From the desk of CIC - Declaration of assets by Judges

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Summary

By an application Shri Alok Singhai applied to the PIO, High Court of Delhi seeking the following information: The copies of year wise returns/ declaration of movable/ immovable properties filed by Shri Ripusudan Dayal (retired Chief Justice of Sikkim High court) from the date of resuming office in the capacity of metropolitan can Magistrate in Delhi till, his continuation in the Delhi Judicial Service Act. Shri Singhai received a response from PIO refusing the information. The appeal was also dismissed by Appellate Authority.

Appellant Shri Alok Singhai's filed second appeal before CIC being aggrieved by the decision of first appellate authority. CIC held that the orders of Appellate Authority Shri Kalam Singh in appeal be set aside in light of the ruling of the Delhi High Court (WP(Civil) 288/2009 - Secretary General, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agrawal and Anr. of 2.9.'09). Further CIC held that we cannot direct the CPIO to provide information, which does not exist. The appeal was therefore, disposed of accordingly.

Information about declaration of assets by Judges

Appellants: Shri Alok Singhai Vs. Respondent: High Court of Delhi
Hon'ble Information Commissioners: Wajahat Habibullah, C.I.C.

By an application of 5.7.08, Shri Alok Singhai of Rachna Nagar, Bhopal (MP) applied to the PIO, High Court of Delhi seeking the following information:

The copies of year wise returns/ declaration of movable/ immovable properties filed by Shri Ripusudan Dayal (retired Chief Justice of Sikkim High court ) from the date of resuming office in the capacity of metropolitan can Magistrate in Delhi till, his continuation in the Delhi Judicial

Shri Singhai received a response from PIO Shri P. S. Chaggar dated 1.8.08 refusing the In view of Rule 5 of Delhi High Court (Right to Information) Rules, 2006 the information sought Shri Singhai then moved an appeal before the Registrar (Estt), Delhi High Court on the following The information was sought in public interest and not for any personal gain/ misuse since the appellant/ applicant is moving Hon'ble Supreme Court of India as also M. P. High Court against Justice Shri Dayal and thus purpose for obtaining the information is necessary and it cannot be denied since the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India also directed to keep transparency in such matters. Therefore, the reasons for nor providing information under pretext of Rule 5 of Delhi High Court (Right to Information) Rules, 2006 was not sustainable and the appellant has every right to obtain the required information.

Decision by First Appellate Authority, High Court:

The appeal was dismissed by Appellate Authority Shri Kalam Singh, who held as follows:

Rule 5 (a) of Delhi High Court (Right to Information) Rules, 2006 provides as under: Exemption from disclosure of Information:- The Information specified under Section 8 of the Act shall not be disclosed and made available and in particular the following information shall (a) Such Information, which is not in the public domain or does not relate to judicial functions and duties of the Court and matters incidental and ancillary thereto. Therefore, in view of Rule 5 (a) quoted above, the applicant was not entitled to the information sought by him.

Appellant Shri Alok Singhai's prayer before CIC in his second appeal is as below:

(i) the impugned order dated 1.8.2008 passed by the PIO Delhi High Court and order dated 6.10.2008 passed by the appellate authority, Delhi High Court be

(ii) the Public Information Officer of Delhi High Court be directed to provide the desired information to the appellant forthwith;

(iii) the appellant be compensated adequately for the harassment and mental agony;

(iv) suitable penal action Under Section 20 of RTI Act be taken against the erring Public Information Officer, High Court of Delhi for not providing desired information to the

Protection of Personal Information under section 8(1)(j) RTI Act, 2005:

The Right to Information, being integral part of the right to freedom of speech, is subject to restrictions that can be imposed upon that right under Article 19(2). The revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Government, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and, therefore, with a view to harmonize these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal, Section 8 has been enacted for providing certain exemptions from disclosure of information. Section 8 contains a well defined list of ten kinds of matters that cannot be made public. A perusal of the aforesaid provisions of Section 8 reveals that there are certain information contained in Sub-clause (a), (b), (c), (f),(g) and (h), for which there is no obligation for giving such an information to any citizen; whereas information protected under Sub-clause (d), (e) and (j) are protected information, but on the discretion and satisfaction of the competent authority that it would be in larger public interest to disclose such information, such information can be disclosed. These information, thus, have limited protection, the disclosure of which is dependent upon the satisfaction of the competent authority that it would be in larger public interest as against the protected. There is an inherent tension between the objective of freedom of information and the objective of protecting personal privacy. These objectives will often conflict when an applicant seeks access for personal information about a third party. The conflict poses two related challenges for law makers; first, to determine where the balance should be struck between these aims; and, secondly, to  determine the mechanisms for dealing with requests for such information. The conflict between the right to personal privacy and the public interest in the disclosure of personal information was recognized by the legislature by exempting purely personal information under Section 8(1 )(j) of the Act. Section 8(1 )(j) says that disclosure may be refused if the request pertains to "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." Thus, personal information including tax returns, medical records etc. cannot be disclosed in view of Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. If, however, the applicant can show sufficient public interest in disclosure, the bar (preventing disclosure) is lifted and after duly notifying the third party ( i.e. the individual concerned with the information or whose records are sought) and after considering his views, the authority can disclose it.

CIC held that the orders of Appellate Authority Shri Kalam Singh in appeal be set aside in light of the ruling of the Delhi High Court (WP(Civil) 288/2009 - Secretary General, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agrawal and Anr. of 2.9.'09). Further CIC held that we cannot direct the CPIO to provide information, which does not exist. The appeal was therefore, disposed of accordingly.

Kush Kalra

Kush Kalra

krrish.kush@gmail.com
*Kush is a practicing lawyer at Delhi High Court. He graduated from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab, India in 2012 and has authored a total of 10 books on Law within a year - a National Record! https://www.miraclesworldrecords.com/Gallery/Details/170

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