RTI Information Cannot Be Denied Solely Due to Bulkiness: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court ruled in Indian Institute of Foreign Trade v. Kamal Jit Chibber that authorities can't reject RTI requests solely due to bulkiness. IIFT challenged a CIC order directing information provision to Chibber. The court upheld the CIC decision, stressing transparency in governance.

The Delhi High Court recently ruled that authorities cannot refuse information under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) solely on the grounds of it being bulky. In the case of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade v. Kamal Jit Chibber, Justice Subramonium Prasad emphasized that such a denial would effectively add an exemption under Section 8 of the RTI Act.

"The information sought by the Respondent (RTI Applicant) herein does not fall in any of the exemptions contained in Section 8 of the RTI Act. If this Court accepts the contentions raised... it will amount to adding one more exemption under Section 8 of the RTI Act," noted the Court.

The case arose from a plea filed by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), challenging a Central Information Commission (CIC) order directing it to provide complete information to Kamal Jit Chibber.

Two orders were issued by the CIC on December 25, 2015, and January 25, 2016. The first order allowed Chibber to inspect records, while the latter directed IIFT to provide categorical information on all 27 points raised by him.

IIFT argued that Chibber, a former employee, filed repetitive RTIs demanding voluminous information, requiring substantial resources to answer. They claimed he filed over 60 RTIs, each with 20-30 questions.

The Institute contended that disclosing such voluminous information was denied under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, citing resource constraints.

However, the High Court rejected the contention of a conflict between the two CIC orders, emphasizing that the information sought did not fit any exemptions under Section 8 of the RTI Act.

"It is not the case... that the information sought... would prejudicially affect the sovereignty... or constitute contempt of court... or harm the competitive position of a third party," stated the Court.

Thus, the Court upheld the CIC order and dismissed IIFT's petition.

Advocates Ginny J Rautray and Navdeep Singh represented IIFT, while Kamal Jit Chibber appeared in person.