Thursday, August 26, 2010

Property statements are not 'confidential' info: CIC

Property statements are not 'confidential' info: CIC

Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 26, 2010, 15:12 IST

Property statements filed by civil servants are not confidential information and can be disclosed after taking the views of concerned officials as per the provisions of the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held.

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah rejected the plea of Department of Personnel and Training that these records were held "in confidence" by the government and are hence exempted from disclosure.

"It is clear that the property statements are statements regarding private individuals serving in government and (they) become part of Government records," he said.

Habibullah said by no means these records can be treated as information held "in confidence" by the government.

He said these records come in the category of "personal information" the disclosure of which could amount to invasion of privacy and would attract section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

There are 10 exemption clauses provided under the section 8(1) of the RTI Act which exempt disclosure of different categories of information. Section 8(1)(j) exempts personal information from disclosure unless larger public interest is demonstrated by the RTI applicant.

The case relates to an RTI application filed by Shyam Lal Yadav where he sought details of property statements filed by bureaucrats and their relatives.

Habibullah said in cases where information of personal nature is sought, section 11 (1) of the Right to Information Act also applies. As per the provision, it is appropriate to make such disclosure after reference to officials about whom information has been sought.

"Issue notice to third parties within five working days of receipt of this decision notice and proceed to disclose the information sought by appellant Shyam Lal Yadav, if no viable objection based on exemption under section 8(1) is received within 10 days of the date of issue of such notice," he said.

Courtesy_

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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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