CIC: The passport details, copies of birth certificate & records of educational qualification are personal information, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of individuals unless there was a public interest in disclosure
O R D E R
The Appellant in his RTI application sought information on 12 points regarding certified copy of the complete file of compliance pertaining to complaint filed against Shri Ramesh Kerkar, Appraising Officer of Customs, Mormugao, certified copy of factual report on findings based on recommendation letters dated 28.10.2014 for inquiry by Shri S.A. Kazi, Dy. Commissioner, CCO Pune Zone against Shri Ramesh Kerkar, Certified copies of IPR filed by Shri Ramesh Kerker, Mrs. Jyoti Umraye, Mrs. Janet De’ Silva and Mr. Mukund Shinde as on 01.01.2004 and issues related thereto.
The CPIO and Ch. Commissioner of Customs Office, Central Excise and Customs, Pune Zone, vide its letter dated 25.04.2016 transferred the RTI application to the CPIO, O/o the Commissioner of Customs, Goa under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, 2005. The CPIO, Customs House, Marmagao, vide its letter dated 03.06.2016 requested the Appellant to pay Rs. 900/- for 400 pages of information. Dissatisfied on receiving the response after the mandatory time frame, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 24.06.2016 denied disclosure of information as per Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 stating that a mere suspicion could not constitute the basis of public interest. It was further stated that consent of the four officers about whom the Appellant had sought details was sought who had objected to the same under Section-11 of the RTI Act, 2005.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present:
Appellant: Mr. Bandhagit Nadaf (M: 9923757975)
Respondent: Ms. Parinati Sunkar, Dy. Commissioner (Customs), Goa (M: 7875718579) through VC;
The Appellant reiterated the contents of his RTI application and stated that contradictory and unsatisfactory response were provided to him. It was submitted that contrary to the provisions of RTI Act, 2005, the RTI application was responded to vide letter dated 03.06.2016 beyond the mandatory period of 30 days from the date of transferring the RTI application. In its reply, the Respondent submitted that the RTI application was initially transferred by the CPIO and Ch. Commissioner of Customs Office, Central Excise and Customs, Pune Zone, vide its letter dated 25.04.2016 to the CPIO, O/o the Commissioner of Customs, Goa. The CPIO, Customs House, Goa had initially vide its letter dated 03.06.2016 offered around 400 pages of information on payment of Rs. 900/- as photocopying charges. However, the FAA, vide its order dated 24.06.2016 stated that information on point no. 01, 02 and 03 was not available with them. As regards point no. 04, it was stated that it pertains to Lokpal Act, the deadline for submitting IPR had been extended to 31.07.2016 as such the information sought could not be provided. As regards point no. 08 and 09, it was submitted that no information was available with them. Furthermore, disclosure of information on point no. 05, 06, 07, 09, 10 and 12 was denied on the ground that information sought was exempted from disclosure as per Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 on the ground that mere suspicion could not constitute the basis for public interest. It was also submitted that consent of the Third Parties under Section 11 of the RTI Act, 2005 was sought who had objected to the disclosure of information. Moreover, in case the Appellant felt that any wrongdoing was committed by the officers, he could have approached the forums assigned with addressing such allegations. In support of its contention, the Respondent relied on the decision of the Commission in A.P. Singh v. Punjab National bank Appeal No. 12/IC (A) 2006, dated 14.03.2016 and decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & ors. SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 dated 03/10/2012.
The Appellant submitted that contradictory stand was taken by the Respondent at the stage of CPIO’s reply and FAA’s order and in case information was not available with them on any of the points, they could have transferred the RTI application to the concerned authority as per Section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, 2005. In addition it was argued that he had no desired any personal information of third party and had rather asked for information regarding official duties of public servants.
The Commission observed that suitable reply was provided by the FAA on the queries raised by the Appellant. The Appellant could not establish the larger public interest warranting disclosure of information in the matter.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & ors. SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 dated 03/10/2012 wherein it was held as under:
“13......The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression "personal information", the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.”
Moreover, the Commission drew reference from the decision of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi dated 13/07/2012 in (W.P. (C) No. 1243 of 2011- UPSC vs. R.K. Jain) wherein while discussing on the issue of disclosure of information in larger public interest the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held as under:
“The second half of the first part of clause (j) of Section 8(1) shows that when personal information in respect of a person is sought, the authority concerned shall weigh the competing claims i.e., the claim for the protection of personal information of the concerned person on the one hand, and the claim of public interest on the other, and if “public interest” justifies disclosure, i.e., the public interest outweighs the need for protection of personal information, the concerned authority shall disclose the information.”
Furthermore, in Union of India v. R. Jayachandran WP (C) 3406/2012 dated 19.02.2014 the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held that passport details, copies of birth certificate and copies of records of educational qualification are personal information, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of individuals unless there was an overbearing public interest in favour of disclosure.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, no further intervention of the Commission is warranted in the matter.
The Appeal stands disposed accordingly.
Citation: Mr. Bandhagit Nadaf v. Central Excise & Customs in Appeal No.:-CIC/SB/A/2016/001225-BJ; Date of Decision : 23.05.2017