Information about a land purchased by Air India, the payment details, encumbrance certificate etc. was denied u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act - CIC: Appellant has sought information without establishing any larger public interest in disclosure of information
Information sought and background of the case:
(Both the appeals arise out of the same RTI application)
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 01.06.2019 seeking information about a land purchased by Air India. The enquiry of the Appellant has been reproduced verbatim, as follows:-
At the outset of the aforesaid letter sent by you on 29th May, 2019 as such you have revealed that you had purchased the land situated in CTE, Ferozguda Hyderabad in the year 1971. As such I would like to seek:
- The copy of the registered sale deed purchased by you in the year 1971.
- I would like to seek the payment details given against the aforesaid purchase.
- I would like to seek the encumbrance certificate in connection with the aforesaid purchase.
- All other relevant documents in connection with the aforesaid purchase in CTE, Ferozguda in the year 1971 under RTI as such these information are in public domain and I have got the right to sort a copy of all the documents available by you for the said purchase. It is needless that since you have purchased the said property you may not have the sale deed copy. The copy of your letter dated 29th May 2019 is enclosed for your reference. I would state that I am willing to pay the whatever charges as per the RTI Act.
A copy of the letter dated 29.05.2019, which was sent in reference to his earlier RTI application as well as another letter dated 22.07.2019, whereby the reply dated 29.05.2019 was upheld by the FAA has been annexed with the Second Appeal.
An order dated 16.02.2015 passed by the Commission in case no. CIC/SA/C/2014/000372 and another decision in CIC/KY/A/2014/901399 decided on 17.11.2017 have been annexed with the Second Appeal.
CPIO, AGM (P&F), vide letter dated 26.06.2019 denied the information 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 RTI Act, 2005, particularly since no public interest would be served in disclosure of such information.
Dissatisfied with denial of information, Appellant filed a First Appeal dated 04.07.2019 which was decided by order dated 22.07.2019 whereby the PIO’s reply dated 26.06.2019 was upheld.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, the Appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Facts emerging in Course of Hearing:
Written submissions dated 05.05.2021have been found on record whereby the Respondent explained that the instant RTI application dated 01.06.2019 arose out of responses given by the Respondent with respect to an earlier RTI application dated 30.04.2019. The Respondent-Sh. M G Somasekhar-Dy. GM has reiterated that information as available on record has been furnished to the Appellant.
In order to ensure social distancing and prevent the spread of the pandemic, COVID-19, hearing through audio conference was scheduled after giving prior notice to both the parties. Both parties are heard through audio conference wherein the Appellant placed reliance on the decisions of the Commission in the cases CIC/SA/C/2014/000372 and CIC/KY/A/2014/901399, claiming that the sale deed sought by him related to purchase of land by the Respondent in 1971. He contended that the sale deed is a registered document and in public domain, hence, the information pertaining to such a document should be provided to him under the RTI Act, in terms of the ratio of the above mentioned decisions of the Commission.
Upon perusal of records of the case, it is noted that Appellant has placed reliance on CIC decision dated 16.02.2015 in case number CIC/SA/C/2014/000372. The question which was decided in the case relied upon dealt with the question whether GPA executed by mother of the Appellant, could be furnished to the Appellant upon the demise of his mother. The subject matter of the case relied upon and the Appeals being decided herein are distinguishable since the case at hand relates to a sale deed sought by the Appellant, pertaining to a transaction apparently unrelated to the Appellant.
The next case relied upon by the Appellant is a decision dated 17.11.2017 in case number CIC/KY/A/2014/901399 dealt with information sought by the Appellant who was a beneficiary of CGEWHO, Madras Phase-1, project allotment of a dwelling unit and information sought by the Appellant was only the names and addresses of those beneficiaries of CGEWHO, and the names and branches of banks from where they availed the financial assistants to purchase their dwelling houses. The said appeal was decided by the Commission with a direction to:
“…the respondent authority to facilitate inspection of relevant files and provide certified copies of the selected documents to appellant, especially relating to the file concerning house allotted to him, besides the list of beneficiaries..”
It is evident that facts of this case are also not relevant nor applicable to the appeals which are being decided through this decision. No title deed pertaining to a third party had been provided in the decision relied upon even though the Appellant in that case was a beneficiary of the same Government scheme.
The decisions relied upon by the Appellant do not entail furnishing of title deeds pertaining to third parties. On the other hand, the Appellant has sought title deeds in this case of a transaction, which has no connection with him, without establishing any larger public interest in disclosure of the information. Hence, the Commission finds the PIO’s reply satisfactory and upholds the same. No further adjudication is deemed necessary in this case.
The appeals are disposed off accordingly.
Y. K. Sinha
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri S.N. Veerender Yadav v. Air India Ltd. in Second Appeal No. CIC/AIRIN/A/2019/142628 CIC/AIRIN/A/2019/142627, Date of Decision: 13.05.2021