Information relating to entitlement of retirement benefits to the former Chairman of LIC despite a sexual harassment case pending against him in the Odisha High Court - CIC: It is personal information of third party & is exempt under Section 8(1) (j)
1. The appellant, Smt. Satyabhama Mohapatra, submitted RTI application dated 12.06.2013 addressed to the CPIO, Department of Financial Services, New Delhi seeking information relating to entitlement of retirement benefits to Mr. D.K. Mehrotra, former Chairman, LIC of India, financial benefits given to him by the department or recommended to be given from the LIC of India on his retirement inspite of the sexual harassment case pending against him in the Hon’ble High Court of Odisha and the financial benefits not released to him on his retirement from the department or from the LIC of India in relation to the sexual harassment case pending against him in the High Court.
2. The CPIO, Department of Financial Services vide letter dated 21.06.2013 transferred the RTI application to the CPIO, LIC of India, Central Office, Mumbai. The CPIO, LIC of India, Mumbai vide letter dated 20.07.2013 provided information on point 1 relating to entitlement of retirement benefits to the Chairman, LIC of India and on points 2 and 3 informed the appellant that RTI Act does not provide for CPIO to respond to allegations or suggestions of applicants and CPIO is expected to only provide information as available on its records. The conditional query made by the RTI applicant had rendered it non maintainable under the RTI Act. Dissatisfied with the reply of the CPIO, the appellant preferred an appeal on 09.12.2013 before the FAA. The FAA vide order dated 09.01.2014 concurred with the reply of the CPIO by the quoting the Commission’s decision in case No. CIC/AT/C/2007/00337 dated 29.02.2008 in which the Commission held “It is very clear that this is not a request for information, but direction to the respondents to explain their conduct on the basis of the assumption made by the complainant. The request for the information does not meet the yardstick set out under section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. It is, therefore, held that the respondents are not obliged to respond to the same.”
3. Thereafter the appellant filed second appeal before the Commission.
4. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant’s husband stated that the appellant was sexually harassed at the work place by Shri D.K. Mehrotra, former Chairman, LIC of India. The appellant had moved the High Court of Orissa against Shri Mehrotra who had retired from the post. The matter is still subjudice before the Hon’ble High Court. The respondents stated that the information as sought for at point 2 and 3 was conditional query hence the appellant’s request for information could not be acceded to as it did not meet the yardstick set out u/s 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act. Even in the event of unconditional query, the information on details of terminal benefits in respect of Shri D.K. Mehrotra, former Chairman, LIC of India, is personal information relating to third party and is exempt from disclosure as provided u/s 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. No larger public interest was involved in the matter. Besides, making such information public may result in endangering the safety and security of the person concerned.
5. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the Commission holds that the information as sought for by the appellant at point 2 and 3 relating terminal benefits to former Chairman of LIC of India Shri Mehrotra, which is personal information of third party, and is exempt under the provisions of Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act and moreover, the appellant is a litigant in the writ petition filed against Shri Mehrotra before the Hon’ble High Court of Orissa. The Commission finds no reason to intervene in the matter. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Smt. Satyabhama Mohapatra v. LIC of India in Appeal: No. CIC/MP/A/2014/000463