The details of the properties of appellants estranged husband as per records of the bank were denied u/s 8(1)(d) - Appellant claimed she needed the information to get a share in the same for herself & her child - CIC: no larger public interest involved
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 30.9.2013 filed by the Appellant, seeking information regarding the details of the properties of her estranged husband as per records of the bank. The CPIO responded on 8.10.2013 and denied the information under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act on the ground that it pertained to a third party. Not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO, the Appellant filed an appeal to the First Appellate Authority on 14.10.2013. In his order dated 29.10.2013, the FAA directed the CPIO to follow the procedure laid down under Section 11 of the RTI Act. The Appellant filed second appeal dated 29.11.2013 to the CIC, which was received by the Commission on 3.12.2013.
2. We heard the submissions of the Appellant and the Respondents. The Appellant submitted that she has been deserted by her husband, Shri Sushil Kumar Lal, who is an officer of the Respondents, and is living with her parents since April 2000 along with her daughter. She further submitted that she needs the details of the properties of her estranged husband to get a share in the same for herself and her child. In response to our query, the Appellant submitted that she had also filed a court case for maintenance and it has already been decided. On being asked whether she had raised the issue of the properties of her estranged husband in the court, she replied in the negative. In favour of her request for information, the Appellant has quoted the Commission’s decision No. CIC/MA/A/2009/000102 dated 18.3.2009, in which the Commission had ordered disclosure of details of the salary of the husband of the Appellant in that case and information concerning the nominees indicated by him in his service records etc. She has also quoted another decision of the Commission (CIC/SG/A/2009/001990/5042 dated 6.11.2009), in which the Commission had made the following observation: “Besides the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that even people who aspire to be public servants by getting elected have to declare their property details. If people who aspire to be public servants must declare their property details it is only logical that the details of assets of those who are public servants must be considered to be disclosable. Hence the exemption under Section 8 (1) (j) cannot be applied in the instant case.”
3. The Respondents reiterated their decision to deny the information sought by the Appellant. They further submitted that in keeping with the order of the FAA, the procedure laid down in Section 11 was followed and the estranged husband of the Appellant asked the Respondents not to disclose any information to her.
4. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties before us. In the above context, we note that in its judgment dated 3.10.2012 in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commissioner and Ors. [Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012 (Arising out of CC 14781/2012)], the Supreme Court considered, inter alia, the issue of disclosing information concerning the movable and immovable properties of a person to a third party. In the above judgment, the Supreme Court made the following observations:
“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.” “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.”
5. The ground given by the Appellant for disclosure of the information sought by her is that she has been deserted by her husband and needs the information to get her share in the properties of her estranged husband, with whom, as stated above, she has also had litigation for maintenance. In view of the observations of the Supreme Court, noted in the preceding paragraph, it is clear that the information sought by the Appellant is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. The issue for consideration is whether the above can be construed as a ground for larger public interest, warranting disclosure of the information sought by the Appellant. In this context, we note the following observation made by the High Court of Delhi in its judgment dated 1.7.2009 in Vijay Prakash vs. UOI and Ors.[WP (C) 803/2009]:
“As discussed earlier, the "public interest" argument of the Petitioner is premised on the plea that his wife is a public servant; he is in litigation with her, and requires information, in the course of a private dispute to establish the truth of his allegations. The CIC has held that there is no public interest element in the disclosure of such personal information, in the possession of the information provider, i.e. the Indian Air Force. This court concurs with the view, on an application of the principles discussed. The petitioner has, not been able to justify how such disclosure would be in "public interest" : the litigation is, pure and simple, a private one. The basic protection afforded by virtue of the exemption (from disclosure) enacted 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. cannot be lifted or disturbed.” In view of the above, the plea of the Appellant cannot be regarded as a ground for larger public interest, warranting disclosure of the information sought by her.
6. In view of the foregoing, we would not interfere with the decision of the Respondents to deny the information in this case.
7. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
8. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Ms. Asha Bairwa v. Bank of Baroda in File No. CIC/MP/A/2014/000022/SH