Delhi HC - Citizen is entitled to know about the donations given by the President
A bench of the Delhi High Court has ruled that under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, every citizen is entitled to know about the donations given by the President of India. Justice Vipin Sanghi held that "Every citizen is entitled to know as to how the money, which is collected by the State from him by exaction has been utilised. Merely because the person making the donations happens to be the President of India, is no ground to withhold the said information."
Justice Vipin Sanghi gave the decision while hearing the petition filed against the order of the CIC dated 4th May, 2012. The Court had earlier stayed the CIC order that directed to provide the details of the donations made by the President to the appellant and upload the information on the official website of the President's secretariat. Now, the High Court has directed the President's secretariat to make the following information public:
- the names of recipients of the donation,
- their address, and
- the sum of donation given by the First Citizen.
The High Court observed that “The honourable President of India is not immune from the application of the Act (RTI). What is important is, that it is a public fund which is being donated by the President, and not his /her private fund placed at his /her disposal for being donated amongst the needy and deserving persons."
The High Court discussed the issue of privacy and observed that:
- The donations made by the President of India cannot said to relate to personal information of the President. It cannot be said that the disclosure of the information would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the President of India.
- A person who approaches the President, seeking a donation, can have no qualms in the disclosure of his/her name, address, the amount received by him/her as donation or even the circumstance which compelled him or her to approach the First Citizen of the country to seek a donation. The High Court held that the right of privacy of third parties would not be breached by disclosure of donations received for medical treatment.
- The disclosure of the information would be in the public interest as such acts of generosity and magnanimity done by the President should be placed in the public domain as they would enhance the stature of the office of the President of India.