Riyaz Ul Khaliq
KL NEWS NETWORK
The Passport Office Srinagar has denied disclosing the total number of applications it has rejected for want of clearance from police and other agencies.
Human rights activist and Head Human Rights Division APHC (m), Mannan Bukhari said that he had filed an application seeking information regarding the “total number of Passport Applications/ forms of the citizens which have been rejected and consequently were denied Passports on account of the non-clearance reports by the police and other investigating agencies and Total number of such Passport Applications/forms of desired persons, which are Still pending for clearance/ further orders, before Passport Office Srinagar”. “The Chief Public Information Officer, Passport Office, Srinagar denied the same,” Mannan said, “I have moved an application to first appellate authority now.”
“The Chief Public Information Officer, Passport Office, Srinagar through his response dated 28-05-2015 addressed to the applicant denied information stating that the said information falls under section 8 sub-section 1 (g) and (j) of the Right to Information Act,2005 which envisages:
Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual …”
After denied information, Bukhari filed First Appeal before First Appellate Authority in which he termed the reply of the Chief Public Information Officer, Passport Office, Srinagar “vague and wrong” and stated: “That the reply/information sought by the appellant in terms of the application dated 15/05/2015 has been denied in categorical terms by the PIO concerned by stating the misleading and distorted reality about Section 8 1 (J) of the RTI Act, as such, the PIO concerned has miss construed the meaning of the above stated provision of the Act.”
Bukhari said that the law says: Sec 8: Exemption from disclosure of Information–(1) Not-withstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,-
(j) Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.
“It is submitted humbly that from bare perusal of section 8 1 (J) it has been categorically made clear in view of the said section that the information sought is purely of Public interest as such the disclosure of the same has definitely got relationship to the public activity and their interests, as such no unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual/public shall be caused in view of the fact that the appellant who sought the information, does not want it viz-a-viz the privacy of any individual/public,” Bukhari said in his application. “The fact of the matter is that the passport applications/forms of the citizens have been either rejected or with-held as consequence of which they have been denied passports on account of the non-clearance reports by the police and other investigation agencies.”
“The appellant didn’t seek the information about any particular person/individual, if this is the case, then the situation would have been different and it could have been easily assumed and presumed that the information sought is the unwarranted invasion on the privacy of any activity of public/individual, but here the case is different, the applicant sought the information about total number of passport applications/forms but not about any particular individual or public activity, hence the information sought in no way can be treated as unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual,” Bukhari’s application reads.
Bukhari said that the information sought as stated herein above, would not “endanger the life or physical safety of any person as reflected in Section 8 1 (g) of Act as the information sought is purely of public interest besides it has no bearing on Law enforcement, the disclosure of which shall be denied for security purposes”.
“It is humbly submitted that the PIO concerned has not assigned any reason/s as to how the information sought endangers the life or physical safety or as to how it is the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes. Hence the appellant has been deprived/denied the information sought without any reasonable cause or justification. Therefore the same amounts to the violation of the Principals of Natural Justice (PNJ) which is required to be addressed and redressed by this Hon’ble forum,” the application further reads.