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Get call details under RTI Act

Can I get call details under RTI Act? I want CDR and tower location of a person because he has eloped my sister. He is studying in her class and he has instigated my sister to leave the house. When my sister left the house he was present in our village. Thereafter both are missing. I suspect that he is in contact with my sister. Therefore, I need his call detail record which may give some clue about the incident. If it is possible to get CDR, then please inform under which provision?

Question from: Bihar

You want to access the call detail record (CDR) of a private person which is maintained by the telephone operator. That telephone operator is a private company which does not come under the purview of public authority. The provisions of the RTI Act do not apply to the private body, person or institution. Therefore, you cannot get the call details from the telephone operator under the Right to Information Act.

Call details under RTI Act

The CDR is not a piece of public information. It is indeed a personal information thus, the Public Information Officer (PIO) cannot disclose it under the RTI. When the personal information carries some public importance then the PIO will provide them in the service of public interest. If you want call details under the RTI Act then you have to prove that its disclosure is necessary for the broader public interest.

In Asia Ummer Nattukallingal v. BSNL, [2011] CIC 11120 the Central Information Commission held that needless to say, the call details are personal information and this information can be disclosed only in the larger public interest.

File No. CIC/LS/A/2011/000069

In your case, there is no significant public interest in giving CDR of a private person merely on the suspicion of a crime. You can get the call details of that person after lodging the FIR because the CDR will then become an important piece of evidence. It may give some relevant information about the crime and criminal as well. Hence, this would establish a larger public interest in getting the CDR.

The CDR of a third party is privileged information, hence, you cannot obtain call details under the RTI Act. Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act prohibits to disclose information of a third party. According to sub-clause (j) of section 8 (1), a citizen has no right to get the personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest.

In Vikas Goel v. CPIO [2013] CIC 2407, the Central Information Commission (CIC) held that service provider is bound to protect the confidentiality of its subscribers. It cannot disclose to the third-party information relating to mobile/telephone connection of any subscriber. This information is exempted under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act unless the third person shows larger public interest in such disclosure.

Lodge an FIR instead to get call details

Your sister is missing in suspicious circumstances so you should immediately file an FIR instead to get call details under the RTI Act. The investigating officer has the power to obtain CDR in the course of an investigation. The investigating office may approach the service provider to provide the CDR of the accused. Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives such power to the investigating officer to direct a person to provide relevant information pertaining to the crime. 

Also read: What to do when government is tapping your phone call?

The investigating officer, however, has the power to collect CDR during the investigation. Section 161 & 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empower him to obtain relevant evidence about the offence. He can directly approach the service provider to give CDR instead of getting call details under the RTI Act. 

CDR is not a public information

Someone using my call details and tracking me. I have been receiving some calls from a unknown person and he is threatening me. He is accessing my call details and sending it to a police officer. That police officer is calling me at the police station. He is saying that a criminal case is registered against me. Sir, I want call details of those unknow numbers. How can I get CDR of those numbers?

Question from: Varanasi

You cannot get call details record (CDR) of those numbers because it is not a public information. The provisions of Right to Information Act apply only on public information. A common citizen can access only public information through the RTI. The basic object of RTI to bring transparency and accountability in the functioning of government. Thus, information about call details of individual person does not come within the purview of RTI Act.

That unknown person is threatening you hence, you can lodge an FIR against him. You can lodge FIR against the unknown person. The police officer has no right to call a person at his police station without any reason. You should file an application before the judicial magistrate and seek information about filing of any FIR against you. The judicial magistrate can call a report from the concerned police station. Don’t go to the police station and follow the instruction of that unknown person.

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