Petitioner had submitted an application on 27-8-2008 before the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (Ministry of Labour, Government of India) calling for various details relating to third respondent, who was employed as an Enforcement Officer in Sub-Regional Office, Akola.
As many as 15 queries were made by the petitioner regarding the third respondent to the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Nagpur.
The petitioner had sought for copies of all memos, show cause notices and censure/punishment awarded to the third respondent from his employer and also details viz. movable and immovable properties and also the details of his investments, lending and borrowing from Banks and other financial institutions. Further, he has also sought for the details of gifts stated to have accepted by the third respondent, his family members and friends and relatives at the marriage of his son. The information mostly sought for finds a place in the income tax returns of the third respondent.
The question that came up for consideration before the Supreme Court is whether the above-mentioned information sought for qualifies to be "personal information" as defined in clause (j) of section 8(1) of the RTI Act.
The details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of section 8(1) of the RTI Act.
The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression "personal information", the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.
The details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are "personal information" which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.
The petitioner in the instant case has not made a bona fide public interest in seeking information, the disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. Besides, petitioner has not succeeded in establishing that the information sought for is for the larger public interest.
In the result, Special Leave Petition filed by petitioner dismissed. -  25 taxmann.com 525 (SC)