Passport Details – Can it be revealed?22 Nov, 2011
Passport Details – Can it be revealed?
The applicant sought the passport file no. and the application details along with the details of two persons. The PIO replied that no such details of a person can be disclosed unless and until it is for a public interest. The First Appellate Authority upheld the decision stating the Passport details are exempt under section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act and cannot be disclosed as it may cause invasion of the privacy of the third party. The FAA also stated that if the details are required for the Court proceedings and if the Court directs for the information, the Ministry will furnish the details before the Court.
View of the CIC
The CIC held that the phrase 'disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest' means that the information must have been given in the course of a Public activity. Various Public authorities in performing their functions routinely ask for 'personal' information from Citizens, and this is clearly a public activity. When a person applies for a job, or gives information about himself to a Public authority as an employee, or asks for a permission, license or authorisation, all these are public activities. Also when a Citizen provides information in discharge of a statutory obligation this too is a public activity. Therefore, the CIC observed that the information sought by the appellant is not exempt under section 8(1) (j) and directed to provide the information to the appellant. The CIC further directed to provide the information free of cost as per Section 7(6) of RTI Act.
The different benches of the CIC are taking a contrary decision on this issue which highlights the need for a personal privacy law.
Citation: Shri E.Q. Siddiqui v. Ministry of External Affairs in File No: CIC/SG/A/2011/002334