Can Form 16 of public servants be disclosed under RTI?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Madras High Court seeking copies of the Form 16 issued to the Income Tax (IT) Department in respect of the Chief Justice and other Judges of the Madras High Court. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information 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 stating that it is personal information.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) held that the contents of the Form 16 issued to the IT Department in respect of public servants are in the nature of personal information. The form includes the details of the salary, other allowances paid by the public authority as well as the details of the various savings made by the public servant and the tax deducted at source. The Commission observed that though the salary paid to a public servant is not personal information and is to be disclosed as part of section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; but there is no such compulsion for disclosure of the other details included in the Form 16. The Commission also referred to a Supreme Court decision wherein it was held that the income tax returns of a citizen cannot be disclosed under RTI as it was in the nature of personal information unless it would serve a larger public interest. The Commission rejected the appeal stating that the appellant has not brought out any evidence to show that the disclosure of this information would serve any larger public interest.
Citation: Mr. V Gopalakrishnan v. Madras High Court in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/901420
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1149
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