Legal Advice

Disclosure of information under RTI

Question: 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.

Advise

The Right to Information Act (RTI) was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in government and its institutions, and to prevent corruption. Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution provides freedom of speech and expression, which forms the basis for the RTI Act. The Act only allows access to information that is of public importance, and personal information is protected under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

Private information cannot be accessed unless its disclosure is necessary for the public interest. For Section 8(1)(j) to apply, the personal information requested must not relate to any public activity or public interest, and its disclosure must not cause an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Educational records, such as roll numbers, mark sheets, degree certificates, and photocopies, are exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and must be kept private by universities to maintain their fiduciary relationship with students.

In Mr. Neeraj Kumar vs. JNU (Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2008/00248/), the Chief Information Commissioner held that educational records, degrees, and caste certificates should not be disclosed under RTI unless the person holds a public office, receives a salary from public funds, and performs public functions. In such cases, all documents submitted in connection with the public appointment must be disclosed, and the exemption under Section 8(1)(j) will not apply.

Similarly, in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Central Information Commissioner and others (2013) 1 SCC 212, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the CIC to deny information about the service career, ACR, promotion criteria, and properties of government employees, as such information qualifies as personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

The court affirmed this decision in R.K. Jain vs. Union Of India & Anr AIR 2013, stating that details such as memos, ACRs, show-cause notices, orders of censure/punishment, movable and immovable properties, and investments or borrowing cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act.

In conclusion, service books, ACRs, and personal information cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act, and any information protected under Section 8 is exempt from disclosure by the PIO or any other superior officer.


Question: Can a person seek information about the marksheet of an employee under the RTI? A third party is seeking photo copies of qualification certificates and marksheets of a senior employee without invoking any larger public interest under RTI Act. Is the information exempted under Section 8. What are different judicial precedents in this connection?

Asked from: Jammu & Kashmir

Marksheets of an employee constitute private information and can only be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act if the requester can demonstrate a larger public interest. However, if the employee has been appointed to their position in accordance with the selection rules, there is no public interest in the disclosure of their marksheets.

Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act specifically prohibits the disclosure of personal information, and the disclosure of marksheets in the absence of public interest would constitute an invasion of privacy.

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow