Guide For The Central Public Information Officers
Third Party Information
- Third party in relation to the Act means a person other than the citizen who has made request for information. Any public authority other than the public authority to whom the request has been made shall also be included in the definition of third party.
- It may be noted that information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, is exempt from disclosure. Section 8(1) (d) requires that such information should not be disclosed unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
- If an applicant seeks any information which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and that third party has treated that information as confidential, the Central Public Information Officer should consider whether the information should be disclosed or not. The guiding principal in such cases should be that except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party. However, procedure as given below should be followed before disclosing such information. It may be noted that procedure need be followed only when the third part has treated the information as confidential.
- If the CPIO intends to disclose the information, he should within five days from the receipt of the application, give a written notice to the third party that the information has been sought by the applicant under the RTI Act and that he intends to disclose the information. He should request the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed. The third party should be given a time of ten days, from the proposed disclosure, if any.
- The Central Public Information Officer should make a decision regarding disclosure of information keeping in view the submission of the third party. Such a decision should be taken within forty days decision, the CPIO should give a notice of his decision to the third party in writing. The Notice give to the third party should include a statement that the third party is entitled to prefer an appeal under section 19 against the decision.
- The third party can prefer an appeal to the First Appellate Authority against the decision made by the Central Public Information Officer within thirty days from the date of the receipt of notice. If not satisfied with the decision of the First Appellate Authority, the third party can prefer the second appeal to the Central Information Commission.
- If an appeal has been filed by the third party against the decision of the CPIO to disclose the third party information, the information should not be disclosed till appeal is decided.
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