BEFORE THE FIRST APPELLATE AUTHORITY, RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005, ROHINI DISTRIT COURTS, DELHI RTI Appeal No. : 13 of 2011 Ms. Kalpana Vs. PIO, Rohini District Courts, Delhi O R D E R
Present : None for the appellant. None on behalf of the PIO.
1. By this order I shall dispose of this appeal against the rejection by PIO of the second original application of the present appellant received by the PIO on 12.10.2011 asking for salary slip of the month of September 2011 of the third party working as ADJ at Rohini Courts, Delhi, vide information dated 31.10.2011.
2. Before rejecting the said application and the said supply of salary slip of the Ld. ADJ, the PIO, u/s 11 of the RTI Act, called for the objection and representation of the concerned third party who submitted his representation dated 31.10.2011.
3. The further facts are that the said appellant filed the first i.e. the initial application, received on 19.07.2011 asking for the said salary slip on which the objections of the said third party were initially sought by the PIO which was submitted by the third party vide his representation dated 21.07.2011 and the said application was also rejected on 23.07.2011 1 by the PIO.
4. It is in this background that the said second application was moved by the appellant and she attached the salary certificates of the said third party which were supplied to her under the RTI Act itself by another PIO of Central District, Tis Hazari Courts.
5. The grounds of the rejection of the said two applications are the same, as mentioned by the PIO, that as per objection of the third party, who was not willing to disclose the said information being personal information of an individual falling under the provisions of Section 11 and 8(1)(j) of RTI Act, 2005.
6. In the first representation, said third party i.e the ADJ of Rohini Courts, mentioned that the information sought by the applicant had no relationship to any public activity or interest and the information, as sought, would be an invasion of the privacy of the individual and that income of an individual working as government official is his entirely private affair, earned by him because of his ability and efforts and nobody can be allowed to invade the privacy of a person and that furnishing of such information does not justify any larger public interest for disclosure of such information. It was further objected that as per proviso to Section 11 of RTI Act, 2005, the disclosure of such information does not serve any public purpose but it may cause injury to his privacy, liberty and breach of confidentiality of personal affairs as nobody could be allowed to peep into his personal life including his income except by court of law and that too in the matters where he would be in litigation in his personal 2 capacity. It is further objected that even laws of Income Tax also allow the confidentiality of income of an individual and anyone cannot be allowed to access therein whosoever he may be.
7. In the second representation by the said third party i.e. the ADJ, again besides the above said objections, when he came to know for the first time that earlier his salary slips were supplied he has written that he was stunned to know that earlier his pay slips were supplied to the applicant without his knowledge or without asking for his submissions in this regard and that this fact he came to know for the first time and he is unable to understand, under what circumstances such information, which was clear and unwarranted invasion of his personal privacy and has no relationship to any official activity, was supplied to the applicant and that despite his efforts, he could not get the salary slip even of his peon or orderly but his salary slips were supplied to the applicant ignoring the right of his personal privacy.
8. This appeal against the said rejection of the second application u/s 6 of the RTI Act dated 31.10.2011, has been filed on the following grounds:
(1) There is also a rider in Section 8(1)(j) which says that all information the communication of which to the Parliament and Legislature cannot be denied, shall be supplied by the PIO to the applicant for information. In other words, what all the Parliament or Legislatures are entitled to know, the citizen is equally entitled to be informed.
3 (2) The salary expenses are charged to the Public Account. Disclosure of the information cannot be denied on the grounds of this being personal information and not a public activity and serves no public interest etc salaries paid in discharge of official duties and the records related to the same are public records and therefore, a citizen has the right to seek disclosure of the same.
(3) Earlier, the same information was provided by the PIO, District Courts, Tis Hazari, Delhi, vide his letter No.34407/Admn.I/RTI/2010/3037 dated 11.05.2010.
(4) As the person for whom, the information is sought is presently working in the Rohini Courts and influencing the officials of the concerned department.
(5) Because the PIO is intentionally and with malafide intention not providing the information sought by the appellant.
9. Taking the grounds No.4 and 5 first of all, because the same go to the root of the matter whereby the allegation of influencing the officials and intentional and malafide intention of the PIO have been alleged and this allegation of "influencing" indirectly is an aspersion and casts a stigma on this First Appellate Authority also and what is known in literature by way of innuendo also i.e. a thing which cannot be said directly is said indirectly. After all the third party i.e. the ADJ of Rohini Courts, is my colleague judge or I have no hesitation in saying that I may have good relations with him or I might have shared joys and sorrows of the life with him and thus, I may not be impartial in deciding this appeal. 4 I am also conscious of the other legal consequences of the said allegations.
10. In the given situation, I am reminding myself of two principles of natural justice which are (i) nobody should be condemned unheard (Audi Alteram Partem) i.e. right of hearing to a person before deciding a case against him and (ii) nobody should be a judge in his own cause i.e. a judgment or a decision should be free from all bias. Section 11 of the RTI Act is based upon the first principle that if any information is sought with regard to a third party, he must be heard but the second principle of natural justice to a great extent has been dispensed with under the said RTI Act because as per various provisions of the said Act the appointments of Public Information Officers as well as First Appellate Authority is the duty of the respective departments and the said posts are to be filled from among the officials of the same department. If this is so, then a "departmental bias", if not "individual bias", is bound to peep inside, at least, to facilitate the applicants to allege "influencing" and "malafide intention" against the officials, PIOs and First Appellate Authorities which belong to the same department, as has been done by the present appellant in her appeal.
11. The said infirmity of "departmental bias" is from the point of view of the said second principle of natural justice but it has been so commanded within the statute i.e. The RTI Act. The famous dictum of law, "justice should not only be done, it must seem to have been done" in the said circumstances cannot be strictly followed due to the given provisions of the RTI Act. It is at the second appellate stage that an 5 independent agency/institution, such as, Central Information Commissions and State Information Commissions have been established to meet the said second principle of natural justice.
12. The question arises as to does this mean that rule of law must not prevail? With great regards to thousands and thousands of institutions, organizations or individuals, both governmental and non governmental, working hard in India in discharging their duties without any expectation of any reward, appreciation or certification from anyone and working silently without desiring name and fame, I may opine that nature of the working of judiciary is still different from the other departments of the government or other organizations. Hon'ble Supreme Court and Hon'ble High Courts have time and again designed certain doctrines such as, doctrines of self restraint, non involvement and to maintain the dignity and integrity of the judiciary as an institution. A judge is not supposed to mix up easily and create social relations as any other citizen or individual of India is free to do. A judge in India has got a very limited scope of social relations and even if an invitation card inviting him to a public function is given to him, he thinks hundred times before deciding whether to attend the said function or not. Generally his family and families of other judicial officers are his boundary walls of relations. Although there is no specific bar or the said conduct provided under the law, but all is covered in the doctrine of self restraint. A judge comes into contact with public only when he is sitting in his court on dais and hearing the cases in the discharge of his duty and in this manner even 6 the present appellant, who in her said first application claimed to be the wife of the said third party i.e. the ADJ, she belonged to the judicial family circle being the wife of a judge and in this sense, she is also related to me, but she has cleverly avoided to talk about the said bias which may come to my mind while deciding her appeal.
13. There is no provision in the RTI Act to transfer this appeal to any other First Appellate Authority to show at least that justice seem to have been done and in order to avoid any bias in my mind but even assuming, for the sake of argument, that such provision exists, this first appeal can always be transferred to another authority who is again a judge and definitely a colleague of the present third party and still the allegation of "departmental bias" may prevail.
14. I have the grounds of praising the judiciary as an institution, as is mentioned by me above. The highest, greatest and probably the only example, I may claim so, throughout the world is the Hon'ble Indian Supreme Court who in a recent case itself became a petitioner before a subordinate court (as per provisions of Constitution of India in the judicial pyramid) i.e. the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in a matter arising out of the RTI Act itself titled Secretary General, Supreme Court of India Vs. Subhash Chandra Aggarwal reported as AIR 2010 Delhi 159, popularly known as "Judges' Assets Case" and this act of the Hon'ble Supreme Court is praiseworthy for which, I being a small fry in the pan, have no words to express my gratitude because neither under the Constitution of India nor under any law for the time being in force, 7 nothing has stopped the Hon'ble Supreme Court to have heard the said matter by itself but in order to avoid any probable or potential allegation of "bias", the Hon'ble Supreme Court preferred to be an appellant before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi.
15. Above all, the decision of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in the said Judges' Assets Case (supra), is to be appreciated which dismissed the appeal of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and thereby not only hit hard against the murmuring and rumors of "departmental bias" against the judiciary but buried the same for all times to come. I have the said legacy of maintaining the highest esteem for democracy, equality before law and protecting the fundamental rights of the persons, as has been shown to us as a path to be followed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in the said case.
16. Following the said conduct and principles of law, as given to us by the said Hon'ble Superior Courts, integrity of a judge does not require any certification from any person nor it is caring for any such type of allegations as has been levelled against the subordinate staff and the PIO by the present appellant. The basic function of a judge is to decide and impart justice irrespective of the fact that who are the parties before him, rightly or wrongly. If he shirks of his said work of deciding or adjudicating the disputes or issues before him, he is no more a judge and as such, I hereby reject the said grounds at point No.4 and 5, being mere bald allegations and not substantiated by any evidence on the record to that effect. Moreover, had it been so, the other PIO of Tis Hazari Courts 8 would not have dared the salary slip of the judge to be supplied to the present appellant as has been alleged and admitted by the present appellant herself and admittedly the said third party i.e. the ADJ at that time was posted at the said Tis Hazari Courts. From this angle also, allegations of "influencing" and "malafide intention" of the subordinate staff fall on the ground.
17. Coming to the ground No.3 of the appeal that earlier the information was provided by the PIO of District Courts Tis Hazari, Delhi and now it has been withheld from her. It is aptly said "To commit a mistake is no mistake but repeating the same mistake is the real mistake which cannot be and must not be forgiven" and it is the dictum of the law that ignorance of fact may be excusable but ignorance of law is not excusable. In this regard, I had exercised my power under Rule 13(5) of the Delhi District Courts (Right to Information) Rules, 2008 and issued a show cause notice to the concerned Accounts Officer who has filed his written reply on the record and as per his reply, though he has maintained that salary slip of an official has no relationship with any public activity or interest and may amount of unwarranted invasion on his privacy, still he is ready and willing to provide the said salary slip to the appellant. He, on inquiry, further admitted categorically that at the time when the salary slip was issued to the present appellant by the PIO of Tis Hazari Courts, the objection and representation of the third party i.e. the concerned ADJ, was not obtained in compliance of Section 11 of the RTI Act.
18. Almost all the Hon'ble High Courts of India, who dealt with the said provision of Section 11 of the RTI Act, have concurrently held that the hearing of third party is mandatory and the latest view is of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in the case titled Arvind Kejriwal Vs. Central Public Information Officer reported as AIR 2010 Delhi 216 wherein it was held that mandatory procedure outlined u/s 11(1) cannot be dispensed with and any information supplied without following the procedure is ipso facto illegal. Same was again the view of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi while comparing Section 11 and Section 24 of the RTI Act in case titled Centre for Development of Advanced Computing Vs. Brig. (Retd.) Ujjal Das Gupta and another reported as AIR 2010 Delhi 132 and again the provision of Section 11 was held mandatory.
19. I am conscious of the fact that I am not sitting in appeal over the said decision of the PIO at Tis Hazari Courts but at the same time the said decision of the said PIO was not binding on the PIO of this Rohini Courts nor the same is binding upon me. Even if two parties agree to overpass the law, the same cannot be allowed under the law itself otherwise floodgates would open for all sorts of illegalities to be committed by the illegal agreement of the two officials or two parties. Even the consent of a party given voluntarily to agree to do an act, if illegal under the law, cannot be acted upon. Judging in the light of the said law laid down by the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, the present appellant cannot take the benefit of the said situation of getting the 10 salary slip of the third party i.e. the ADJ, under the mistake of law and hence, the said contention raised at ground No.3 is hereby rejected.
20. Coming to the ground No.2 of the appeal, that salary expenses are charged to the public account and disclosure of the information cannot be denied being personal information and not a public activity and serves no public interest as the same are public records and the citizen has a right to seek the disclosure of the same. The answer to this contention raised in ground No.2 has been provided by the said celebrated judgment of the Hon'ble Full Bench of the Delhi High Court in the case titled Secretary General, Supreme Court of India Vs. Subhash Chandra Aggarwal (supra) wherein, in various paras, it was held as follows:
" 111. The freedom of information principle holds that, generally speaking, every citizen should have the right to obtain access to Government records. The underlying rationale most frequently offered in support of the principle are, first, that the right of access will heighten the accountability of Government and its agencies to the electorate; second, that it will enable interested citizens to contribute more effectively to debate on important questions of public policy; and third, that it will conduce to fairness in administrative decisionmaking processes affecting individuals. The protection of privacy principle, on the other hand, holds in part at least that individuals should, generally speaking, have some control over the use made by others, 11 especially Government agencies, of information concerning themselves. Thus, one of the cardinal principles of privacy protection is that personal information acquired for one purpose should not be used for another purpose without the consent of the individual to whom the information pertains. The philosophy underlying the privacy protection concern links personal autonomy to the control of data concerning oneself and suggests that the modern acceleration of personal data collection, especially by Government agencies, carries with it a potential threat to a valued and fundamental aspect of our traditional freedoms.
112. The right to information often collides with the right to privacy. The Government stores a lot of information about individuals in its dossiers supplied by individuals in applications made for obtaining various licences, permissions including passports, or through disclosures such as income tax returns or for census data. When an applicant seeks access to Government records containing personal information concerning identifiable individuals, it is obvious that these two rights are capable of generating conflict. In some cases this will involve disclosure of information pertaining to public officials. In others, it will involve disclosure of information concerning ordinary citizens. In 12 each instance, the subject of the information can plausibly raise a privacy protection concern. As one American writer said "one man's freedom of information is another man's invasion of privacy".
PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION UNDER SECTION 8(1)(j)
113. The right to information, being integral part of the right to freedom of speech, is subject to restrictions that can be imposed upon that right under Article 19(2). The revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Government, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and, therefore, with a view to harmonize these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountacy of the democratic ideal, Section 8 has been enacted for providing certain exemptions from disclosure of information. Section 8 contains a well defined list of ten kinds of matters that cannot be made public. A perusal of the aforesaid provisions of Section 8 reveals that there are certain information contained in subclause
(a), (b), (c), (f), (g) and (h), for which there is no obligation for giving such an information to any citizen; whereas information protected under subclause (d), (e) and (j) are protected 13 information, but on the discretion and satisfaction of the competent authority that it would be in larger public interest to disclose such information, such information can be disclosed. These information, thus, have limited protection, the disclosure of which is dependent upon the satisfaction of the competent authority that it would be in larger public interest as against the protected interest to disclose such information.
114. There is an inherent tension between the objective of freedom of information and the objective of protecting personal privacy. These objectives will often conflict when an applicant seeks access for personal information about a third party. The conflict poses two related challenges for law makers; first, to determine where the balance should be struck between these aims; and, secondly, to determine the mechanisms for dealing with requests for such information. The conflict between the right to personal privacy and the public interest in the disclosure of personal information was recognized by the legislature by exempting purely personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. Section 8(1)(j) says that disclosure may be refused if the request pertains 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." Thus, personal 14 information including tax returns, medical records etc. cannot be disclosed in view of Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. If, however, the applicant can show sufficient public interest in disclosure, the bar (preventing disclosure) is lifted and after duly notifying the third party (i.e. the individual concerned with the information or whose records are sought) and after considering his views, the authority can disclose it. The nature of restriction on the right of privacy, however, as pointed out by the learned single Judge, is of a different order; in the case of private individuals, the degree of protection afforded to be greater; in the case of public servants, the degree of protection can be lower, depending on what is at stake. This is so because a public servant is expected to act for the public good in the discharge of his duties and is accountable for them. (Emphasis supplied)
115. The Act makes no distinction between an ordinary individual and a public servant or public official. As pointed out by the learned single Judge " an individual's or citizen's fundamental rights, which include right to privacy are not subsumed or extinguished if he accepts or holds public office." Section 8(1)(j) ensures that all information furnished to public authorities including personal information [such as asset disclosures] are not given blanket access. When a member of the public requests 15 personal information about a public servant, such as asset declarations made by him a distinction must be made between personal data inherent to the person and those that are not, and, therefore, affect his/her private life. To quote the words of the learned single Judge "if public servants are obliged to furnish asset declarations, the mere fact that they have to furnish such declaration would not mean that it is part of public activity, or "interest". That the public servant has to make disclosures is a part of the system's endeavour to appraise itself of potential asset acquisitions which may have to be explained properly. However, such acquisitions can be made legitimately; no law bars public servants from acquiring properties or investing their income. The obligation to disclose these investments and assets is to check the propensity to abuse a public office, for a private gain." Such personal information regarding asset disclosures need not be made public, unless public interest considerations dictates it, under Section 8(1)(j). This safeguard is made in public interest in favour of all public officials and public servants."
21. From the said law laid down by the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, it is well established that a document may be a public document but it may not be disclosed under the RTI Act being protected from disclosure u/s 8 of the Act.
22. The matter can be looked into from another angle that if the same salary slip is required by a spouse or a child for claiming the maintenance from the other spouse or father or mother, all the laws of maintenance such as, u/s 125 of the Cr.P.C, Section 24 & 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, require that onus is on the person to prove his income from whom the maintenance is claimed and the person claiming the maintenance is not obliged to prove the income of the said person and thus, from this point of view also, the disclosure of the salary slip of the third party is neither in the larger public interest nor connected to any public activity or interest and the individual interest cannot be sacrificed in the said situation.
23. It is pertinent to mention here that "the larger public interest", as mentioned in Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and the expression "if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interest of such third party" as used in the proviso to sub clause (1) of Section 11 of the Act, are talking in terms of a proportionate term and "outweighing" and the "larger" are not absolute terms. It will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case wherein it is to be decided if the disclosure of any information, which is barred u/s 8(1)(j) or the public interest outweighs the individual interest, is to be disclosed or not. As such, the same document or information may be for the larger public interest though at the same time its disclosure may be intruding upon the privacy of a person. For example, taking the present case, disclosure of salary slip of a government official for a particular purpose 17 or litigation by one party may not be a larger public interest but if a government official files a writ petition before the Hon'ble High Court or Hon'ble Supreme Court, for the protection of his fundamental right of equality, as enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, claiming therein that though he is similarly situated but he has been discriminated against with the similarly situated officials and is being given a lesser salary than his other colleagues and further alleging that Constitution of India recognizes the principle of "equal pay for equal work", and in that case, the disclosure of the same salary slip becomes a larger public interest because the larger public interest is vested in the protection of one's fundamental right and any decision of the said two Hon'ble Superior Courts would amount to not only as the guidelines but having the binding nature with regard to the issue of protection of one's fundamental right.
24. In view of my said discussion, point No.2 raised in the appeal is also meritless as the salary slip of the said third party is neither related to any public activity nor serves a larger public interest nor disclosure of the same outweighs the individual interest and tilt the balance of the scale in favour of the public interest.
25. Coming to the ground No.1 raised in the appeal with regard to proviso to Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act which has been argued vehemently before me by the father of the appellant claiming that since the salary slip of the said third party cannot be withheld from the Parliament, it must be supplied to the present appellant also. 18
26. Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005 reads as under: "information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has not 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."
27. If I go by the plain reading of the said proviso, I could not visualize any information or document which can be withheld from the Parliament or the State Legislatures because of the simple reason that Parliament of this country is probably the Mightiest institution. In our Constitution we have not adopted complete separation of powers between the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary because the real executive i.e. the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister sits in the same Parliament and is answerable to the Parliament and more so, the widest legislative powers have been conferred upon the Parliament on the basis of division of powers between the Union Legislatures and the State Legislatures, as provided from Article 245 to Article 248 of the Constitution of India. Although the legislative powers of the said two legislatures are governed by three lists i.e. the Union list, the State list and the Concurrent list but all the residuary powers to legislate upon the subjects have been given to 19 the Union Parliament under Article 248 of the Constitution and in case of any inconsistency or conflict between a Union Law and the State Law, as per Article 251 & 254 of the Constitution, it is the law made by the Parliament which shall prevail. If this is so, even any information required with regard to the legislative power of a State Legislature cannot be withheld from the Parliament and as such, as per the said proviso, the informations with regard to legislative powers of the State Legislatures are to be disclosed under the RTI Act. If this analogy is to be accepted, then the said proviso in itself becomes self contradictory because it may not protect the disclosure of the information required with regard to affairs of the State Legislatures for the simple reason that the said information cannot be withheld from the Parliament and as such, liable to be disclosed to the individuals also. If this interpretation is to be accepted, then there was no need for the Parliament for writing such an exhaustive Act like RTI Act and the said proviso makes at least Section 8 and Section 11 and even Section 24 as redundant. Any such interpretation of the statute, which makes the part of a statute either inapplicable or ineffective or redundant, cannot be accepted because of the presumption that the Parliament never wastes its words and every word of a particular provision of a statute must be given full effect.
28. I am fortified in my view by a recent judgment of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 803/2009 titled Vijay Prakash Vs. Union of India and others decided by Hon'ble Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat on 01.07.2009.
29. In the said judgment, the facts were almost identical to the present case as the husband and wife were at loggerheads with each other and wife was a government servant and the husband, as per his application u/s 6 of the RTI Act, requested to supply service record of his wife pertaining to all leave application forms submitted by her, attested copies of nomination of DSOP and other official documents with financial implications and the changes made to them, record of investments made and reflected in the service documents of his wife, along with nominations thereof and the information was declined by PIO u/s 8(1)(j) of the Act being personal to the wife and the first appeal was also rejected and the worthy CIC also dismissed the appeal.
30. In the said case, said Vijay Prakash, the husband, raised the contention of the proviso to Section 8(1)(j) and also relied upon the judgment of the Hon'ble Bombay High Court in case titled Surup Singh Hrya Naik Vs. State of Maharashtra reported as AIR 2007 Bombay 121 wherein the Hon'ble Bombay High Court gave the reasoning and emphasized that the proviso to Section 8(1)(j) clothes Parliament and State Legislatures with plenary powers, which in turn implied that all manner of information was capable of disclosure and could not therefore be withheld.
31. The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi disagreed with the opinion of the Hon'ble Bombay High Court and in para 22 held as follows: " .............The court is also unpersuaded by the reasoning of the Bombay High Court, which appears to have given undue, even 21 overwhelming deferences to Parliamentary privilege (termed "plenary" by that court) in seeking information, by virtue of the proviso to Section8(1)(j). Were that the true position, the enactment of Section 8(1)(j) itself is rendered meaningless, and the basic safeguard bereft of content. The proviso has to be only as confined to what it enacts, to the class of information that Parliament can ordinarily seek; if it were held that all information relating to all public servants, even private information, can be accessed by Parliament, Section 8(1)(j) would be devoid of any substance, because the provision makes no distinction between public and private information. Moreover there is no law which enables Parliament to demand all such information; it has to be necessarily in the context of some matter, or investigation. If the reasoning of the Bombay High Court were to be accepted, there would be nothing left of the right to privacy, elevated to the status of a fundamental right, by several judgments of the Supreme Court."
32. Rejecting the Writ Petition of the husband and concurring to the view of Central Information Commission in para 23, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in the said case further held as follows: "As discussed earlier, the "public interest" argument of the Petitioner is premised on the plea that his wife is a public servant; he is in litigation with her, and requires information, in the course of a private dispute - to establish the truth of his allegations. The CIC has held that there is no public interest element in the disclosure of such personal information, in the possession of the information provider, i.e. the Indian Air Force. This court concurs with the view, on an application of the principles discussed. The petitioner has, not been able to justify how such disclosure would be in "public interest" : the litigation is, pure and simple, a private one. The basic protection afforded 22 by virtue of the exemption (from disclosure) enacted under Section 8(1)(j) cannot be lifted or disturbed."
33. As this appellate authority is subordinate to the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi and within its jurisdiction, the said decision of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Vijay Prakash's case (supra) is binding upon me.
34. Thus, even the ground No.1 also fails and resultantly this appeal has no merits and same is hereby dismissed. An attested copy of this order be given dasti to the appellant and one attested copy be sent to the said third party i.e. the ADJ also and one copy be placed on the record of the PIO and thereafter the appeal file be consigned and preserved as per Rule 16 of the Delhi District Court (RTI) Rules 2008 and be consigned to the Record Room.
Dated : 09.01.2012 (RAKESH TEWARI) ASJ/First Appellate Authority Room No.312, Third Floor, District Courts, Rohini, Delhi.