R. K. Jain vs. UOI (Delhi High Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: April 23, 2012 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (RKJain_Tribunal_Member_Corruption_RTI.pdf)

Tribunal Member’s Corruption Charges Info Can Be Disclosed Under RTI

Certain complaints qua corruption were made against Ms. Jyoti Balasundaram, Member/CESTAT. After examining this complaint, the President of CESTAT made certain adverse entries in the ACR of the said Member. On the basis of the said ACR, the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, opened a file with the subject “follow up action on the integrity in the ACR for the year 2000-01 in respect of Ms. Jyoti Balasundaram, Member (Tech), CESTAT.” Ultimately, this file was closed without taking any proper action. The appellant filed a RTI application seeking inspection of the file & copies of the Note Sheets and correspondence. This was rejected by the CIC on the ground that the issue relating to integrity was a part of the ACR & ACR grades could not be disclosed to third-parties except under exceptional circumstances. The Single Judge held that the information sought was “third party information” and so the authorities had to consider whether the third party’s “privacy” defence could be overruled in the public interest or not. On second appeal, HELD:

U/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual cannot be disclosed unless the authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information. U/s 11 (1), where the CPIO etc intends to disclose the information which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the CPIO is required to give written notice to the third party and invite him to make submissions why the information should not be disclosed. This mandatory procedure has to be followed and the Single Judge rightly directed the CIC to determine whether disclosure of the Tribunal Member’s ACR was in the larger public interest (Arvind Kejriwal vs. CPIO AIR 2010 Delhi 216 followed; Centre for Earth Sciences Studies Vs. Anson Sebastian, 2010 (2) KLT 233 not followed)

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