Wednesday, 27 June 2012

RTI has primacy over privacy: CIC

Ashish Tripathi, New Delhi, June 19, 2012, DHNS:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has stated that a citizen’s right to information would get primacy over an individual’s right to privacy, adding weight to the principle of transparency.

In an important decision, the transparency panel said though the state had no right to invade the privacy of an individual but in extraordinary circumstances, where the government sought information from citizens, details could be given out under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

This would make job applications as well as details given by citizens to seek licence and passport etc, open to disclosure under the RTI Act. The Commission trashed a circular issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal ministry to deal with the transparency law, prohibiting disclosure of such information, cumstances, special provisions of the law will apply, usually with certain safeguards. Therefore, where the state routinely obtains information from citizens, this information is in relationship to a public activity and will not be an intrusion on privacy,” Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said.

The commission was dealing with an appeal filed by Hyderabad resident P Pramod Kumar seeking information on the application as well as other certificates filed by Savitha Kalikar for obtaining passport, which were denied by the authorities on the ground that those were personal information exempted from disclosure. Gandhi rejected the argument of the Public Information Officer of Regional Passport Office that there was a circular from DoPT, which stated such details could not be released.

Positive push

* Citizen’s right to information overrides an individual’s right to privacy

* Job applications, details given by citizens to seek licence and passport etc are open to disclosure under RTI Act

* Department of Personnel and training (DoPT) circular against making such disclosures trashed

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