Delhi HC Orders UIDAI to disclose Copy of Agreements for handling Grievance Redressal under RTI Act

Delhi High Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: October 6, 2023 at 10:53 IST

The Delhi High Court has directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to disclose, under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act), a copy of the agreement between UIDAI and an external organization responsible for handling grievance redressal on its behalf. This decision reaffirms the principles of transparency and good governance.

Justice Subramonium Prasad clarified that all agreements between UIDAI and external organizations involved in the grievance redressal process fall within the purview of the RTI Act. While providing copies of these agreements, non-disclosure agreements with personnel and details of individuals covered by the agreement can be redacted to protect privacy.

“The confidentiality is to be maintained by the agencies only for the purpose of ensuring that the details of the individuals are not revealed to a third party. The entire contract need not be kept a secret, and there is nothing inappropriate in disclosing the agreements more so when the recent trend is to encourage public participation in such ventures,” Justice Prasad emphasized.

He underscored that transparency is a fundamental aspect of good governance, promoting efficiency and effectiveness in government operations.

The court’s decision came in response to a petition filed by lawyer Prashant Reddy T, who sought information under the RTI Act. Reddy challenged a March 20, 2023, order of the Central Information Commission (CIC), which denied him access to the agreements between UIDAI and the external organization responsible for grievance redressal.

The petitioner’s RTI application sought various details about grievance redressal within UIDAI. While the CIC ordered UIDAI to disclose information about staff and complaints related to grievance redressal, it rejected the request for the contract copy.

In his ruling, Justice Prasad clarified that UIDAI’s contracts with external organizations constitute ‘information’ under the RTI Act and should be disclosed.

The contracts have been entered into pursuant to the tenders, and, therefore, it is necessary that there is complete transparency regarding the way these contracts are awarded,” Justice Prasad stated.

As a result, the court modified the CIC’s order and ordered UIDAI to provide the contract to the petitioner.

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