Personal info can be sought under RTI, says HC

CHENNAI: Can personal information such as an address of an employee or a pensioner be demanded under the provisions of the Right To Information(RTI) Act? Yes, says the Madras high court.

Justice K Chandru, pointing out that the writ petitioner M Kaliaperumal of Chennai wanted the personal details only to execute a court decree, said: "A pensioner does not cease to become totally out of control from the government. On the contrary, his conduct and character are continuously monitored by the central government. In that context, the whereabouts of such pensioner is also very much relevant and it cannot be a private information. The authorities are bound to help in the execution of court orders."

Kaliaperumal approached the postal department authorities at Gudur in Andhra Pradesh, seeking information about a man named K Ramachandra Rao, against whom a court order had been passed in a forgery case. Unable to find him at his residence, Kaliaperumal filed an RTI application demanding to know the postal address of Rao as the latter had been receiving his pension from the Gudur post office. However, the RTI plea was rejected on the ground that this was a personal information and had no public interest. His appeal too met with the similar fate.

Pointing out that the address was sought only to execute a court order, Justice Chandru said Kaliaperumal was not able to take further civil and criminal action against Rao as the latter's address was not known. Directing the authorities to furnish the correct address of Rao within 30 days, the judge said the plea did have a public interest as the pensioner's exact whereabouts would clear doubts as to whether such a pensioner really existed on the date of receipt of his pension or whether a fraudulent claim had been made on his behalf. "Such information cannot be denied," he said.

Source : Times of India - Chennai 21.11.2009