Request for joint inspection of alleged illegal properties turned down by CIC
An application was filed with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get copies of the police complaints received by the offices of the MCD regarding illegal constructions and encroachment. The applicant, Mr. A D Sharma, had also requested for a joint inspection of the said properties along side the MCD engineers to ascertain the actions taken on the complaints.
The three wings of MCD viz. East Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and North Delhi Municipal Corporation had outrightly rejected the plea for joint inspection stating that inspection of private properties is a power delegated statutorily to MCD engineers with a prescribed procedure under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.
As the matter was brought before the Central Information Commission (CIC), it contended that joint inspection has no relationship with public interest particularly when a legal mechanism is already in place for inspection as provided under DMC Act. The commission's bench held in its order that allowing joint inspection would tantamount to invasion of privacy of the property owners and hence would attract 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 and would also violate the Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The CIC has held that "...Such 'inspection' does not have any relationship to any Public Activity or interest especially in the presence of alternate mechanism to carry out such inspection by the MCD officials as per the Provisions of the DMC Act”.