IMPORTANT JUDGEMENT & RULINGS ON RIGHT TO INFORMATION
Important Supreme Court and High Court rulings on RTI
- Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India v. Suresh Chandra Agarwal (Case-Number CA 10044/2010)
On 13 November, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment. The Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, N.V. Ramana, D.Y. Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna produced three separate opinions. Majority opinion authored by Justice Khanna and signed by all Justices.
The majority opinion offered no general finding on whether Collegium decision-making, personal asset disclosures and the correspondences of the CJI are universally subject to RTI disclosures. However, it held that transparency can be in the interest of judicial independence. It also held that concerns about the ‘free and frank expression’ of Collegium members are alone not sufficient to bar information disclosure. In effect, the judgment allows RTI requests to be decided on a case-by-case basis, under the discretion of the CPIO or the ‘competent authority’ (Chief Justice of Supreme Court) depending on the request.
- Reserve Bank of India v. Jayantilal Mistry, (Supreme Court, 2015)
RBI can’t Deny Information under RTI claiming Fiduciary Relationship
The Supreme Court in the case held that in the case the RBI does not place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the Financial institutions because, the reports of the inspections, statements of the bank, information related to the business obtained by the RBI are not under the pretext of confidence or trust. In this case neither the RBI nor the Banks act in the interest of each other.
- Adesh Kumar v. Union of India, (W.P.(C) No.3543/2014).
Delhi High Court – RTI can’t be Denied on the Ground that Information sought is Irrelevant.
FIR had been lodged against the Petitioner during his tenure of service and subsequently, a charge sheet, against the petitioner was submitted. On receipt of the charge sheet, the Petitioner applied for information under the RTI Act pertaining to sanction of prosecution against him.
However, the requested information was rejected by the CPIO claiming that there was no obligation to provide the same by virtue of Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.
Delhi High Court in the case has held that whether the information sought by the petitioner is relevant or necessary, is not relevant or germane in the context of the Act, a citizen has a right to information.
- The Registrar, Supreme Court of India v. R S Misra (Delhi High Court, 2017)
No RTI Query Can Lie With Regard to Judicial Decisions
In the instant case, the Delhi High Court has rendered an in-depth analysis of RTI applications against any decision passed by the Supreme Court. The Court has also ruled that RTI Act does not prevail over the Supreme Court Rules (SCR).
- Jiju Lukose v. State of Kerala, (Kerala High Court, 2014)
Whether Particulars of FIR can be Disclosed under RTI Act?
In the case, a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to upload the copy of the FIR in the website of the police station and to make available copies of the FIR to the accused immediately on registration of the FIR was sought for.
- Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & Ors, (SLP (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012).
The Supreme Court had held that details in the income tax returns of a person are personal information and stand exempted from the purview of this Act unless and until it is for the benefit of the larger public interest.
- Vishwas Bhamburkar v. PIO, Housing & Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (CIC/HUDCO/A/2017/195197)
CIC: The CIC in this case held that the lack of Aadhar card was not a ground for refusal of information when suspicion as to applicant’s identity is unfounded.
- Shahzad Singh v Department of Posts (CIC/POSTS/A/2016/299355)
The CIC held that the excuse of ‘missing files’ was not valid as such an excuse is a major threat to transparency, accountability and a violation of the RTI Act. Any controversial questions will not be answered by citing this excuse.
Other important rulings on RTI by Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
|S.No.||Rulings & Judgments:||Observations made:|
|1.||Decision No. CIC/AD/C/2011/901017/SG/17642 Complaint No. CIC/AD/C/2011/901017/SG Link: http://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_AD_C_2011_901017_SG_17642_M_77981.pdf||Burden of establishing applicability of exemption lies on the PIO. Merely stating that the information sought is confidential in nature cannot be a reason and the PIO needs to establish the applicability of the exemption under RTI Act, the CIC ruled.|
|2.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001812/4832 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001812 Link: http://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-17092009-08.pdf||PIO issued show cause notice for not giving info on ration card. The CIC issued a show cause notice to erstwhile PIO for not replying within 30 days as mandated under the RTI Act and also for not following orders of FAA.|
|3.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000891/3620 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000891 Link: http://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-09062009-05.pdf||MCD asked to publish info on its website in compliance with Section 4. The CIC said the information sought by the appellant must be provided and MCD must ensure that it must available suo moto in fulfilment of its duties under Section 4 of the RTI Act.|
|4.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002724/16593 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002724 Link: http://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_A_2011_002724_16593_M_72963.pdf||Citizens can choose the best route for obtaining information. The procedure set out by NBE as well as the RTI Act coexists and therefore, it is for the citizen to determine which route she would prefer for obtaining the information, the CIC ruled.|
|5.||Decision No. CIC/SM/C/2011/000117/SG/13230 Complaint No. CIC/SM/C/2011/000117/SG Link: http://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_C_2011_000117_SG_13230_M_59799.pdf||PIO of CBI failed to justify denial of information. The denial of information by the PIO appears to be a mere blanket statement not supported by any cogent evidence or material for claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, the CIC said.|
|6.||Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/001273/17356 Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/001273 Link: http://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_C_2011_001273_17356_M_76524.pdf||A body substantially funded, controlled by govt is a public authority. PHFI despite being a public-private partnership-PPP is controlled and substantially financed by the government and thus is a public authority under the RTI Act, ruled the CIC.|
|7.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002033/15493 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002033 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_A_2011_002033_15493_M_70004.pdf||Public interest cannot be overlooked while disclosing information. Merely because disclosure of information may adversely affect public confidence in defaulting institutions, it cannot be a reason for denial of information under the RTI Act, the CIC ruled.|
|8.||Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000017/13790 Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000017 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_C_2011_000017_13790_M_63961.pdf||Complainant threatened for filing RTI application. The CIC recommended to the Police Commissioner of Patna to take cognizance and ensure that no harm comes to the complainant who was receiving threatening phone calls for filing RTI application.|
|9.||Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/900911/15246 Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/900911 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_C_2011_900911_15246_M_69045.pdf||Public authorities must disclose and update information regularly suo moto. Disclosures in accordance with Section (4) of the RTI Act are crucial to ensure transparency and accountability in public authorities, which would reduce the load of RTI Applications being filed, the CIC said.|
|10.||Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000249/SG/12387 Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000249/SG Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_A_2011_000249_SG_12387_M_56399.pdf||Mere existence of an investigation process cannot be used to deny information. If investigating agencies in the country were to diligently enforce the timelines laid down, they would not have to resort to Section 8(1)(h) to refuse information, the CIC said.|
|11.||Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2010/001398/SG/14462 Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2010/001398/SG Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_A_2010_001398_SG_14462_M_66383.pdf||PIO wanted applicant to pay for each query in a single application. There are no parameters to determine whether the information sought pertains to one-subject matter. However, rules framed by the competent authority could put some reasonable restrictions on the length of the RTI application, the CIC said.|
|12.||Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/001324/SG/14256 Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2011/001324/SG Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_A_2011_001324_SG_14256_M_65458.pdf||Information which is more than 20 years old should be provided. Rejecting the PIO’s claim for exemption under Section 8(1)(d) & (e) of the RTI Act, the CIC said, since the information was over 20 years old, it should be provided.|
|13.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/001407/8431 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/001407 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_A_2010_001407_8431_M_37416.pdf||Appellant allowed to inspect records and take photocopies of selected records. The FAA of ESIC wrongly denied information using Section 7(9) of the RTI Act. However, during the hearing before the CIC, the PIO agreed to allow the appellant to inspect transfer records and take photocopies of 10 selected documents.|
|14.||Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702/4128 Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-10092009-02.pdf||A citizen has right to use most convenient and efficacious means available to access information. There is no provision in the RTI Act which restrains the citizen’s right to use it if another route to access information has been offered, ruled the CIC.|
|15.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/000770/7670 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/000770 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_A_2010_000770_7670.pdf||Information accessed by public authority has to be supplied to applicant. If a public authority does not obtain the information which the law expects it to have routinely, the reason for its existence becomes suspect, said the CIC.|
|16.||Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001997/6358 Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001997 Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-11012010-17.pdf||Legislations or rules cannot go beyond exemptions provided in Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. Rules framed by a competent authority cannot go beyond the exemptions provided in Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act, said the CIC.|
|17.||Decision No. CIC /OK/A/2008/00860/SG/0809 Appeal No. CIC/OK/A/2008/00860/ Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-31122008-20.pdf||Concept of public interest cannot be invoked for denial of information. Denying information on the basis that there is no larger public interest is flawed, unless it is first established that the information is exempt under the RTI Act.|
|18.||Decision No. CIC /OK/A/2008/01303/SG/1145 Appeal No. CIC/OK/A/2008/01303/ Link: https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-16012009-41.pdf||Keeping committee report under wrap serves no purpose. Inquiries into various matters are conducted with public money and the public has a right to know their findings. Keeping them under wraps for months and years serves no purpose except allowing wrongdoers to be protected|