Delhi HC: “disclosure of interest necessary when applicant seeks personal information through RTI”

Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Delhi High Court Bench headed by Justice Prathibha Singh elucidated on its previous order that disclosure of interest can be asked only if the applicant seeks personal information. 

The previous order, dated 12th January 2021, reads, “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”.

The facts of the concerned case is that the petitioner, whose daughter had applied for the position of Multitasking Staff in the Presidential Estate, filed an RTI Application seeking information regarding the appointments under the aforementioned position. However, the same was not disclosed in the petition.

The Bench while observing the fact that the petitioner’s daughter had not been selected for employment, held that the said petition “clearly points to some ulterior motives.”

The Court relied on Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act which states that an application seeking for any personal information which invades the privacy of an individual must also disclose the interest of the applicant.

Since the petitioner, in this case, had not disclosed the facts of the case, the Court dismissed the petition with Rs 25,000 to be paid to the Delhi High Court Legal Aid Society. The amount is to be paid within two weeks.

The order, however, received a backlash with many experts alleging it to be against section 6(2) of the RTI Act. Section 6(2) reads as follows:

An applicant making a request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.

However, the Court clarified that the order is applicable to only applications that seek personal information.

The High Court of Gujarat, on 27th January 2021, ordered in a similar line. It stated that, “the existence of bona fide reasons is a question of fact, which has to be established by the applicant with relevant material and not just empty and hollow words to be used.”

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