Libertatem Magazine

Delhi High Court Ruled Disclosure of Interest in Information Sought Under Rti Act Necessary to Establish Bonafides of Applicant

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The Delhi HC opined that disclosure of the interest of information is necessary for the information sought under the RTI Act for establishing bonafide of the applicant. This was whenever information was sought under the Right To Information Act (Hari Kishan v. President Secretariat).

Facts of the case

The Petitioner had sought information regarding appointments made for Multi Tasking Staff (MTS). This was at the Presidential Estate, Rashtrapati Bhawan, and sought under the RTI Act. The total number of candidates, examination center, etc were also provided to the Petitioner. However, the personal details of all selected candidates were refused by the Competition Commission of India. The personal details included residential addresses and the father’s names of the selected candidates. The Petitioner was represented by Advocate Milind P Singh appeared. The Secretariat was represented by CG standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia . CIC was represented by Standing Counsel Gaurang Kanth.

Contentions of Petitioner and Respondent

The CIC not giving reasons to reject the prayer was the contention of the Petitioner before the HC. Anurag Ahluwalia submitted that the information sought by the Petitioner was extremely wide. It invaded the privacy of the persons who had been appointed as Multi-Tasking Staff. 

Court’s observation:

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh had been set up. It was stated that such disclosure would establish the bona fides of the applicant. Injustice would be prevented to persons whose information was sought. The fact that the Petitioner’s daughter too had applied for an appointment to MTS was not mentioned in the writ petition. This was recorded by the High Court

The Court perused the writ petition. It observed that the Petitioner himself was working in the Presidential Estate on an ad-hoc basis from 2012-2017. The Order specified that ulterior motives can be clearly noticed in seeking the above information. This was especially after the Petitioner’s daughter did not obtain employment. The Court opined that disclosure of an interest in the information sought would be necessary. This was to mainly 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 were 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 inquiry. 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 is invasive of the privacy of individuals. 

Court’s Order 

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.

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