, the Commission finds no reason or justification in directing the disclosure of the information. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Mr. V. I. Haris Raj Sadan v. BSNL in File No. CIC/BS/A/2013/000036/4632