Details of beneficiaries and donors of the PM's relief fund sought under RTI
The appellant sought a number of information relating to the Prime Minister's relief fund including details of beneficiaries and the donors over a period of 10 years. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some statistical details but refused the list of either donors or beneficiaries 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. of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. During the hearing, the appellant referred to section 8(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. of the RTI Act and argued that the desired information should be disclosed in larger public interest. The respondent submitted that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had not been disclosing the details of the donors or the beneficiaries to anyone including even the Parliament and so such information had not been disclosed. They also submitted that the Delhi High Court had stayed an earlier decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in which the PMO was directed to disclose the list of institutional donors.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) held that the list of institutional donors should be disclosed; however, in view of the stay granted by the High Court, such information can no longer be disclosed. It would be right to wait for the final disposal of the matter by the Delhi High Court when it would be clear if this class of information should be disclosed or not. Once the matter before the Delhi High Court is disposed of, the appellant can always seek this information if the High Court decides that such information should be disclosed.
The issue of disclosure of the names of donors and beneficiaries of the funds which is at the discretion of certain authorities such as the Prime Minister or the President has been under debate for long. It would be in the interest of transparency that a pro-active disclosure is made in these cases.
Citation: Mr. Harider Dhingra v. Prime Minister’s Office in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/001990
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/547
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission