Legislation likely on privacy infringement: PM

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 17, 2017 Published on October 12, 2012

UPA-I flaunted the Right to Information Act as a symbol of their honesty and transparency. UPA-II is today voicing concern about the ‘misuse’ of the Act, including infringement of personal privacy.

Addressing the 7th Annual Convention of Information Commissioners here Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “There are some obvious areas of concerns about the way the Right to Information Act is being used presently.”

He said that there were concerns about ‘frivolous and vexatious’ use of the Act in demanding information the disclosure of, which cannot possibly serve any public purpose.

On privacy infringement, he said a separate legislation was under consideration of an expert group under Justice A.P. Shah.

“Sometimes information covering a long time-span or a large number of cases is sought in an omnibus manner with the objective of discovering an inconsistency or mistake, which can be criticised. Such queries, besides serving little productive social purpose, are also a drain on the resources of the public authorities, diverting precious man-hours that could be put to better use,” he stressed.

Singh went on to say that such requests for information have, in fact, come in for adverse criticism by the Supreme Court and the Central Information Commission.

On concerns over possible infringement of personal privacy while providing information under the Act, the Prime Minister said. “There is a fine balance required to be maintained between the right to information and the right to privacy, which stems out of the Fundamental Right to Life and Liberty.

“The citizens’ right to know should definitely be circumscribed if disclosure of information encroaches upon someone’s personal privacy. But where to draw the line is a complicated question,” Singh said. Among the issues that he said needed to be addressed are how much information should entities set up in public-private-partnerships be obliged to disclose under the Act.

Blanket extension of the Act to such bodies may discourage private enterprises from entering into partnerships with the public sector entity, while a blanket exclusion may harm the cause of accountability of public officials, Singh added.


Published on October 12, 2012
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