Copies of the certificates of educational qualification of the bank officers were denied u/s 8(1)(j) - Appellant: The said bank officer is not a graduate - CIC: such personal information is held in confidence & in fiduciary capacity; appeal dismissed
1. These files contain appeals in respect of the RTI applications dated 15.7.2013, 1.11.2013, 6.6.2014, 9.5.2014 and 4.12.2013, filed by the Appellant, seeking information on various issues. Not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, he has approached the CIC in second appeal in all the cases.
2. The Appellant has emailed to us his written submissions dated 7.5.2015 regarding the matters that came up during the hearing. He has prayed for direction to the Respondents to provide all the information sought by him.
3. With regard to the RTI application dated 15.7.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001245), we note that a complaint concerning the same RTI application was disposed of vide our order No. CIC/VS/C/2013/000463/SH dated 9.4.2014. In view of the foregoing, we do not consider it necessary to pass a separate order on the appeal before us on File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001245.
4. The Appellant stated that in his RTI application dated 1.11.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/0000837), he had sought some information in respect of a Manager of the bank who, he stated, is his wife. However, the information was denied to him under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. The Respondents reiterated the reply given by the CPIO vide his letter dated 29.11.2013.
5. In the RTI application dated 6.6.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002761), the Appellant sought information on a number of points regarding his RTI application dated 15.7.2013 which, according to the Respondents, was not received by them. He stated that the information sought by him has not been provided. The Respondents drew our attention to the above mentioned order dated 9.4.2014, in which we disposed of a complaint regarding nonprovision of information in response to the same RTI application. In view of the foregoing, intervention by the Commission is not considered necessary in this case.
6. In the RTI application dated 9.5.2014 (Files No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002763 and CIC/SH/A/2014/002760), the Appellant sought information regarding eight officers of the bank, including the Manager who, according to him, is his wife. The CPIO provided some information, while denying the remaining information under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act.
7. In the RTI application dated 4.12.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001797), the Appellant sought information regarding eight officers of the bank. In his letter dated 28.1.2014, the CPIO provided some information, while denying the remaining information under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act.
8. The Respondents stated that the Appellant has a marital dispute with his wife, who is an officer of the bank. He has been filing a number of RTI applications, repeatedly seeking information on the same issues. The Appellant stated that he has been obliged to file RTI applications because the information sought by him has not been provided. He mentioned, in particular, that he wants the details of the salary of his wife since 2001. The Respondents stated that they do not have such old information. The Appellant also mentioned, in particular, that the copies of educational certificates of the officers of the bank, sought by him, have not been provided. He further submitted that in a response of the CPIO, the qualification of his wife has been mentioned as B.Sc, while she did not study science beyond class 10. He was informed that the Commission was not competent to look into such complaints.
9. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties before us. It is noted that in his RTI applications, the Appellant has sought information regarding the certificates of educational qualification, monthly salary along with bank account details in some cases, details of loans taken, marital status, PAN number and income tax details, copies of form 16, details of movable and immovable assets and details of gifts, incentives and allowances paid by the bank, in respect of the officers mentioned in the RTI applications. The Respondents have provided some information. However, it is seen that most of the information is in the nature of personal information of the officers concerned and is, therefore, covered by 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. Thus, the Appellant has sought copies of the certificates of educational qualification of the officers concerned. In this context, we note that in its judgment dated 6.8.2013 in UPSC vs. Gourhari Kamila [Civil Appeal No. 6362 of 2013] the Supreme Court had noted the following observations made by the Apex Court in the Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors.:
“…… if on the request of the employer or official superior or the head of a department, an employee furnishes his personal details and information, to be retained in confidence, the employer, the official superior or departmental head is expected to hold such personal information in confidence as a fiduciary, to be made use of or disclosed only if the employee's conduct or acts are found to be prejudicial to the employer.”
In view of the foregoing, copies of educational qualification certificates of the officers concerned cannot be provided to the Appellant. In the context of the queries raised by the Appellant, we also note the following observations made by the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 3.10.2012 in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & Ors.:
“12. The petitioner herein sought for copies of all memos, show cause notices and censure/punishment awarded to the third respondent from his employer and also details viz. movable and immovable properties and also the details of his investments, lending and borrowing from Banks and other financial institutions. Further, he has also sought for the details of gifts stated to have accepted by the third respondent, his family members and friends and relatives at the marriage of his son. The information mostly sought for finds a place in the income tax returns of the third respondent. The question that has come up for consideration is whether the abovementioned information sought for qualifies to be “personal information” as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.”
“13. We are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. 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 or 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.”
“14. The details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are" personal information" which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”
In view of the foregoing, a large part of the information has been correctly denied by the Respondents. In this context, we also note that the Appellant has not established any larger pubic interest for disclosure to him of the information sought by him. He appears to have a marital dispute with his wife, who is an officer of the bank. However, such dispute cannot become the ground of larger public interest. The Appellant contends that since the officers, about whom information has been sought by him, are working in a public authority, all the information ought to be disclosed. However, we note that the above submission of the Appellant does not deprive the officers concerned of the protection available to them under clause (j) of subsection (1) of Section 8 of the RTI Act.
10. Since the Appellant continues to file RTI applications, repeatedly seeking the same information, we would also like to recall to him the following observations made by the Supreme Court in Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors.:
“ 37. The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under clause (b) of section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption. But in regard to other information,(that is information other than those enumerated in 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; and (c) of the Act), equal importance and emphasis are given to other public interests (like confidentiality of sensitive information, fidelity and fiduciary relationships, efficient operation of governments, etc.). Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counterproductive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the nonproductive work of collecting and furnishing information. The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquility and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties. The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of public authorities prioritising `information furnishing', at the cost of their normal and regular duties.”
11. With the observations made in paragraphs 3 and 5, the two appeals on Files No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001245 and CIC/SH/A/2014/002761 are disposed of. In view of the above observations, particularly those contained in paragraph 9, we find no substance in the appeals on Files No. CIC/SH/A/2014/000837, CIC/SH/A/2014/002763, CIC/SH/A/2014/002760 and CIC/SH/A/2014/001797. Accordingly, these four appeals are dismissed.
Citation: Shri Harshadkumar Chimanlal Gandhi v. Bank of Baroda in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/000837, File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001245 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002761
File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002763 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002760 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001797