CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
(Room No.315, B-Wing, August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi 110 066)
Phone: 011- 26181927 | Fax: 011- 26185088
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu (Madabhushi Sridhar)
Central Information Commissioner
Mohit Kumar Bansal vs. PIO, EPFO, Bangalore
RTI : 27.07.2016
FAO : 22.10.2016
Second Appeal : 10.01.2017
Hearing : 25.04.2017
Appellant : Present with Adv. Rajesh Ranjan Singh
Public authority : Present
Decided on : 25.04.2017
1. The appellant has filed RTI application seeking information regarding PF details of his wife Ms. Pooja Bansal who has filed a petition for maintenance against him under section 125 of CRPC. He sought details such as; (i) Employee joining date in aforementioned organization (i.e. Ample Technologies (P) LTD) as mentioned in EPF account and period of service in this organization ;(ii) UIN Number and PF Account No of this employee (iii) Her basic and total pay per month (iv) Date of opening of EPF account by this employee i.e. whether it is opened from the date of joining in aforementioned company (i.e. Ample Technologies (P) LTD) if not then date of its opening, etc. CPIO through reply dated 22.08.2016 stated that their office had sought Ms. Pooja Bansal’s consent to furnish the information sought to the appellant, however, she had refused to disclose her employment related information giving reasons that litigation was pending. Therefore the CPIO had denied to provide information under section 8 (1) (j) of RTI Act. FAA passed an order on 21.10.2016 and held that there is no public interest established by the appellant that warrants the disclosure of information of his wife to him.
2. The appellant’s wife has filed a petition for maintenance against him and he sought to know whether his wife is employed in any establishment along with related employment details.
3. Generally speaking, PF account is generated when a person is employed and the account remains even after losing employment. Therefore the existence of PF account itself may not be proof enough that an employee is still continuing in an establishment. If employment continues, it is assumed that account remains active with monthly PF contributions.
4. The Commission rejects the contention of the officer that the information falls under section 8 (1) (j) of RTI Act as the information related to PF account of an employee is not third party information. It is mandatory as per provisions of law under EPFS Act which is a social welfare legislation meant for the organised sector of workers and hence cannot be denied under section 8 (1) (j) of RTI Act.
5. The expression ‘personal information’ applies to ‘individuals’ and not ‘bodies/institutions’ or entities working for the public good. The use of the term “personal information” under Section 8(1)(j) means information involving a private individual. There is a distinction to be drawn between having a legal personality and owning information in a private-personal capacity. An institution which is accountable to the public and has a public function to perform in a transparent manner cannot avail the benefit under Section 8(1)(j). Delhi High Court explained the term ‘personal information’ in Naresh Trehan vs. Rakesh Kumar Gupta and Ors. (2015) 216 DLT 156; Justice Vibhu Bhakru said:
“In my view, the aforesaid reasoning would also be applicable to the expression “personal” used in Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. The expression ‘individual’ must be construed in an expansive sense and would include a body of individuals. The said exemption would be available even to unincorporated entities as also private, closely held undertaking which are in substance alter egos of their shareholders. However, the expression individual cannot be used as a synonym for the expression ‘person’. Under the General Clauses Act, 1897 a person is defined to “include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not”.
6. The information sought by the complainant also cannot be considered as given under any fiduciary relationship. Justice Sanjeev Khanna, J, of Delhi High Court in Union Of India, vs Central Information Commission decided on 30 November, 2009, explained what is fiduciary capacity related information in his eloquent order as follows:
“The information relating to a private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law in force is information which may be made available and Information available with a public authority can be furnished.”
7. Thus, it is found that a) the information sought is not ‘third” party information, b) not personal information since no person’s privacy is involved, c) no fiduciary relationship between the employees and EPFO.
8. In case the information sought by the appellant is assumed to be personal information, the ‘public interest’ factor needs to be examined. Assuming that the appellant’s wife is employed and is receiving salary, it is a substantial factor in deciding maintenance issue. When rights of spouses are under enforcement as per the law, the factual information has to be furnished to help resolving of rights.
9. The public authority is under a duty to share the information regarding continuation of employment or otherwise in this case also. If public authority has any information to show that the appellant’s wife is having a PF account but the account is not active because of the discontinuation of employment for any reason, such information has to be furnished. If the PF account is active and monthly contributions are continued, the amount of such monthly contribution is to be given through which salary can be determined.
10. Since purpose of this RTI application is to check whether she is employed or not, such factual information has to be furnished by the public authority. If the public authority chooses to furnish information it should disclose the individual’s employment status and merely furnishing the PF number would be incomplete information.
11. It is not proper on the part of the appellant to seek every account detail beyond the requirement and the appellant should have only asked about the employment status of Ms. Pooja Bansal.
12. The Commission directs the respondent authority to furnish information as to whether her PF account is active or not, whether monthly contributions are made towards her PF account, any other information reflecting her employment and salary status after redacting personal details such as address, contact details, within 21 days from date of receipt of this order. Disposed of.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Central Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy
Copy of decision given to the parties free of cost.
Addresses of the parties:
1. The CPIO under RTI,
EPFO, M/o Labour & Employmennt,
Sub Regional Office, Yelahanka,No. 2, Murthi Complex, 1st A Main,
HIG A Sector, Near SBI, Yelahanka New Town, Bangalore-560064.
2. Shri Mohit Kumar Bansal,
BH-667, East Shalimar Bagh,New Delhi-110088.