Travel info personal, cannot be disclosed to 3rd party under RTI: Delhi High Court [12.4.2024]

Information related to travel is personal in nature and such details cannot be divulged to a third party under the Right to Information (RTI) Act unless it is in the larger public interest, the Delhi High Court has said.

The court has refused to interfere with an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that dismissed a plea moved by Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui, a death row convict in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts case.

Siddiqui had sought information under the RTI Act regarding the travel entries (departure and arrival) of Mohammad Alam Gulam Sabir Quraishi from the Mumbai airport to Hong Kong or China between January 1, 2006 and June 30, 2006 made with the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Immigration Office.

He had challenged the CIC's January 2022 order that denied the information to him.

"The travel information of any person is personal information and such details cannot be divulged to a third party unless the same is in the larger public interest, which justifies the disclosure of the said information. This court is of the opinion that the view taken by the CIC is not so perverse which warrants interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India," Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The petitioner had filed an RTI application with the central public information officer (CPIO) of the Bureau of Immigration, which dismissed the plea on the ground that the department was exempted from providing any information under section 24(1) and the Second Schedule of the RTI Act.

Thereafter, he appealed before the CIC, which also rejected it on the ground that Siddiqui was seeking third-party information that was exempted under section 8(1)(j) of the Act.

The petitioner's lawyer had submitted that the information was relevant for Siddiqui in pursuing his pending appeal before the Bombay High Court.

He had said the person whose travel details were sought was a witness and claimed that the petitioner was arrested after he was falsely implicated in the case and denying the information to him was a violation of human rights.

The high court dismissed the petition and said it was always open for the petitioner to approach the court concerned under section 391 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to seek this information if it does not form a part of the record of the criminal court.

The petitioner, presently lodged in a prison, had claimed in his plea that he was falsely implicated in the Mumbai train blasts case by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Mumbai.

Earlier, the court had dismissed another petition filed by the petitioner challenging a CIC order denying the disclosure of certain information pertaining to the sanction granted for his prosecution for offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) by the Maharashtra government.

It had also rejected his plea seeking the reports submitted by the Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh governments regarding the investigation into the train bombings.

Two petitions of the petitioner seeking certain information in relation to the officers involved in the investigation and the granting of sanction for his prosecution were dismissed by the high court.

It had dismissed his petition seeking the disclosure of certain information pertaining to the ban imposed on the Indian Mujahideen.

13 Apr 2024