Property statements not `confidential` info: CIC

Property statements filed by civil servants are not confidential information and can be disclosed after taking the views of concerned officials as per the provisions of the RTI Act, the CIC has held.

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2010, 00:31 AM IST

New Delhi: Property statements filed by
civil servants are not confidential information and can be
disclosed after taking the views of concerned officials as per
the provisions of the RTI Act, the Central Information
Commission has held.

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah
rejected the plea of Department of Personnel and Training that
these records were held "in confidence" by the government and
are hence exempted from disclosure.

"It is clear that the property statements are statements
regarding private individuals serving in government and (they)
become part of Government records," he said.

Habibullah said by no means these records can be treated
as information held "in confidence" by the government.

He said these records come in the category of "personal
information" the disclosure of which could amount to invasion
of privacy and would attract section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

There are 10 exemption clauses provided under the
section 8(1) of the RTI Act which exempt disclosure of
different categories of information. Section 8(1)(j) exempts
personal information from disclosure unless larger public
interest is demonstrated by the RTI applicant.

The case relates to an RTI application filed by Shyam Lal
Yadav where he sought details of property statements filed by
bureaucrats and their relatives.

Habibullah said in cases where information of personal
nature is sought, section 11 (1) of the Right to Information
Act also applies. As per the provision, it is appropriate to
make such disclosure after reference to officials about whom
information has been sought.

"Issue notice to third parties within five working days
of receipt of this decision notice and proceed to disclose the
information sought by appellant Shyam Lal Yadav, if no viable
objection based on exemption under section 8(1) is received
within 10 days of the date of issue of such notice," he said.

PTI