Exemption From Disclosure of Information under RTI Act, 2005


Exemption From Disclosure of Information under RTI Act, Section 8 of the Act attempts to balance the public interest with the right to information of individuals. Though the Act intends to give individuals a progressive and participatory right in a meaningful way, it must also take into account the larger national interest. Regardless of the valued goal of transparency in governance, some crucial confidential components of governance cannot be overlooked or abandoned. As a result, Section 8 contains specifics on some types of information that must be kept out of the purview of the Act to the extent specified.

Following are the Provisions Regarding Exemption From Disclosure of Information : –

Table of Contents

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,

(a) information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence;


It looks after broad national interests. Information on the country’s sovereignty, integrity, and security cannot be shared if it jeopardises the national interest. It may contain information concerning strategic defence issues. For example, the deployment of forces for the country’s defence, the procurement of arms and other requirements for the defence forces, the strategic movements of the defence and paramilitary forces, anti-terrorist operations, and so on are all very sensitive issues that must be planned and carried out in a confidential manner. Any disclosure of information relevant to these topics may be damaging to the cause of the nation’s sovereignty, integrity, and security.

In Rajiv Rufus v. Supreme Court of India, the CIC was hearing an appeal in which the CIC sought the proceedings of the Supreme Court full court meeting, file notings, and letters from the CII to the parliamentary standing committee relating to the establishment of a Supreme Court bench outside Delhi. The CIC noticed that disclosing this sensitive material could raise regional sensitivities, leading to law and order issues, and invoked Section 8 I (a) of the Act, declining to provide the information.

As a result, each case must be considered in its whole, and the PIO must make an informed decision.

Similarly, the State’s scientific and economic interests must be treated with sensitivity and confidentiality in mind, for example, development and research in defence products, commercial contracts relevant to these concerns, and international trade contracts. All of these concerns are sensitive, and therefore cannot be routinely disclosed to an ordinary citizen under the right to information given by this Act.

Aside from that, problems concerning the country’s international relations and foreign policy are similarly contentious. Some topics are so sensitive and confidential that they cannot be disclosed to anybody other than the core group of people handling them; thus, they are not covered by the right to information. Furthermore, any information that could lead to an incitement of offence cannot be shared. It may contain critical information about a communal schism, which could cause significant disturbance in society.

This section of Section 8 provides the most important exemptions relating to essential national issues of a very sensitive nature. Certain topics are completely exempt, and there is almost no public interest that could outweigh these critical national matters. No issue is more vital than the nation’s sovereignty, integrity, and security, which must be preserved and protected under all circumstances. As a result, the right to information would not apply in these cases.


The CIC (FB) considered this question in Nusli Wadia v. MEA. The case concerned Jinah House in Bombay, and the appellant’s request for information was denied on the grounds that disclosing the material might jeopardise India’s relations with a foreign state. The appellant’s initial appeal was also denied. Finally, the CIC directed the relevant authority to apply the

Section 10 of the RTI Act had to be followed, and the information to be disclosed was to be separated from the information that could not be disclosed. Nonetheless, the Commission cited the following excerpt from the Delhi High Court’s decision in Bhagat Singh v. CIC.

(b) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;


This section of the subsection safeguards the information in accordance with the court’s specific directives. It exempts information from publication that is prohibited by particular court or tribunal orders. Although courts generally hold hearings in public and announce findings in open court, Nonetheless, due to the sensitivity of the topic, the hearing is occasionally conducted in camera, and the proceedings of the court are kept confidential. Similarly, certain critical comments and evidence in such cases may be kept secret, as leaking or publication of the contents of such cases may have an unfavourable impact on the merits of the case or may result in dangerous consequences.

In such cases, the court or tribunal may issue explicit orders prohibiting the public disclosure of such information. If the material is disclosed or published notwithstanding this, it would be considered contempt of court. As a result, such information is exempt from the scope of this Act.

Nevertheless, the SPIOS occasionally misapplies this clause. Notwithstanding this apparent provision, there is misunderstanding over the information relevant to the outstanding court matters. It is sometimes attempted to apply this exception to such circumstances on the grounds that the matter is pending and so information cannot be supplied, however this is a complete misnomer.

This provision forbids the application of the Act only to the extent such information is forbidden to be published by a specific order of the court or tribunal and it does not look beyond that As a result, the fact that a case is pending in court is no reason to deny access to material. Alternatively, procedural law based on natural justice principles permits each party to learn about the other side’s case. That is why there is a system of witness examination and cross-examination, as well as reply and replications between the parties. As a result, information cannot be withheld from anyone on this basis as a matter of legal right.

Hence, under this provision, only information expressly disallowed by the court is immune from the Act’s restrictions, and nothing else. In one of the appeals, such a case was heard by the CIC. The CIC ruled that information could not be kept only because an issue was in court, unless there was an explicit court order forbidding such publication.

In Khanapuran Gandaiah v. Administrative Officer & Ors. the information sought was pertaining to the circumstances under which an Appellate Judicial Court had passed an order dismissing the appeal against the interim relief granted by the Trial Court. Rather than challenging the said order in appeal particular applicant filed an application under Section 6 of RTI Act to know why and for what reasons respondent No. 4 (The Appellate Court) had come to a conclusion which was against the petitioner. Why his certain arguments were not taken note of while deciding the appeal. The Apex Court while dismissing the SLP observed:

“A judge speaks through his judgments or orders passed by him. If any party feels aggrieved by the order/judgment passed by a judge, the remedy available to such a party is either to challenge the same by way of appeal or by revision or any other legally permissible mode.

No litigant can be allowed to seek information as to why and for what reasons the judge had come to a particular decision or conclusion. A judge is not bound to explain later on for what reasons he had come to such a conclusion” Therefore, the application filed by the petitioner before the public authority was declared per se illegal and unwarranted.

(c) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;


This part of the sub-section also operates on similar lines as does the preceding part. In the earlier part it is the contempt of court which forbids the information to be published, whereas in this part it is breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature which regulates the imparting of information Here it deals with the information regarding matters which have been specifically forbidden by the Parliament or the State Legislature to be published.

The Parliament and the State Legislature have also got certain privileges pertaining to conduct of their business. Although the proceedings of the legislative bodies in our democratic set up are open and even it is freely reported in print and electronic media. The live telecast of the proceedings of the Parliament on Doordarshan is in everybody’s knowledge.

However, the Constitution provides certain privileges to these legislative bodies under which they may pass certain orders. Any breach of such privileges of the Parliament or the State Legislature is an offence for which they have powers to punish also.

Therefore, any publication of such information which may result in breach of such privilege is prohibited. Accordingly, the same is exempted from the application of provisions of the Right to Information Act.

In Manohar Parikar v. Accountant General, Goa & others,’ the question before the commission was whether the information pertaining to an audit report including drafts reports, half reports, half margins and draft audit notes was exempted under the provisions of Section 8(i)(c) of the RTI Act. It was primarily declined by the public authority on the ground that the disclosure of this variety of information would constitute premature revelation of matters before the Parliament or the State Legislature.

The Commission obtained the opinion of the Secretary General, Lok Sabha and sought the corporation of Comptroller and Audit General of India. The Secretary General, Lok Sabha in his opinion conveyed that imparting of such information did not comprise breach of privilege. After considering the whole issue at length the CIC directed the respondents to disclose all the information requested by the appellants.

Thus, it is clear that the provisions of Section 8(1) (c) cannot be applied without due examination of the issue and before application of this provision, it has to be ascertained whether the disclosure of information asked for would actually amount to breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature

(d) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;


This exemption has been provided to protect the interest of persons involved in trade and commerce and of those who have intellectual property rights. It is to maintain the competition in trade and commerce. This is not purely a protection of Government interest or that of any Public Authority for that matter Here the interest of the third party is protected wherein the information given by him in connection with trade or commerce might harm his competitive position.

The trade secrets of a particular person may be strictly personal to him which he might have conveyed to some Public Authority in confidence keeping in view his business interest. Such secrets are not to be disclosed.

In Mahender Singh v. CPIO SEBI, it was held that the background papers including the file noting leading to the consent orders should not be disclosed in the public domain not only because these would contain information in the nature of commercial confidence but also because SEBI receives such information in confidence and trust Thus the commission has clarified that notwithstanding the value attracted to transparency of the Act, it cannot erode the privacy of individuals which stands protected under the Act under various provisions of Section 8 (1)

This provision of Section 8 (1) (d) is parallel to the provisions given in Section 11 of the Act. But the basic difference between Section 8 (1) (d) and Section 11 is that Section 11 is a general provision specifying the procedure for the protection of interest of the third party. It is applicable to all type of interests of the third party irrespective of exemption under Section 8 (1) (d) as such. The competent authority has to hear the third party before deciding whether the information pertaining to the third party has to be allowed or not. But the information specifically mentioned in Section 8 (1) (d) is exempted as such at the first instance.

However, if the competent authority is satisfied that such information has to be disclosed in the larger public interest, it means such information has to be disclosed as an exception and not in general routine However, there is no absolute ban on the disclosure of such information and the competent authority can allow such disclosure if the public interest so demands.

But it is pertinent to mention here that if the competent authority intends to disclose such information, it can’t be done without hearing the interested third party. Though this particular sub section does not mention it but it would definitely attract the procedure given under Section 11. It is primarily due to the fact that law of natural justice requires it.

Again if to compare the information under Section 8 (1) (d) and Section 11 as such, the former is exempted from the preview of the Act at the initial stage whereas, no such exemption is available under the latter. Therefore, when the information which is not exempted as such can’t be given without hearing the third party, it is but natural to hear such third party when the primarily exempted information has to be disclosed. Therefore, the procedure given under Section 11 will have to be followed if the competent authority intends to disclose the information under Section 8 (1) (d)

In Institute of Chartered Accountants of India v. Shaunak H. Satya & Ors. the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India was dealing with the exemption under various sub-sections of Section 8(1). The issue was pertaining to disclosure of information pertaining to examination conducted by the appellants of Chartered Accountants The Apex Court held that Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act did not bar or prohibit the disclosure of question papers, model answers (solutions to questions) and instructions if any given to the examiners and moderators after the examination and after the evaluation of answers scripts was completed, as at that stage they would not harm the competitive positions of any third party.

It was further held that the furnishing of information by an examining body, in response to a query under the RTI Act might not be termed as an infringement of copy right.

It was also held that the object of RTI Act was to harmonize the conflicting public interests, ie, ensuring transparency to bring in accountability and containing corruption on the one hand, and at the same time to ensure that the revelation of information, in actual practice did not harm or adversely affect other public interests which included efficient functioning of the Government, optimum use of limited physical resources and preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information, on other hand.

The Court observed that the purpose of RTI Act was to attain a fine balance between its goal of attaining transparency of information and safeguarding of the public interest


For example instructions given to the bank by an account holder to stop payment of cheque already issued by him, involve the commercial confidence and such instructions may not be disclosed, unless some substantial public interest is served in the disclosure of such information. Similarly, names and account numbers of the account holders were not allowed to be disclosed to a third party It was held that such information enjoys protection under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act.


In Dharam Raj v. Container Corporation of India Nagpur, the CPIO refused to give the copy of the visitors’ book maintained in the corporation which may affect the competitive position of their business. The CIC upheld the decision of the CPIO and observed that the protection under Section 8 (1) (d) is available in the cases where the competitive position of business is affected by such disclosure.


In N. Swaminathan v. Railway Recruitment Board,‘ the disclosure of information was declined on the ground that it would affect the competitive position of various candidates who appeared in the examination. The information pertained to the question paper and key to the answers. The Commission while accepting the appeal observed that by no stretch of imagination can it be argued that the public authority had a commercial interest in the conduct of examination, which would be affected by disclosure of old question papers with the answer key.

Therefore, it is essential to analyse and examine the entire context and background of the information sought while applying the exemption provision as provided under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.

(e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;


This provision provides a general exemption to all such information which is given in fiduciary relations. This has been based on the specific nature of relationship. It is relation which is based on mutual trust and confidence. Hence information exchanged under such relationship assumes a specific nature. It has elements of secrecy and confidentiality attached to it.

Moreover, such information is not public information and normally public interest is not attached to it. In addition to it, it has certain amount of privacy also which cannot be encroached upon in routine. Article 21 of the Constitution also comes into play to protect the privacy of the individual. Thus the information imparted in fiduciary relationship cannot be disclosed normally.

(f) information received in confidence from foreign government;


The information exempted under this provision has both confidentiality as well as the public interest attached to it. As a matter of international relations the confidential information is frequently exchanged between and among the different countries. It may relate to variety of subjects which have to be dealt with confidentially. Therefore, if such information is disclosed, it would result in the breach of such trust and confidentiality among the concerned countries.

It is also possible that the disclosure of such information may harm the interest of such countries Again, it may not be in the public interest for our country also to disclose it, which may harm the national interest. Therefore, such information has been exempted from the purview of the Act.

(g) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;


This provision gives protection from disclosure of the specific information. used by the law enforcing and security agencies. To conduct the security operations successfully, these agencies have to exchange within their area of operation highly confidential and secret information. In addition to it, they have also to create their own sources of information including the private persons and agencies. They receive information through their channel of operation and use it for public safety and security.

For example the anti-terrorist operation in disturbed area could be based on such information. If such information or the source of such information is disclosed, the entire operational system would collapse. The life of the persons imparting such secret information could be in danger and once the information is disclosed about the security operations, it is almost impossible or useless to conduct such operations. Therefore, keeping in view the sensitivity of such information, it has been exempted from the purview of the Act.

(h) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;


It exempts the criminal procedure to some extent from the purview of this Act. The investigation and prosecution of offences is a typical work being conducted. It has an element of confidentiality involved in it. For an appropriate investigation of a crime the information has to be gathered and exchanged from various quarters and the same has to be assimilated and analyzed from time to time.

On the basis of some very confidential inputs sometimes arrests are made and raids are conducted. Similarly, during the prosecution also there may be certain confidential information which could only be divulged to the court alone and not to the public at large. Premature disclosure of such information may spoil the entire prosecution. Therefore, the information of this nature has been exempted from the purview of this Act

However, it would be pertinent to submit here that the information exempted under clauses (g) and (h) here is more or less related to security and intelligence organizations as exempted under Section 24 of the Act. These organizations as mentioned in the Second Schedule of the Act or as notified by the State Government under Section 24 (4) have not been granted absolute exemption. In case of information pertaining to corruption or violation of human rights, the information regarding such organizations can be obtained subject to the provisions of Section 24 of the Act.

Therefore, on similar lines the information regarding the subjects mentioned under clauses (g) and (h) in Section 8(1) may also be allowed if it pertains to corruption and violation of human rights. No matter if the information regarding the violation of human rights is allowed after the approval of the concerned Information Commission.

Though no such specific provision is available under Section 8 (1) (g) and (h) on the lines of Section 24 of the Act, but Section 8 (2) may be relied upon for this purpose. The disclosure of information regarding corruption and violation of human rights may contain more element of public interest than not to disclose the same. However the same requires a cautious and careful handling preferably at the level of the 1st Appellant authority or the concerned Information Commission. Therefore, it requires attention at the senior level.

There was some CBI investigation going on in the misappropriation of money in the post office. The Commission upheld the decision of the CPIO to decline such information under Section 8(1)(h) on the ground that it would impede the process of investigation.!

The CIC in Narender Bansal v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. held that investigation in the matter qua Section 8 (i) (h) of the Act is not complete till the matter is finally settled.

In S.K. Tiwari v. West Central Railway, Jabalpur,‘ while examining the provisions of Section 8(1)(h) of the Act, the CIC held that it was not enough to mention the provisions of this sub-section for exemption under it. The PIO has to record reasons in writing as to how the disclosure of the information would impede the process of investigation. It is because of the fact that access to information under Section 3 of the Act, the rule and the exemption under Section 8, the exception.

Section 8 being a restriction on this right has to be construed strictly. Therefore, the CIC observed that such reasons of refusal should be germane and the opinion of the process being hampered should be reasonable and based on some material. Without such reasonable explanation the possibility of misuse and misapplication of the provisions of Section 8(1) cannot be ruled out. Similar view were taken by the CIC in Mahendra Singh v. Western Railway.

(i) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers

Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;


It pertains to discussion and deliberations of the Council of Ministers on various issues of public interest. The functioning of Council of Ministers in our Parliamentary democracy is based on the principles of collective responsibility Every decision taken in the Council of Ministers is a collective decision notwithstanding the individual views and opinions regarding such decisions.

Therefore, the details of inner discussions on the issues placed before the Council of Ministers are not to be disclosed. The ministers and the officials of the Government bona fidely exchange opinion on these issues under the protection against such disclosure and therefore such disclosure is not in public interest.

But the disclosure of decisions and reasons thereof is not exempted when the decision is taken and the matter is complete and over After the decisions are taken and the finality regarding such decisions is attained, the reasons for such decisions and the background against which the decisions are taken and the material on which the decisions are taken may be made public. But at this stage also the internal discussions within the members shall not be disclosed. Apart from the principles of collective responsibility as already explained, the premature leakage of Cabinet proceedings may have wide ramifications and repercussions.

The policy decisions taken by the Government have political, economical and financial consequences which may adversely affect the national interest, if leaked beforehand. Therefore, the pre-mature decisions and discussions within the Council of Ministers are not disclosed and the same are exempted from the application of provisions of the Act.

However, even after the decision is final and over, the matters pertaining to other exemptions provided under this section would not be disclosed. There may be a Cabinet decision in which some matter otherwise covered under exemptions provided in this section is involved. In such a situation, even if the decision is final, any information falling under such exemption shall not be disclosed. Thus the second proviso to this clause provides an exception to the general principle laid down by the first proviso.

In Venkatesh Nayak v. DOPT,’ the commission while explaining the provisions of Section 8(1)(1) held that the provisions of this Act would apply only when a note was submitted by the Ministry that had formulated it to the Cabinet Secretariat for placing this before the Cabinet. All concomitant information preceding that, which did not constitute a part of that Cabinet Note will then be open to disclosure under Section 4(1)(c), but in a manner as would not violate the provisions of Section 8(1)(i). Thus, a clear demarcation was indicated between the actual formation of the Cabinet note and the preceding proceedings, the former was exempted under Section 8(1)(i) and the latter was not

(J) 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.


It speaks of the information which is purely of personal nature and which has nothing to do with public interest. It may relate to an individual. This information may have strictly personal contents which may result in invasion to individual’s privacy, if disclosed. Broadly speaking it may be confidential report of an official, Income Tax returns of an individual, Bank Account. Property statement etc. This is an attempt to keep the private life separate from public life. If the information pertaining to a private individual has no connection with the public interest, it cannot be disclosed under the Act in normal course

However, if the concerned SPIO or the appellate authority is satisfied that greater public interest would be served in the disclosure of the information and it is desirable to do so, such information may be disclosed. But such decisions are not taken in routine by the concerned authorities.

The spirit of the Act would require that the decision regarding such disclosure is in the form of a well reasoned speaking order. The interest of the individual would have to be balanced against the public interest. The comparative balance sheet is desirable to be drawn in such cases. The final order should reflect simultaneously the facade of two interests, one giving way to another.

This protection of information from individual under this clause is protected to the extent it is denied to the Parliament or State Legislature. Any information which cannot be refused to these legislative bodies cannot be refused to any person also. The individual has been placed in equal position to the Parliament and the State Legislature in this regard. This is in tune with the democratic spirit. The Parliament and the State Legislature represent the individual and therefore the information which cannot be denied to these bodies cannot be denied to individuals also. However, public interest has to be balanced against individual interest and vice versa

When an information is held by a person holding a public office in official capacity, it cannot be called a personal information. The personal information attached to a person in purely personal capacity could be considered a personal information. But when a person holds an official information even limited to the personal accessibility, the same cannot be called strictly personal.

The CIC (FB) considered this issue in Subhash Chander Agarwal v. Supreme Court of India. The appellant had asked for the information pertaining to the assets of the judges and their family members While declining the plea that such information was available with the Chief Justice and not with the Supreme Court, the CIC observed that the Supreme Court of India consisting of the Chief Justice of India and such number of judges as Parliament may by law prescribed, was an institution or authority of which the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India was the Head.

The institution and its Head cannot be two distinct Public Authorities. They are one and the same. Information therefore, available with the Chief Justice of India must be available with the Supreme Court of India The CIC also simultaneously observed that each of the sections or department of a Public Authority cannot be treated as a separate or distinct Public Authority


Section 8 (1) of the Act inter alia exempts the information (a) which has no relationship to any public activity or interest. (b) which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual to whom such information belonged This sub-section protects purely private information and tries to protect the individual against the unwarranted invasion in his private life unless some public interest is attached to the disclosure of such information.

This reflects the premise that individual privacy is not a purely personal affair but it is attached to a social contract. The individual privacy is subject to public interest, In our daily life we come across many things which are restricted to one’s private life but still such things cannot be isolated from the public domain completely.

The dividing line between the two is very thin and resilient The CIC (FB) has considered this issue in detail in G.R. Rawal v. D.G. Income Tax (hrvestigation)The Commission quoted certain examples of personal information like information pertaining to one’s address, occupation, physical and mental status including medical status, one’s hobbies and one’s financial status etc A lot of information could be exempted under these heads if the information is purely of private nature But sometimes this private information enters in public domain silently and sometimes stealthly For example, the financial status of a person may be his private affair, but if there is a doubt regarding the integrity of a person holding a public office, the same may not be exempted as purely private information.

Therefore, whenever there is some public interest attached even to a punily private affair, it is very important for the competent authority to consider it for the applicability of the KT A However, there should be good and sufficient reasons for the disclosure of such private information under the RTI Act


This is a very important issue drawing attention of the Commission too frequently. The CIC in Gopal Kumar v. Major General Gautam Dutt,‘ held that ACRs were protected from disclosure because arguably such disclosure seriously harms interpersonal relation in a given organization. Further, the ACR noting represented an interpersonal relationship in a given organization The ACR notings represented an interaction based on trust and confidence between officers involved in the process. It was also observed that a certain amount of confidentiality insulated these actions from competing pressures and thereby promoted objectivity

Similar view was taken by the CIC in Anil Kumar v. Department of Telecommunications and H.K. Bansal v. Ministry of Communications. This issue was again considered in J.D. Sahay v. Ministry of Finance but there was no change in the earlier view.

Copy of the Answer/Question Sheets

The CIC ordered to provide the photocopies of the answer sheets of 15 other candidates to the appellant. Even copies of Question Sheets, Answer Sheets and Answer Keys of the Question Sheet were allowed by the CIC.

In Anil Rana v. S.S.S. Board Delhi, allowed the copy of the answer sheet of the applicant and the marks obtained by the applicant but the photocopies of the answer sheets of other candidates was declined being a third party information.

Copy of the Medical-Certificate

During a dispute between the wife and her husband, the latter asked for the record of the wife pertaining to her casual leave and leave without pay. The CIC while upholding the decision of the CPIO held that in the prevailing situation the disclosure would be an unwarranted invasion of privacy of individual and therefore, it enjoyed the protection of exemption under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

The copy of the enquiry report against a public servant cannot be considered strictly personal information invading the privacy of such public servant. It is because of the fact that the duties of the public servant may not be called personal but are always of public nature and therefore, the enquiry reports prepared against such public servants always has a public interest attached to it. However, if some personal information is incorporated in such enquiry reports, the same can be served under the provisions of Section 10 of Act

DPC Minutes

The process of selection, recruitment and promotion of staff is largely in the public interest and with a view to ensure fairness and objectivity in this process, the relevant documents like DPC minutes have to be put in public domain. Therefore, such information cannot be denied under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act.

Information pertaining to Institutions, Organizations, Societies and Corporate , Similarly, in Masood Hussain v. RCS, New Delhi, it was held by the CIC that there is no privacy attached to the working of the institutions, organizations. societies and corporate and therefore the information pertaining to them cannot be classified as ‘personal’ Therefore, the provisions of Section 8(1)(j) cannot be applied while imparting the details pertaining to the members of a cooperative society


 In Radhey Shyam Gupta v. Government of NCT Delhi, the CIC examined the issue pertaining to the disclosure of information pertaining to the medical report of an employee submitted at the time of joining a Government job. The CIC held that this issue pertained to the public appointment and therefore, some public interest was attached to it. Hence the Commission allowed the disclosure of such information disagreeing with the earlier decision of the CIC in Bhagwan Chand Saxena v. CPIO Safderjung Hospital However, the Commission accepted that the State had no right to invade the privacy of the individual till some public interest was attached to it.

(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.


This is a general provision striking a balance between the public interest and the protected interest. Notwithstanding any specific exemption provided under sub-section (1) and the similar provisions under ‘The Official Secrets Act 1923’, this sub-section empowers the public authority to disclose any information where public interest in such disclosure outweighs the harm to be caused to the protected interest.

At the first glance it seems to be undoing everything that has been provided under sub-section (1). Although some of the exemptions provided under sub section (1) are already subject to such public interest, but there are other exemption in clauses (a) (b) (c) (f) (g) (h) (i) of sub-section (1) which are unconditional in their contents Second proviso to clause (1) specifically reiterates that the matter covered under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed. Thus when read against this background, sub-section (2) of Section 8 appears to be struggling between the contraries.

(3) Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c) and (i) of sub-section (1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which any request is made under Section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section:

Provided that where any question arises as to the date from which the said period of twenty years has to be computed, the decision of the Central Government shall be final, subject to the usual appeals provided for in this Act.


This sub-section provides another exception to the provisions of sub-section (1) except as provided under clauses (a) (c) and (1) Apart from information as provided under clauses (a) (c) and (1) any information mentioned in sub-section (1) which is more than twenty year old before the date of filing the application under Section 6 of the Act would be provided to any person making a request under the provisions of this Act. It means the exemptions provided under sub section (1) except those mentioned above, would cease to have effect after the expiry of 20 years. If there is any dispute regarding the calculation of the said period, the decision of the Central Government shall be final.

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