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UNDER SECTION 11 OF THE RTI ACT, THE PIO IS REQUIRED TO GET BACK TO THE PERSON WHO’S CONFIDENTIAL RECORDS I-T RETURNS OR PASSPORT ARE BEING SOUGHT

 
 
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UNDER SECTION 11 OF THE RTI ACT, THE PIO IS REQUIRED TO GET BACK TO THE PERSON WHO’S CONFIDENTIAL RECORDS I-T RETURNS OR PASSPORT ARE BEING SOUGHT
by System Administrator - Sunday, 3 June 2018, 5:47 PM
 

Reportedly The High Court of Delhi held - "that information which involves the rights of privacy of a third party in terms of Section 8(1)(j) RTI Act cannot be ordered to be disclosed without notice to such third party. The authority cannot simply come to conclusion, that too, on a concession or on the agreement of parties before it, that public interest overrides the privacy rights of such third party without notice to and hearing such third party”. Section 11(1) of the Online RTI Act provides as follows: "11. Third party information- (1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information: Provided that except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.” Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat in the Special Civil Application nos. 16073 & 17067 of 2007 decided on 16/8/2007 (2008(2) RTI 461) Paragraph 16 & 17: "......looking to the provision of Section 11(1) of the Act, 2005, the words, the information 'relating to or is supplied by the third party' are such that it is for the third party to point out to the Public Information Officer sought for, to be disclosed supplied is treated as confidential but, third party can make a submission that now it is treating the said information as confidential. More so, when information is 'relating to third party' it may not be even know to that third party when and what information relating to third party, was collected by public body.................... What is confidential to the third party is known to the third party alone. There may not be a rubber stamp upon the information that this is confidential information. It is right vested in the third party to treat any information 'relating to or supplied by the third party' as confidential.” .

The said judgment also says, "What satisfaction must be arrived at, prior to disclosure of information about satisfaction must be arrived at, prior to the Act especially Section 8(d), 8(j) and proviso to Section 11(1) and looking to the process of disclosing information to the appellant 'relating to or supplied by the third party and treated as confidential by the third party', the Act imposes a duty upon Public Information Officer to arrive at a conclusion that public interest in disclosure outweighs, harm or injury, to the protected interest of such third party, or larger public interest warrants, disclosure of such information, in considering whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interest of such third party. In this regard, it may be worthwhile to note the observations of Muralidhar, J. of the High Court of Delhi in Arvind Kejriwal v. CPIO W. P. (C) 6614/2008 and C. M. Appl. No. 12685/2008, W. P. (C) 8999/2008 and C. M. Appl. No. 7517/2008, W. P. (C) 8407/2009 and C. M. Appl. 5286/2009 decided on 30/07/2010, in Paragraph 21, which are as follows: "...It requires to be noticed that under the RTI Act information that is totally exempt from disclosure has been listed out in Section 8. The concept of privacy is incorporated in Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. This provision would be a defense available to a person about whom information is being sought. Such defense could be taken by a third party in a proceeding under Section 11(1) when upon being issued notice such third party might want to resist disclosure on the grounds of privacy. This is a valuable right of a third party that encapsulates the principle of natural justice inasmuch as the statute mandates that there cannot be a disclosure of information pertaining to or which 'relates' to such third party without affording such third party an opportunity of being heard on whether such disclosure should be ordered. This is a procedural safeguard that has been inserted in the RTI Act to balance the rights of privacy and the public interest involved in disclosure of such information. Whether one should trump the other is ultimately for the information officer to decide in the facts of a given case.”Procedure of disclosing third party information:Section 11(1) of the RTI Act is triggered once the PIO intends to disclose to an applicant any information which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party. Once Section 11(1) of the RTI Act is applicable, the PIO shall follow the procedure of serving a notice to the third party for seeking objections whether such information shall be disclosed or not. On receipt of the submissions of the third party, the PIO shall keep the submissions in view and then decide whether the information sought shall be disclosed or not. If the PIO does not find any merit in the submissions of the third party, he shall disclose the information sought to the applicant. On the other hand, where the PIO decides that the information sought shall not be disclosed then the basis for denial of information must be in accordance with Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act only. However (except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law) even where the PIO is of the view that there is possible harm or injury to the interests of the third party, but public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any such harm or injury, he may disclose the information. Section 11 does not give the third party a right of veto in giving information.