The Central Information Commission (CIC) has stated that an employee of any public authority cannot call himself/herself a “third party” when an information about him/her is sought.
It has also stated that the public authority cannot deny information on government servants unless specifically exempted under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
On January 7, central information commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu passed the order while hearing a petition of one Jyoti Sherawat, who had sought the salary slip of her husband as well as details of his travel allowance, dearness allowance and HRA benefits.
She had filed the application in June 2012. The public information officer (PIO) of the home department had refused to give the details, saying her husband had denied it.
Her husband had invoked “third party” rights through which a person can inform the PIO not to provide the information.
“Under the RTI Act, the public authorities have the obligation to disclose the monthly emoluments paid to their employees. U/s 4(1)(b)(x) of the Act, ‘the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations’, should be published,” the order stated
Pulling up the officers, the CIC remarked that the PIOs and FAAs are disposing of the petitions in a routine manner like general office file.
He added that it displayed lack of understanding and training on the issues pertaining to access law and various judgments rendered on the subject among the designated officers of public authorities.
Negating the “third party” clause further, the central information commissioner said the employee of the public authority is part of that public authority and hence he is not the third party.
“There is no need to obtain the consent of the particular employee for disclosure of that information as provided under the RTI Act, unless it falls under any exception. It may be recalled that even in case of third party information, if the commission considers the public interest demands, such information can be given in spite of refusal by the third party,” the order stated.
“Every spouse has a right to information about the particulars of salary of other spouse, especially for the purpose of maintenance. More so, the wife has a right to know the salary particulars of the husband, who is an employee of the public authority,” the order stated.