Certified copy of correspondence between RBI and NCPI was denied u/s section 8 (1) (e) and 8(1)(j) - CIC: The reply was evasive and incomplete; Respondent to revisit the RTI application and provide proper reply against point nos. 2 & 3 of the application
1. The issues under consideration arising out of the second appeal dated 11.02.2019 include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through his RTI application dated 04.11.2018 and first appeal dated 03.12.2018:-
(i) Certified copy of Letter sent to NPCI Chairman Shri B. Sambamurthy dated 29 December 2017 – File number – DPSS.CO.OD.No. 1850/06.07.012/2017-2018 by Executive Director – S. Ganesh Kumar.
(ii) Certified copy of Letter received from NPCI number -NPCI/17-18/BS/068 dated October 30, 2017.
(iii) Certified copy of Letter received from NPCI number - NPCI/17-18/BS/075 dated December 22, 2017.
(iv) Please provide certified copy of Letter sent to NPCI Chairman Shri B. Sambamurthy dated January 25, 2018 File number DPSS.CO.OD.NO.2127/06.07.012/2017-2018 by Executive Director – S. Ganesh Kumar.
2. Succinctly facts of the case are that the appellant filed an application dated 04.11.2018 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai, seeking aforesaid information. The CPIO vide letter dated 03.12.2018 replied to the appellant. Dissatisfied with the CPIO’s reply, the appellant filed first appeal dated 03.12.2018. The First Appellate Authority vide order dated 10.01.2019 disposed of the first appeal. In compliance of the FAA’s order, the CPIO provided revised reply/information to the appellant dated 29.01.2019. Aggrieved by that, the appellant filed a second appeal dated 11.02.2019 before this Commission which is under consideration.
3. The appellant has filed the instant appeal dated 11.02.2019 inter alia on the grounds that reply given by the CPIO against point nos. 2 and 3 of the RTI application was not satisfactory. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide complete information and take necessary action as per Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act.
4. The CPIO vide letter dated 03.12.2018 denied the information under section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act. The FAA vide order dated 10.01.2019 directed the CPIO to revisit the RTI application afresh having regard to the provisions of the RTI Act within 15 days. In compliance of the FAA’s order, the CPIO vide letter dated 29.01.2019 provided revised reply wherein they provided copies of documents sought on point nos. 1 and 4 of the RTI application and against point nos. 2 and 3 of the RTI application stated that NPCI had not consented for disclosure of the information.
5. The appellant through audio and on behalf of the respondent Ms. Lali Ramesh and Shri Sudhanshu Prasad, CPIO RBI, Bandra attended the hearing through video conference.
5.1. The appellant inter alia submitted that information sought on point nos. 2 and 3 of the RTI application was not provided by the respondent till the date of hearing. He further submitted that information was denied without giving proper reasons and the respondent did not claim any exemption clause as mention in the RTI Act in their revised reply. He contended that act of the CPIO was against the spirit of the RTI Act.
5.2. The respondent while defending their case inter alia submitted that in compliance of the FAA’s order, they had provided information/documents sought on point nos. 1 and 4 of the RTI application. With respect to query Nos. 2 & 3, since the information sought pertained to NPCI, the procedure for third party information, as laid down under Section 11 of the RTI Act, was followed in order to comply with the order of the FAA. NPCI vide letter dated 23.01. 2019 represented against disclosing the information sought by the appellant. It was further informed that the third party, NPCI submitted to the CPIO that information sought pertained to personal information which was exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. and also contained sensitive/confidential communication between NPCI and RBI. Moreover, the disclosure of information sought against query nos. 2 and 3 would not serve any larger public interest. Thereafter, the CPIO inter alia, considered the written submissions made by NPCI and accordingly decided not to disclose the information.
6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both the parties and perusal of records, observes that the respondent have provided information against point nos. 1 and 4 of the RTI application in compliance of the FAA’s order vide their letter dated 29.01.2019. However, against point nos. 2 and 3 of the RTI application, they replied the appellant that NPCI had not consented for disclosure of the information citing confidentiality issues, as provided in Section 11 of RTI Act 2005.Further, during the course of hearing the respondent claimed exemptions under section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, though the same was not claimed while replying to the appellant. Thus, it is evident that submission and the reasoning given by the respondent during the hearing was not reflected in their reply given to the appellant. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in W. P. (C) 12428/2009 & CM APPL 12874/2009 dated 15.12.2010 it was observed that:
“6. This Court is inclined to concur with the view expressed by the CIC that in W.P. (Civil) 12428/2009 order to deny the information under the RTI Act the authority concerned would have to show a justification with reference to one of the specific clauses under Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. In the instant case ………….”
6.1 In view of the aforesaid discussions and observations, the Commission feels that the reply given by the respondent was evasive and incomplete. Hence, the respondent may revisit the RTI application and provide proper reply/information against point nos. 2 and 3 of the RTI application be made available to the appellant, within three weeks from the date of receipt of this order. With the above observations and directions, the appeal is disposed of.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Neeraj Sharma v. Reserve Bank of India in Second Appeal No.CIC/RBIND/A/2019/602687, Date of order - 08.07.2021