RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Concept of public interest cannot be invoked for denial of information

Denying information on the basis that there is no larger public interest is flawed, unless it is first established that the information is exempt under the RTI Act. This is the 16th in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Public Information Officer (PIO) or First Appellate Authority (FAA) cannot deny information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, merely on the basis that there is no larger public interest unless it is first established that the information is exempt. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner said, “The concept of public interest cannot be invoked for denial of information. Section 8 (2) empowers the PIO to provide the exempted information if it is in the larger public interest; meaning thereby that access to the exempted information can be allowed if public interest is served in providing the information”.

 

“Any refusal of information has to be only on one or more grounds mentioned in section 8 (1) or Section 9. The Act gives no scope to the adjudicating authorities to import new exemptions other than those that have been provided under the Act and thereby deny the information,” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order dated 31 December 2009.

 

Jaipur resident Mangla Ram Jat, on 22 February 2008, sought information from the Central PIO of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Institute of Medical Sciences regarding the Pre PG Medical (MD/MS) examination 2008. He sought following information...

 

“Kindly make available to me the complete text of the ‘question paper’, provided by the university to the examinees of the pre PG Medical (MD/MS) Examination 2008 held on 17/02/2008 by the institute of medical sciences, along with standard answer key adopted by the university.”

 

The PIO denied the information stating that “...the question paper along with the key answer to M.D/M.S Exam-2008, conducted by the Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU cannot be given to you as the disclosure of the same is not favourable in larger public interest.”

 

Mangla Ram then approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). However, the FAA also denied to provide information saying that, “...the access of the same is not allowed. In a similar type of case, the decision of the Central Information Commission may be observed (Ref: Appeal No844/ICPB/2007 & No 845/ICPB/2007)”.

 

Aggrieved by the reply of the PIO and the FAA, Mangla Ram then filed the  Second Appeal before the Commission.

 

During a hearing on 15 December 2008, the Commission observed that the main issue in this case was the non-supply of question papers along with the standard answer key adopted by the University. The PIO said he denied the information based on a decision given by the Commission in the BL Goel Vs AIIMS case.

 

In the case, the Commission had held: “Regarding Answer Key and the Question Booklet after going through the Committee's report and also the submissions made by the CPIO and AA during the hearing, I come to the conclusion that the AIIMS is taking all precautions in conducting examination in a most satisfactory manner and they have also evolved a foolproof system and it has got several in built checks and by disclosing this information we will not be able to protect any larger public interest. Keeping all these aspects in to account, I fully agree with the stand taken by the CPIO and AA in not providing this information to the appellant.”

 

Mr Gandhi then reserved his decision.

 

During the next hearing on 31 December 2008, the Commission said the RTI is one of the most fundamental human rights and before going further, it is desirable to look into the Preamble of the Act and some of its provisions. The preamble reads as...

 

“AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizen and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed; 

“AND WHERAS revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information;

“AND WHEREAS it is necessary to harmonize this conflicting interest while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;”

 

The preamble is the soul of the Act and clearly spells out the aims and objectives of the Act, Mr Gandhi said. As per Section 3 of the Act, citizen’s right to access information under the Act is absolute, subject only to limitations prescribed under the Act. To make this right meaningful and effective, citizens are not required to give any justification for seeking information, the Commission said.

   

Further, in Section 6 (2) of the Act in crystal clear words it is lays down as follows:

“6 (2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.”

 

The Commission said, any refusal of information has to be only on one or more grounds mentioned in section 8 (1) or Section 9 of the RTI Act. The Act gives no scope to the adjudicating authorities to import new exemptions other than those that have been provided under the Act and thereby deny the information.

 

While deciding the appeal in BL Goel Vs AIIMS case, the Commission came to the conclusion that “by disclosing this information we will not be able to protect any larger public interest”. However, Mr Gandhi said, this Commission, after going through the above quoted sections of the Act is of the view that nothing in the Act envisages denial of information on the ground that the information will not be able to protect any larger public interest.

 

“The test of public interest is to be applied to give information, only if any of the exemptions of Section 8 apply. Even if the exemptions apply, the Act enjoins that if there is a larger public interest, the information would still have to be given. There is no requirement in the Act of establishing any public interest for information to be obtained by the sovereign citizen; nor is there any requirement to establish ‘protecting of any larger public interest’. Therefore, in view of the above provisions of the Act, the denial of information in the Commission's orders are ‘per incuriam’,” Mr Gandhi said in his order.

 

Allowing the appeal by Mangal Ram, the Commission asked the PIO to provide information before 15 January 2009.

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC /OK/A/2008/00860/SG/0809

http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/SG-31122008-20.pdf

Appeal No. CIC/OK/A/2008/00860/

 

                                                                  

Appellant                                            : Mangla Ram Jat,

                                                            Jaipur, Rajasthan.

 

 

Respondent 1                                     : CPIO,

                                                            Banaras Hindu University,

                                                            Institute of Medical Sciences,

                                                            Varanasi

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IndusInd promoter entity sells 33 lakh shares for Rs138 crore

IndusInd International Holdings sold 33 lakh shares out of its 13.12% stake in IndusInd Bank for about Rs423 per share or Rs138 crore

Mumbai: IndusInd International Holdings, one of the promoters of IndusInd Bank, has offloaded nearly 33 lakh shares of the private sector lender for a little over Rs138 crore, reports PTI.

 

This was in addition to 46 lakh shares sold by the IndusInd International Holdings earlier this week for an estimated Rs196 crore.

 

As per bulk data available with the stock exchanges, IndusInd International sold 32.75 lakh shares of the bank.

 

The shares were sold on an average price of Rs423 apiece aggregating to a deal size to Rs138.53 crore, the data showed.

 

Icon Capital A/C Afrin Dia has purchased 16.5 lakh scrips of IndusInd Bank and another 16.25 lakh shares were picked up by Afrin Dia.

 

As of 5th December, IndusInd International Holdings held 6.85 crore or 13.12% stake in the bank.

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COMMENTS

snehakamath

4 years ago

It is interesting to note large sum of Indusind bank is being sold by promoters.

Wonder if this cash creation is for taking over any other company or bank, if so it will be very interetsing to know which one !!

Timtara continues to face ire of disgruntled buyers

Timtara.com is attracting negative publicity due to its pathetic approach towards consumers through delayed shipments of products, inefficient consumer support systems and lack of refunds
 

Despite several warnings and outcries raised by duped consumers, online shopping portal www.timtara.com continues to cheat. Consumers allege the website treats its buyers very rudely. The site neither offers cash-on-delivery, like other portals dealing with online shopping, nor does it deliver products in time to buyers, with innumerable complaints posted on Timtara’s own fan page on social networking website Facebook, as well as, on review websites such as Mouthshut.com.

 

The e-buying website has been attracting negative publicity due to its pathetic approach towards consumers through delayed shipments of products, inefficient consumer support systems and lack of refunds from the website. A Google search about the site throws up interesting results. Most of the complaints generated online, refers to delayed shipments of products.

 

In an e-mail to Moneylife, a disgruntled consumer Niraj Prasad explained that he had purchased a mobile phone Micromax A110 Canvas 2 worth Rs8,990 on 4 December 2012 from the website. His e-mail pointed out that the products, if delivered, are often found to be faulty and the website does not refund the amount to consumers. An inefficient consumer support mechanism chooses to ignore phone calls and refuses to resolve complaints launched by consumers. Consumers allege that the consumer support mechanism of the website seems to have a standard answer for all queries posed to them. Sadly, Niraj’s case is not a stand-alone case. There are numerous complaints, which are similar, across the Internet.

 

Disillusioned by the process of waiting for refunds, the consumers have now launched an online campaign and formed a group on Facebook. The dubious activities of the website and its unclear motives were also featured on a TV programme. In the programme, cyber law expert Pawan Duggal pointed out that consumers can launch complaints under Section 34 of the Consumer Protection Act.

 

Regular monitoring and complaints by consumers ensured that the activities of this website were also highlighted in some newspapers. Moneylife had earlier covered Timtara (please click here to read the article) and noted that even though various discounts were displayed on the official fan page of the website on Facebook, there were several complaints registered against the portal.

 

The National Consumer Helpline informed Moneylife that a consumer can lodge an official complaint with the company, of which a copy has to be retained with the complainant. If the company does not respond within the stipulated period of 10 days, the complainant can move court and the proceedings would be carried forward by the consumer court. An e-mail to Mr Amritlal Saha, chairman, Consumer Coordination Council from Moneylife received a response saying that the complaint has been treated on a priority basis and a copy of the complaint has been forwarded to Mr Suresh Sharma, the director of the Consumer Coordination Council and Mr Giriraj Singh, chief manager of Consumer Online Resource and Empowerment Centre of the Consumer Coordination Council. An e-mail to the consumer support mechanism has also been sent by Moneylife.

 

Nearly every person who owns a computer has bought something from the Internet at least once. The trend of online shopping has been rising rapidly. In the crowded space called Internet, consumers have a plethora of e-commerce websites to choose from. Shopping online has become a matter of convenience for working professionals as it offers greater variety of products and cheaper price deals. Unfortunately, sites like Timtara are ruining the party with their careless attitude and apathy towards buyers.

User

COMMENTS

Dileep Charasala

4 years ago

Timtara.com is cheating company not point of delivery delay. you correct your post,,,. they never delver any product simple collect money. i have purchased sony cd player in 5th Dec 2012 still no product. no money back when ever call customer care they will say waiting for shipment.

Deepak G

4 years ago

I got my money back from timtara by just calling my bank and raising a dispute for the charge stating that they had not delivered the product. 1 sureshot way of getting your money back from Timtara. Nothing else worked.

REPLY

Sagar Rangani

In Reply to Deepak G 4 years ago

please explain all procedure i also victim of timtara.com

VIKALP GUPTA

4 years ago

FRIENDS I TOO HAVE PURCHASED A SEAGATE BACKPLUS 1TB HARDDISK ON TIMTARA ON 04.02.13, Transaction #10172777.

SEEING THE REVIEWS ON VARIOUS WEBSITES I FEEL I WONT RECIEVE MY PRODUCT NOR WILL I GET THE REFUND..

NOW TO TEACH THESE TIMTARA A LESSON HERE ARE THE FOLLOWING TIPS I WILL FOLLOW AND I NEED YOUR HELP!!

1) I WILL FILE A CASE U/S 420,406 and 34 OF the IPC(Indian Penal Code) AGAINST "INFOSECURE CONSULTING PVT. LTD".
BY THIS NOT ONLY THE DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY BUT ALSO THE EMPLOYEES WHO KNOW THAT THE COMPANY IS COMMITTING FRAUD WOULD BE COVERED (AS PER SECTION 34 OF IPC).

2) ALL THE ABOVE SECTIONS ARE OF A CRIMINAL CASE AND NOT CIVIL, SO ARREST WARRANT AGAINST THE DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY WILL ALSO WOULD BE ISSUED AT AN APPROPRIATE STAGE..

3) I WILL EVEN FILE A COMPLAINT TO THE ECONOMIC OFFENCE WING (WHICH LOOK INTO SUCH KIND OF ECONOMIC FRAUDS AND CHEATING).

4) I WILL EVEN FILE A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA FOR THE SAME PURPOSE.
NOW THIS IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP..
I NEED THE MAILS YOU HAVE RECIEVED BY THE TIMTARA WEBSITE IN REGARDS TO PRODUCT PURCHASE AND IN REGARDS TO SUBSEQUENT FOLLOW UPS..
THE MORE MAILS I GET, THE MORE STRONGER OUR PIL WOULD BE.

BELIEVE ME THIS WILL BRING A BIGG DIFFERENCE IN THE ONLINE SHOPPING INDUSTRY!!

"HELP ME AND HELP YOURSELVES"..

TARGET THE PERSONS INVOLVED BEHIND IT AND NOT ONLY THE COMPANY COZ THESE VERY PEOPLE CAN AGAIN START A NEW COMPANY WITH A NEW NAME BY THE TIME ANY ACTION IS TAKEN ON SUCH COMPANY!!

NOTE** - CONSUMER FORUM COURTS ARE JUST "FORUMS", THEY DONT HAVE THE POWER TO ARREST OR SEND PEOPLE TO JAIL!..

MY email id is :- [email protected]

Ayan M itra

4 years ago

My orders below also are not sent and they are not even replying. Please help me someone.

Order #10373146 Contained the Following Items:
Item Details Price
1 x Ozone Electronic Motorised Safe - OTD-101
Total Amount Paid:Rs. 6,043 INR
Date:19-Dec-23012

Order #10368544 Contained the Following Items:
Item Details Price
1 x WD My Passport USB 3.0 1 TB External Hard Disk
Total Amount Paid:Rs. 5,039 INR
Date:12-Dec-2012

Anbarasu

4 years ago

I have made a purchase with them on 12 December 2012 (order id: 10368668), during purchase they mentioned that product will be delivered in 3 weeks time. But they have not kept the promise of delivery in 3 weeks from booking, even though they collected full payment at the time of booking. As of today (7 January 2013) the order status shows as "awaiting shipment", I have called customer care for 5-6 times, but no use from them as they keep extending the delivery date by 2 days but not giving a clear date. Lately I searched over internet to find that thousands of customers who made purchases with them are kept in dark. They did not deliver the products nor refund the money. Customers cannot understand their clear motive behind business. Still looking for ways to get the product or get our money back.

Neeraj Yadav

4 years ago

Hi, I had purchased Samsung Galaxy Y S5360 Mobile phone on 22nd May 2012 vide order no 10259506 for Rs 6449/-. On 18th June i was given to understand that my order has been cancelled as per below message from [email protected] against my complaint number 27830. My order was cancelled and marked as payment refund pending and will be done with in 7-8 working days. But till date i have not received my money.

Today its more than 7 months.

REPLY

prateek

In Reply to Neeraj Yadav 4 years ago

where r u from brother..???

prateek

4 years ago

AM ALSO BUY MOBILE FROM THIS SITE...18-12-2012 STILL AWATING SHIPMENT....SO NOW WHAT CAN I DO AGAINT TIMTARA WEBSITE HTC Desire V 13490

9350556834
8287349696

prateek

4 years ago

AM ALSO BUY MOBILE FROM THIS SITE...18-12-2012 STILL AWATING SHIPMENT....SO NOW WHAT CAN I DO AGAINT TIMTARA WEBSITE HTC Desire V 13490

kalpit

4 years ago

Really shopping with timtara.com was my first unsatisfactory experience. i have ordered Toshiba Led tv on 12-12-2012.order no. was 10367104. and still waiting for shipment. i wish to close this type of cheating websites...

kunalagarwal

4 years ago

Respected sir
I have ordered an ipad 16gb with wifi from timtara website on 10 of September 2012 for which I was issued Order no. as 10323296. For above ordered product I paid Rs. 21501 from my state bank account number 31831611459 .through net banking on the same day for which I was issued payment id no. as 51738051IGC7590511
Delivery was promised to be made 7-10 workings (As per both website and order confirmation)

i waited for 1 month but my product was not delivered . i tried calling customer care but no proper response was given to me . now its been 4 months and 1 they have not delivered nor refunded my money . i have left with no choice thats why i am asking for your help

My details -:



1.Transaction Id : 10142028

2.Order no. -: 10323296

3.Payment Mode-: net banking.

4.Total Rs. -: 21501

5.Payment id no. (bank payment transaction No.) -: sbi bank count no 31831611459 .paid through net banking payment id no. as 51738051IGC7590511

6.Product -: apple ipad 2 16gb with wifi

7.Date of purchase -: 10 of September 2012

8.E-mail -: [email protected]

9.Contact No. -: 9035222338


Niraj Prasad

4 years ago

the link is - https://http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timtaracom-Fraud-...

Niraj Prasad

4 years ago

Thank you Dear Moneylife for this essay. Timtara has been much more than tardy in its service. I am now convinced that it is a full fledged con job. One evidence will suffice. They were selling Micromax A110 as early as beginning of November. It shd be noted that this model was launched on mid November. And the customer who was duped into this trickery was never told anything about 'pre-booking', etc.

There are many more such cases coming to light. I have also found one FB page detailing their activities - https://http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timtaracom-Fraud-...

Thank you,

Niraj Prasad

Radhakrishnan C Nair

4 years ago

I recently had a very similar experience with allschoolstuff.com site. I was one of the earliest proponents of online shopping and did my first purchase way back in 2004. Even then had not experienced such callousness towards the consumer. Lesson learnt, shop only with established online players and resist from new players with too good to be true offers!

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