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Disclosure of information under RTI

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Can information under RTI ACT be taken regarding the degrees, name of the university where one had been reading? Roll no of the university, photocopies of the Degrees, photocopies of Service Book & ACRs of Government employees, through their public information officers.

Can the authority higher than the PIO of a concerned Government employee ask for the above-said information of the Government employee under RTI act or direct the PIO to supply directly the information to the RTI Activist. Are these things be named as personal information and is there any exemption Under RTI Act or Not.P lease explain in detail and Lucid/simple way.

Disclosure of educational records to the third party:- The object behind the right to information act is to preserve the democratic idea and to create a culture of transparency and accountability in government and in its institutions to prevent corruption. Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution provides freedom of speech and expression to all of its citizens. This right constituted the basis for the enactment of RTI Act. Only those information are accessible through this Act which has public importance; private information is protected under section 8(1)(j) on the RTI Act.

No one can access the private information of the individual unless its disclosure is necessary for the interest of the public. The exemption under Section 8(1)(j) is available in respect of “personal information” of an individual. For the exemption to come into operation, the personal information sought:-

  • Should not have relation to any public activity, or public interest.
  • Should be such as to cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.

Obtaining information towards Roll no., mark sheet, degree certificate and photocopies of all the educational records of the individual is exempted under section 8(1)(j) on the RTI Act thus it cannot be disclosed through RTI. University has a fiduciary relationship with the students, so it is the primary duty of the university to keep all educational records of its students in private and not disclose information regarding such records to the third person under RTI Act.

In Mr Neeraj Kumar vs. JNU (Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2008/00248/) it is held by the Chief Information Commissioner that degree, educational records, and caste certificate shall not be disclosed under RTI but when that person holds a public office, getting a salary from the public exchequer and discharging public functions in a public institution, therefore whatever documents he/she has submitted in pursuance of his/her appointment to public office in a public institution falls in the public domain and all such document submitted by him shall be disclosed under RTI. An exemption granted under section 8(1)(j) will not be applicable.

So it is clear from the above discussion that degree, mark sheet, and roll no, etc. Cannot be disclosed under RTI to the third person having no legitimate interest in its disclosure. It may be published in the broader public interest when such disclosure is connected with the public officer.

Service Book & ACRs of Government employees:-

In Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Central Information Commissioner and others (2013) 1 SCC 212. The decision of the CIC was challenged before the supreme court and the court affirmed the decision given by the CIC. The decision of the CIC was:-

“Central Information Commissioner denied the information pertaining to the service career, ACR, criteria of promotion, etc. and also denied the details relating to assets, liabilities, movable and immovable properties of the third party on the ground that the information sought for was qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.”

The Supreme Court has decided that:- it is not in the public interest to disclose information towards service career, ACR and all details about properties of the public servant, therefore, the decision of the CIC is correct.

In R.K.Jain vs. Union Of India & Anr AIR 2013: the Supreme Court again reiterated the decision given in the Girish Ramchandra Deshpande and held that:-

“the petitioner herein sought for copies of all memos, ACR, show-cause notices and censure/punishment awarded to the third respondent from his employer and also details viz. movable and immovable properties and also the details of his investments, lending and borrowing from banks and other financial institutions.

We are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the details called for by the petitioner, i.e., copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, ACR, show-cause notices and orders of censure/punishment, etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act thus cannot be disclosed.”

So it is clear from the above discussion that service book and ACR cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act. PIO or another superior officer cannot disclose any information which is protected under section 8. Section 8 is an exemption clause and information falling under this section is protected from disclosure.

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