Can the CIC invent new grounds for denial of information?
The appellant had sought copies of the bye-laws of all unions functioning in the Cordite factory. The Public Information Officer (PIO) refused to disclose this information under section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; and 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. The PIO further submitted that he had consulted the majority of the unions 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: of the RTI Act and the latter did not consent to the disclosure of the requested information. He also emphasizes that disclosure of this information would not be conducive to the industrial peace and tranquility in the factory.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) did not agree on the non-disclosure of the information to an individual observing that copies of the byelaws are required to be provided by a Union for seeking registration and should be placed in public domain. The Commission, however, left the disclosure of the information to the discretion of the PIO stating that, the Commission would not like to create a situation whereby industrial peace and tranquility is disturbed.
It is a strange case where the Commission has accepted disturbance of industrial peace and tranquility as a reason for denial of information. Furthermore, instead of deciding the case, the Commission has left it to the PIO to make a decision regarding disclosure.
Citation: Mr. N. Senthilkumar v. Cordite Factory in File No. CIC/LS/A/2011/003500
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/321
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission