“It would have been a different matter, had the information been sought by the wife in order to support her contention in a litigation, which she has filed against her husband”
The Bombay High Court has held that information relating to salary details of the husband cannot be disclosed in an RTI application filed by wife’s lawyer.
The lawyer of the wife, who had filed maintenance case against her husband who is an engineer working in a government department, had applied under the Right to Information Act seeking details of salary received by him. The state information commission had held that such information sought can be disclosed. The husband had challenged this order before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court.
Perusing the RTI application filed by the lawyer, Justice SB Shukre observed that the application has been filed in his own capacity by the advocate and not on behalf of his client. The court also added that the information contained in the salary slips would make the salary slips as having the characteristic of personal nature.
It also added that remittances made to the Income Tax Department towards discharge of tax liability or to the bank towards discharge of loan liability would constitute the personal information and would encroach upon the privacy of the person. The court also noted that, in this case, information sought is not just regarding mere gross salary, but also the details of the salary, such as amounts relating to gross salary, take home salary and also all the deductions from the gross salary.
However, the court also observed that in a litigation, wherein the issue involved is of maintenance of wife, the information relating to salary details no longer remains confined to the category of personal information of the husband alone and it assumes the characteristic of personal information concerning both husband and wife, which is available with the husband and hence accessible by the wife.
“This is all the more so when the information seeker is a person who is totally stranger in blood or marital relationship to the person whose information he wants to lay his hands on. It would have been a different matter, had the information been sought by the wife of the petitioner in order to support her contention in a litigation, which she has filed against her husband,” the judge said while setting aside the commission’s order.