It is repeatedly reminded that the right to information (FTI) serves a variety of purposes for obtaining information at an individual level, which, however, certainly have societal effects.
One such problem is obtaining a copy of the Aadhaar of a child whose parents have separated or divorced. Last week, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) reiterated the Central Public Information Officer’s (CPIO) stance that it was not possible to trace the child’s Aadhaar details unless the RTI applicant provided the child’s Aadhaar number child. Before that, however, the resolution also insisted that parental consent (in this case, the mother) is also required under the third-party clause of the FTI Act.
RTI applicant Ravi sought information from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CPIO Regional Office in Chandigarh in March 2020. He gave his and his ex-wife’s Aadhaar numbers and asked for a copy of his daughter’s Aadhaar, who was born to them on September 15, 2015 at Masih Hospital. He also asked for information about the address where his daughter lives according to UIDAI’s records.
Both the CPIO and the First Appellate Authority (FAA) denied him information under Section 8(1)(j) of the FTI Act. Mr Jindal denied this, stating that as the minor’s father and natural guardian, he was entitled under Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 to receive the information requested. He therefore submitted a second complaint to the CIC, which came to the hearing on January 21, 2022 and was conducted by telephone.
Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Vanaja N Sarna observed: “The applicant (Ravi) is offended as, in his view, as the legal guardian of his minor daughter, he cannot be considered a third party. CPIO has also submitted that the applicant did not mention his minor daughter’s Aadhaar number, without which it was almost impossible for her to take any action. If they only give the names, they cannot find the Aadhaar number associated with the names.”
Ms. Sarna also stated in the order that although the CPIO withheld information, the CPIO should have notified the third party under Section 11 of the FTI Act and that withholding information under the indemnity clause was not sufficient.
Oddly enough, the third person in this case would be a child barely six or seven years old. Therefore, Ms Varna stated in the order: “It should be noted that in the present case, as the third party is the applicant’s minor daughter, her consent is not consent. Therefore, the CPIO should notify the mother of the daughter who currently has custody of the minor and, upon receipt of the response from her, provide an additional response together with a copy of the objections, if any, to the complainant.”
The deadline indicated for the CPIO is 30 days from the date of the appointment passed on January 21, 2022.
In another such case referred to by RTI Applicant Ravi during the second appeal hearing, RTI Applicant Nimish submitted an RTI Application to the UIDAI Regional Office’s CPIO. He had requested information on “all documents available at UIDAI in relation to the registration/issuance/change of the Aadhaar number for his minor daughter, holder of Aadhaar number xxxx for the period from 12 January 2012 to 23 April 2018”.
The CPIO denied information under Section 8(j) of the FTI Act. However, Nimish filed a second appeal, which was heard in November 2019. At the time, the CPIO stated that it had sent a copy to the mother for permission to share the information under the third-party clause of the FTI Act. He informed them that she had refused permission to share the information. The CIC limited the order to order the CPIO to provide the complainant with a copy of the letter sent to the third party.