“Bulkiness” of Information Not a valid ground for Denial of RTI Application: A Critical Analysis of the Delhi HC Ruling

“Bulkiness” of Information Not a valid ground for Denial of RTI Application: A Critical Analysis of the Delhi HC Ruling


The Right to Information (RTI) Act, enacted in 2005, is a significant legislative initiative in India that promotes accountability and transparency in public institutions. This Act improves government openness and accessibility by allowing anyone to obtain information from any public agency or authority. The primary objective is to give the public access to information maintained by government entities, promote transparent governance, and reduce the prevalence of corruption and arbitrary decisions. This article examines a recent and noteworthy decision involving the Right to Information Act of 2005, which has significant implications for citizens and public authorities in maintaining government accountability and transparency. 

Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) v. Kamal Jit Chibber 

Brief Facts of the Case

The case herein involves the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) and its former employee, Kamal Jith Chibber. The respondent, Kamal Jith Chibber, filed multiple RTI applications seeking extensive information about the institute’s financial and administrative activities, including income and expenditure details, directors' travel expenses, and audit objections, among many others. Being dissatisfied with the first appellate authority's decision, the respondent approached the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), who directed the petitioner to facilitate record inspection and cautioned the respondent against abusing the RTI provisions by repeatedly seeking the same information. IIFT, represented by its advocates, challenged the CIC's orders to provide the requested information. The petitioner argued that Chibber's numerous RTI applications were intended to cause inconvenience and disrupt the institute’s authorities. They also claimed that the requested information was voluminous and denied its disclosure under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, as fulfilling the request would require a lot of resources from the petitioner to provide such information.

Legal Background And Issues

The judgment of the Delhi High Court, delivered by Hon'ble Justice Subramonium Prasad on April 26, 2024, addresses the interpretation and application of the RTI Act, particularly stressing the duties of public authorities under the Act. The petitioner argued that responding to the respondent’s information requests would require ample resources and disrupt the petitioner's operation. 

The primary issue before the Delhi High Court was whether the CIC’s directives, which mandated the IIFT to provide extensive information, were justified or not?


The primary argument advanced by the petitioner was that responding to the respondent's numerous RTI requests would considerably divert resources away from the institute's essential duties. IIFT said gathering the needed information would be time-consuming and disruptive to their routine operations. However, the court denied this claim, underlining that the primary goal of the RTI Act is to promote transparency. The court emphasized that public authorities must provide citizens with information to guarantee that government operations are conducted openly and must be accountable, regardless of the work necessary to assemble the information.

The court further explained that the volume or bulkiness of the information cannot be regarded as a valid reason for denial under the RTI Act. This is an essential aspect of the judgment, as the court laid down that the logistical challenges, such as the voluminous nature of the requested information, do not exempt public authorities from their duty to provide information. The court's view guarantees that the RTI Act remains a vital instrument for individuals to keep public institutions accountable while preventing public authorities from utilizing the amount of information as an excuse for denying genuine applications.

The court also addressed the petitioner’s claim that the respondent’s RTI applications were repetitive and were solely intended to cause disruption. Upon examining the nature of the respondent’s requests, the court found that each application sought different information rather than requesting the same information. This finding was significant because it demonstrated that the respondent was not misusing the RTI Act to harass the institute but was legitimately seeking various information. The court emphasized that the RTI Act does not allow withholding information on the grounds of voluminousness unless the information falls under specific exemptions outlined in Section 8 of the Act.

The petitioner further argued that the bulky nature of the sought material justified its denial under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act. The court held that Section 7(9) may only apply when satisfying the request would disproportionately divert the public authority's resources or threaten the safety or preservation of the information. The court reaffirmed that Section 7(9) does not include an exception based on the amount or volume of the material. Instead, it provides information in a less burdensome manner, such as through record inspection or summaries. Additionally, the respondent contended that the information he sought did not fall under any exemptions listed in Section 8 of the Act, including national security, personal privacy, or commercial confidence. The court affirmed this argument, noting that the exemptions under Section 8 are very narrowly defined to protect genuinely sensitive information. Since IIFT’s contention did not contain anything relating to the exemption given under section 8, its denial of information solely because the information sought was voluminous and bulky was deemed invalid.

After considering all of the grounds, the court dismissed the petitioner's plea, finding that the information requested by the respondent did not come within any of the exclusions specified in Section 8. The petitioner's main argument for not providing the requested information was its bulkiness, which is not an acceptable basis for refusal. The court found that adopting the petitioner's arguments would create a new exception under Section 8, which was not the court's intention, and consequently rejected the petition.


The Delhi High Court's decision in Indian Institute of Foreign Trade v. Kamal Jit Chibber highlights the essential principles of the Right to Information Act (RTI). The court upheld the Chief material Officer's decision to make available the sought information, reinforcing the Act's objective and commitment to improving openness and accountability in public institutions. This decision demonstrates that the volume or bulkiness of material cannot be used as a basis for denial, guaranteeing that practical problems shall not impede the right to access information.

Furthermore, the decision clarifies the interpretation of Sections 7(9) and 8 of the RTI Act. It underlines that Section 7(9) does not exclude public bodies from providing extensive information but instead suggests ways to deliver it more efficiently. The court further emphasizes that the exclusions under Section 8 are tightly designed to safeguard susceptible information and should not be used to suppress data.

This decision establishes an important precedent for future RTI applications, confirming that public entities cannot avoid their duties by invoking the volume or bulkiness of the requests. It underlines the judiciary's responsibility to protect citizens' right to information and keep public government transparent and accountable. The decision serves as a timely reminder of the RTI Act's goal of encouraging an open and democratic society for both public authorities and people.