In a recent order, the Central Information Commission has observed that the records relating to rape victims cannot be totally blocked from sharing with for research purposes on the ground of personal information under Section 8(1) (j). CIC Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu observed, “When it is possible to separate information that can be given from that cannot be given, the PIO has to invoke doctrine of severability to facilitate the information.”
The appellant, Mr. Baladevan Rangarajut, through his RTI application sought for information in relation to the rape cases referred to the Delhi Commission for Women, without revealing their name or identity namely, Case identification, Educational background of the victim, Thana where the case is registered, migrant status of the victim and also sought for information maintained by DCW with regard to the accused.
He was however refused the information by the PIO, in view of Sec 2 (j) of the RTI act. The PIO submitted that the details as maintained by them in a general form was furnished to the appellant and stated that further information could not be provided as it would involved infringing the right of privacy of the accused and the victim.
The Commission directed the DCW to facilitate inspection of the records to the authorized female representatives of the appellant with an assurance that they shall not bring any electronic device like video-recorder, mobile, camera etc, block out the names and personal details of the victim and accused by whitener on the photostat copies.
After this, it was directed that each each paper shall be verified by the DCW to ensure nowhere victims name and private details are revealed before certifying. The appellant was further directed to enter a non-disclosure agreement with an undertaking that he/his representative will not reveal the information about the personal detail of the victims and the accused and that they shall be responsible for any such revelation through the documents shared.
“The Commission finds that it is not proper on the part of appellant to seek analyzed and categorized data from the respondent authority which amounts to creation of readymade research information for his utility. It is for him to do that data analysis and he cannot throw that burden on the respondents. He has to ensure safety of records, privacy and safeguard the information taken from misuse,” the Commission added.
Read the Order here.