Woman’s lawyer not eligible to get  hubby’s salary details under RTI: HC

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Oct 2018 10:59:23


Legal Correspondent,

In a major ruling which will have a far-reaching impact on pending matrimonial disputes, Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has held that information relating to salary details of the husband cannot be disclosed in an Right to Information (RTI) query filed by wife’s lawyer. However, the High Court made it clear that wife can access such details while fighting case of maintenance.

“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,” observed Justice S B Shukre.

The lawyer of the wife, who had filed maintenance case against her husband, an Assistant Engineer posted with Minor Irrigation at Chandrapur, had applied under RTI seeking details of salary received by him. The State Information Commission had held that such information sought can be disclosed. The aggrieved husband Rajesh Kidile had challenged this order before the High Court.

Allowing the writ petition, Justice Shukre, quashed and set aside the order passed by State Information Commissioner directing disclosure of salary details to a RTI query filed by lawyer of his wife. The High Court held that the SIC, while passing the impugned order, did not consider all the aspects including the issue of breach of the right to privacy and, therefore the order was patently illegal and not sustainable in the eye of law. Perusing the RTI application filed by the lawyer, Justice Shukre observed that the application had been filed in his own capacity by the advocate and not on behalf of his client.

Any information which discloses, payments 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. Therefore, as held by the Supreme Court in the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Central Information Commissioner and Others - AIR 2012 SC (Supp.) 690, the personal information cannot be disclosed under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 - RTI. The nature of the information sought takes the case into the category exempted under the RTI Act. 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, the High Court noted.

Advocate J R Kidilay appeared for the petitioner. Advocates R D Bhuibhar (State Information Commissioner), K D Deshpande (SE and EE Minor Irrigation) and M K Kulkarni (Adv R D Sontakke,wife’s counsel) represented the respondents.