Service book copy of appellant’s deceased husband was denied u/s 8(1)(e) - PIO: The brother and mother of the deceased are the nominees as per records - CIC: Information exempt u/s 8(1)(j); PIO cautioned to invoke the correct exemption clause in future
The Appellant has sought the following information with reference to letter no. 3009/3/1 EST RTI dated 04 October 2019:
- Provide the copy of service book and other related documents of her husband late Sh. Shayam Prakash.
Grounds for Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information under section 8(1) (e) of the RTI Act.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The appellant submitted that she should be given the service book copy of her deceased husband. The CPIO’s representative submitted that the appellant’s name is not mentioned in the service book as nominee rather the deceased third party’s brother and mother are the nominees. Therefore, no such document can be given.
Based on a perusal of the record, it was noted that the CPIO vide letter dated 11.01.2021 replied to the appellant and stated that the information sought is related to the third party and exempted u/s 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act. The appellant was not satisfied with the reply and filed a first appeal. The FAA vide order dated 18.03.2021 disposed of the appeal and informed that appellant that the deceased third party had not given the name of the appellant as a nominee for gratuity payment. Moreover, the CAT Allahabad Bench had already dismissed the appellant’s petition in this regard on 17.04.2018. He also mentioned that previously also the appellant was informed vide letter dated 22.08.2019 of the same.
A copy of the letter dated 07.03.2018 was enclosed in the file where it can be seen that on 07.03.2018 in respect of a RTI application of another applicant, the copy of the service book of the deceased husband of that applicant was given by the same office.
The Commission observed that the CPIO had invoked an incorrect exemption clause, Sec 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; , which is not applicable. However, the appellant was informed by the FAA that she is not entitled to gratuity as per the service book. Therefore, it is relevant to mention here that the copy of the service book cannot be given to the appellant as she failed to submit any proof of being the legal heir of her late husband. Moreover, the information is personal to the third party and hence, exempted 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.
The Commission cautions the CPIO to invoke the correct exemption clause in future and justify the applicability while denying the information in future RTI replies. As far as the present case is concerned, no relief can be given due to lack of larger public interest.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: Smt. Rani v. CPIO, Station Headquarters, Babina Cantt. in File no.: - CIC/IARMY/A/2021/119820, Date of Decision: 01/09/2022