DISCLOSURE OF THIRD PARTY INFORMATION UNDER RTI
Government of India
Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions
Department of Personnel & Training ***
North Block, New Delhi-110001
Dated: the 27″‘April, 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 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 information 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.