The Delhi High Court has opined that whenever information is sought under the Right to Information Act, disclosure of interest in the information sought is necessary (Hari Kishan v. President Secretariat).
Such disclosure will establish the bona fides of the applicant and prevent injustice to persons whose information is sought, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh has said.
The petitioner before the Court had sought information under the RTI Act in respect of appointments made for Multitasking Staff at the Presidential Estate, Rashtrapati Bhawan.
While information with respect to the notification, total number of candidates, examination centre etc was provided to the petitioner, information with respect to personal details of all selected candidates was refused by Central Information Commission (CIC).
The personal details included residential addresses and father’s names of the selected candidates.
The petitioner argued before the High Court that the CIC gave no reasons to reject the prayer.
Counsel for the President’s Secretariat submitted that the information sought by the petitioner was extremely wide and, in fact, invaded the privacy of the persons who had been appointed as Multi-Tasking Staff.
The Court recorded that while the petitioner’s daughter had also applied for appointment to the Multi-Tasking Staff at Rashtrapati Bhawan, this fact was not mentioned in the writ petition.
A perusal of the writ petition also showed that the petitioner himself was earlier working in the Presidential Estate on an ad-hoc basis, from 2012-2017, the Court added. The order notes,
“The present writ petition is cleverly quiet about the fact that the Petitioner’s daughter had applied for being considered for appointment for the post of Multi-Tasking Staff at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The seeking of the above information, especially after the Petitioner’s daughter did not obtain employment, clearly points to some ulterior motives.”
In view of the above, the Court opined,
“This Court is of the opinion that whenever information is sought under the RTI Act, disclosure of an interest in the information sought would be necessary to establish the bonafides of the applicant. Non-disclosure of the same could result in injustice to several other affected persons, whose information is sought.”
As far as the merits of the case was concerned, the Court said that the information sought in respect of the names of the fathers and residential addresses of the candidates was completely invasive and would be a roving and fishing enquiry.
The Court explained that the information sought was clearly protected under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act which provides that any such information which constitutes personal information and is invasive of the privacy of individuals.
Finding no merit in the petition, the Court proceeded to dismiss it. Costs of Rs. 25,000 were also imposed on the petitioner for concealing material facts.
Advocate Milind P Singh appeared for the petitioner.
Central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia appeared for the Secretariat. Standing Counsel Gaurang Kanth appeared for the CIC.