The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act) in India provides citizens with the right to access information held by public authorities. However, the Act also includes certain exemptions that protect sensitive information from disclosure.
However, the RTI Act also includes provisions for protecting personal information and sensitive data. Personal information, as defined under the RTI Act, can be withheld if its disclosure would cause a violation of the individual’s privacy.
In some cases, personal information may be disclosed if it is necessary to serve a larger public interest. Some examples of personal information that can be disclosed under the RTI Act include:
- Information related to the performance of a public official in the discharge of their duties
- Information related to the recruitment and appointment of public officials
- Information related to the conduct of a public official that affects the performance of their duties
- Information related to the administration of a public authority, including information about policies, decisions, and actions
It’s important to note that these exemptions are not absolute and each request for information is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the public authority.
It’s also important to note that, personal information can be disclosed under RTI act only if it is not protected under the Privacy Act, and the disclosure of information is in larger public interest.
According to the RTI Act, personal information can be disclosed if it is in the larger public interest and if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the potential harm to the individual concerned. The information which is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act includes:
- Information that would prejudice the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offense
- Information that would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature
- Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information
- Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information
- 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
- Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders
It’s important to note that in case of personal information, the public authority may disclose the information if it is satisfied that such disclosure would be in larger public interest and if the person to whom the information relates has given his consent in writing.