This CIC ruling could help to get citizens to monitor assets of public servants and also expose those who may not be making a truthful declaration of their assets. This is the second in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC that can be used in an RTI application
The public information officer (PIO) cannot deny information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(j) and is bound to provide information about assets of a public servant, ruled the Central Information Commission. This was one of the most important decisions given by Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner (CIC).
“...disclosure of information such as assets of a public servant, which is routinely collected by the public authority and routinely provided by the public servants, cannot be construed as an invasion on the privacy of an individual. There will only be a few exceptions to this rule which might relate to information which is obtained by a public authority while using extraordinary powers such as in the case of a raid or phone-tapping. Any other exceptions would have to be specifically justified,” the Commission said in its order issued on 23 July 2009.
Delhi-based Sat Prakash Tyagi sought information about assets and properties acquired by Anil Tyagi, a junior engineer (JE) with the Delhi Jal Board after his appointment. However, the PIO denied the specific information citing exemption under Section 8(1)(j).
The PIO stated that the information on the assets of JE Anil Tyagi demanded in queries (7 & 8) should not be disclosed since “the property returns submitted by the official are confidential documents and disclosure of this personal information has no relationship to the public activity or interest and hence denied under Section 8(1)(j).”
The third party, Anil Tyagi stated, “My personal property details and other allied details should not be given to the appellant (Sat Prakash Tyagi), who is already having many property dispute cases in different courts in Delhi with me. Such documents will be misused against me in the courts affecting the fair decisions in the court. Moreover we and all my family members are facing acute mental agony and fear of life from the appellant. Such matters have already being informed to the police also.”
The Commission said the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that even people who aspire to be public servants by getting elected have to declare their property details. “If people who aspire to be public servants must declare their property details it is only logical that the details of assets of those who are public servants must be considered to be disclosable. Hence the exemption under Section 8(1) (j) cannot be applied in the instant case.”
While denying the PIO and the third party’s claim for exemption of the information, the CIC in its order on 23 July 2009, asked the PIO to provide information about assets and properties of Anil Tyagi to the applicant before 10 August 2009.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001436/4247
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001436
Appellant :Sat Prakash Tyagi,
S/o Bishamber Dayal Tyagi,
H.No.38, Tyagi Mohalla
Respondent : Vipin Behari
Delhi Jal Board,
Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi,
O/o the Secretary, Varunalaya Ph-II,
Karol Bagh, New Delhi-110005.
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