April 29, 2010

Disclosure of third party information under the RTI Act, 2005.

Copy of Department of Personnel and Training Memo No NO. 8/2/2010-lR dated 27.4.2010

Subject: Disclosure of third party information under the RTI Act, 2005.

The undersigned is directed to say that the Government,'in a number of cases makes inter departmental consultations. In the process, a public authority may send some confidential papers to another public authority. A question has arisen whether the recipient public authority can disclose such confidential papers under the RTI Act, 2005. If yes, what procedure is required to be followed for doing so.

2. Section 11 of the Act provides the procedure of disclosure of 'third party' information. According to it, if a Public Information Officer (PIO) intends to disclose an information supplied by a third party which the third party has treated as confidential, the PIO, before taking a decision to disclose the information shall invite the third party to make submission in the matter. The third party has a right to make an appeal to the Departmental Appellate Authority against the decision of the PI0 and if not satisfied with the decision of the Departmental Appellate Authority, a second appeal to the concerned Information Commission. The PI0 cannot disclose such information unless the procedure prescribed in section 11 is completed.

3. As defined in clause (n) of Section 2 of the Act, 'third party' includes a public authority. Reading of the definition of the terin, 'third party' and Section I 1 together makes it clear that if a public authority 'X' receives some information from another public authority 'Y' which that public authority has treated as confidential, then 'X' cannot disclose the infonnation without consulting 'Y', the third party in respect of the information and without following the procedure prescribed in Section 11 of the Act. It is a statutory requirement, non-compliance of which may make the PI0 liable to action.

4. The Public Information Officers and the First Appellate Authorities should keep these provisions of the Act in view while taking decision, about disclosure of third party information in general and disclosure of the third party information, when third party is a public authority, in particular.

Department of Personnel and Training Memo dated 27.4.2010

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