Right to Information- Information Available with Public Authority to be provided to Citizen- Delhi HC

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October 17, 2018

Right to Information- The High Court of Delhi in this recent case has primarily ruled that Section 11 of the RTI Act cannot be read as a provision proscribing disclosure of information and that all information as available with the public authority is required to be provided to the citizen unless it is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 of the RTI Act.

Case name: Public Information Officer v. V. Chaudhary

In the case, the petitioner (PIO) challenged order passed by the Central Information Commission (hereafter ‘CIC’), whereby the CIC had directed the petitioner to enable inspection of the relevant files required by the respondent and to provide the photocopies of the relevant documents pertaining to the information, as requested in the respondent’s RTI application.

The respondent in the case had sought information pertaining to unauthorized construction, hence the issue that fell for consideration was whether the respondent is entitled to inspect the copy of the forms sent by the police authorities to the concerned Municipal Corporation or MCD?

Delhi High Court

  • The Court in the case has ruled that in terms of the RTI Act, all information as available with the public authority is required to be provided to the citizen unless it is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 of the RTI Act or otherwise pertains to the organizations that are excluded from the purview of the RTI Act. Thus, the question whether authentic information is available with another public authority is not a ground to deny the information as sought from a public authority.
  • The Petitioner in the case had denied information to the Respondent on the ground that the information sought by the respondent is prohibited under Section 11 of the RTI Act. The Court from the facts and circumstances noted that the petitioner did have the information as sought by the respondent. However, the same was denied to the respondent by referring Section 11 of the RTI Act. A plain reading of Section 11 of the RTI Act indicates that the same does not proscribe furnishing of information.
  • Thus, Section 11 of the RTI Act cannot be read as a provision proscribing disclosure of information; it is a provision to enable disclosure of third party information subject to certain safeguards. In this view, the decision of the CPIO denying the information by referring Section 11 of the RTI Act is wholly unsustainable.

Finally, the Delhi High Court in the case ruled that the information as to unauthorized construction observed by the police authorities cannot be construed as one, which is to be kept confidential in terms of Section 11 of the RTI Act.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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