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RTI: Getting personal information is allowed




In a recent court order, the Madras High Court has interpreted the usage of RTI to allow obtaining personal information of current Government officials or pensioners for some specific reasons. It is a public perception about RTI that the usage of RTI is only meant for obtaining information, either about the process of movement of information in the Government, or about actions taken by units of the Government. So, RTI has typically been used to obtain details about spendings (with recent high profile cases being about trying to determine the expenses of ministers on re-doing their offices or official houses, or even of the cost of holding a Cabinet meeting, as was done in Karnataka).
This case is a more difficult case that was refused by the RTI Commission against an application, where there was a court order against a former employee of the Government, but the court order could not be executed since the person could not be found. At the same time, there was another arm of the Government that was actually aware of the address, since the person was receiving pension from the Government, and the pension was being paid out of a post office. So, if you were to take the right perspective, the court order execution should have been possible by getting the address from the post office; but it is impossible to believe that the Government would be so proactive. So, it is the interested person who had to use the RTI form for the required purpose (link to article):

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.”




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