CIC: Provide the (horizontal) sanction plan of any third party by omitting the internal room arrangements in the plan; the external walls with openings & projections should be shown along with the Area Statement for all the floors approved
Appellant sought information on 17 points relating to building plans and other related issues.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing: Both the parties are present.
Appellant sought the above information by filing an RTI application dated 08.10.2012. PIO/EE(B) KBZ, North DMC, transferred the RTI application to PIO, Engineering Department HQ, North DMC, PIO/TP Department, North DMC and PIO, Building Department (HQ), North DMC to provide information on point nos. 1-4, 7 and 9-12. PIO EE(B)HQ, vide his reply dated 12.12.2012, provided a point wise response and transferred the RTI application to PIO/TP, North DMC and PIO/EE(B) KB Zone, North DMC for providing information. PIO/EE(B)KBZ vide his reply dated 17.12.2012 provided a point wise response. PIO/TP vide letter dated 07.01.2013, informed the appellant that no information was available in Town Planning department. FAA/SE(KBZ), vide order dated 29.04.2013, directed PIO/EE(B)/KBZ to provide information on point nos. 13, 15 and 17 to the appellant within 15 days of receipt of the order an disposed of the first appeal. PIO/EE(B)/KBZ complied with the FAA’s order vide reply dated 16.05.2013.
Appellant submitted that he had asked for copy of the sanctioned building plan, which has been denied to him by stating that the sanctioned building plan is the intellectual property of the architect and personal documents of the owner which cannot be supplied to any person other than the architect /owner. He further submitted that until and unless a document is registered with the competent authority under relevant intellectual property laws, any professional cannot claim its exemption from disclosure under the RTI Act on the ground that it is his intellectual property. However, he is seeking disclosure from the legal keeper of the record i.e. the MCD from their own records. He further submitted that the sanctioned building plans are the public record of private documents and is covered as such u/s 74(2) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and the same is also covered u/s 2(i) “record” includes. (a) any document, manuscript and file; (b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document; (c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and (d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device; of the RTI Act. Appellant further submitted that in his neighbourhood, there is a residential building being commercially used for the purpose of a guest house. In the absence of the sanctioned building plan, it is impossible to know if there is any encroachment or unauthorized construction or there is illegal commercial use of the building premises.
Respondent submitted that there is no problem to divulge the information as to whether the premises are sanctioned for residential or commercial purposes. He further submitted that in residential areas also, there is a provision of running commercial activities in the form of guest houses etc. Insofar as the question of sanctioned building plan is concerned, it is the personal information and if disclosed, it would impinge the privacy of an individual citizen.
The Commission has perused the documents on file and considered the submissions made by the parties. The main issue before the Commission, therefore, is whether the disclosure of the sanctioned building plans are exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act, which provides:
8. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, -- (j) 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: …..
The Commission is of the view that disclosing the internal room arrangement of a citizen's house to a third party may be an intrusion of the citizen's privacy. The sanctioned plan(s) of the property sought by the appellants are personal information of a Third Party. Further, such sanctioned plan(s) are required to be provided to the public authority in accordance with law and therefore, it comes within the ambit of information provided to the public authority in the course of a public activity. However, disclosing the complete internal arrangement of the third party's house by the public authority to the information seekers may be an unwarranted invasion of the third party's privacy. Therefore, the Commission finds some merit in the contentions of the respondents and holds that disclosure of the building sanctioned plan(s) should be exempt 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. Under Section 10 of the RTI Act, it is possible to sever certain portions of the information before disclosing it to a RTI Applicant to ensure that information that is exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act is not disclosed. Therefore, Section 10 of the RTI Act applies to the sanctioned building plans and the information after using the severability clause can be provided.
The Commission, in a number of decisions, has held that when an appellant seeks the sanctioned building plan of any third party, public authority should provide the (horizontal) sanction plan(s) of the properties of the third party by omitting the internal room arrangements in the plan(s). The external walls with openings and projections should be shown along with the Area Statement for all the floors which has been approved/regularised. The Commission directs the appellant to provide to the public authority i.e. EE(B), KBZ, details of the property for which he is desirous to obtain information within one week of receipt of this order. Thereafter, the PIO/EE(B), Karol Bagh Zone, is directed to provide the (horizontal) plans submitted to the department to the appellant by omitting the internal room arrangements in the Plan. The external walls with openings and projections along with the area statement for all the floors and the purpose of the building whether residential or commercial, approved/regularised by the competent authority, be provided. The respondent shall also inform the appellant as to whether the use of the building is changed to commercial or given as guest house under an authorized scheme. The above information be provided to the appellant within two weeks of receipt of details furnished by the appellant, under intimation to the Commission. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Shri Pawan Kumar v. North Delhi Municipal Corporation in F.No.CIC/SA/A/2014/000121