Disclosure of personal information under RTI is illegal - High Court
Justice Vasanti Naik of the Bombay High Court has ruled in a case that disclosing information related to an individual’s service record, income tax returns and assets is illegal unless it is in larger public interest. The order reads “On hearing the petitioner and on perusal of the Act, it appears that the Chief Information Commissioner was not justified in directing Information Officer to supply personal information in respect of service record, income tax returns and assets of the petitioner unless he was satisfied that such disclosure was justified in larger public interest.”
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the asset details of the petitioner which was rejected by the public information officer citing that the information was 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 Act. During the hearing of the appeal in this regard, the first appellate authority upheld the decision of the PIO and declined to provide the demanded information. Following this, the applicant approached the state information commission which reversed the earlier decision and ordered the PIO to furnish the demanded information about the petitioner.
However, the petitioner challenged the SIC’s order in the Bombay High Court which held in its order that the hearing that the information commissioner was not justified in directing the PIO to furnish the asset details of the petitioner unless he was satisfied that the disclosure was important in larger public interest.