Husband Can Seek Wife’s Income Details Through RTI for Maintenance Case, Says CIC

Right to Information RTI Law Insider

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Published on: October 7, 2023 at 09:35 IST

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has addressed a significant query: whether a husband can utilize the Right to Information (RTI) to obtain his wife’s income details to validate evidence in a maintenance case.

Information Commissioner Saroj Punhani presided over the application submitted by the husband, who sought his wife’s income particulars via RTI to corroborate evidence relevant to an ongoing maintenance case.

In response, the husband’s request for income-related details of his estranged spouse was initially denied by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) under the pretext of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, which deals with personal information exemptions.

The Commission examined several precedents, including the cases of Canara Bank vs. C.S. Shyam, Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commissioner & Ors., and R.K. Jain vs. Union of India & Anr., which established that personal records, professional records, medical records, and financial information all fall under the purview of personal information protected from unwarranted intrusion unless larger public interest is demonstrated.

Additionally, the Commission considered the case of Vijay Prakash vs. Union of India, where the court emphasized that the exemption under Section 8(1)(j) should not be lifted or disturbed, especially in private disputes such as those between spouses.

Taking these judgments into account, the Commission directed the respondent to furnish the appellant with generic details of the net taxable income/gross income of his wife, as held and available with the Public Authority for the period 2017-2018, within 15 working days.

In summary, the Central Information Commission has ruled that a husband can request generic income details of his wife through RTI for the purpose of substantiating evidence in a maintenance case, provided that such requests adhere to the privacy exemptions outlined in the RTI Act.

Case Title: Yash Malhotra v. CPIO

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