Information regarding premises and functioning of a bank, not “third-party information”

Central Information Commission (CIC): While observing that information regarding the premises and functioning of a branch of the bank cannot be regarded as the personal information of any third party individual, CIC directed the officials of Avadi Branch of Bank of India to provide the said information to the applicant.

Earlier, an RTI application was filed by the President of a consumer organization in Tamil Nadu seeking information on twelve points regarding the establishment and functioning of Bank of India’s Avadi Branch, including information like the number of staff posted at the time of opening of the branch and the present staff strength category wise, area and space provided for each staff member and customers as well as number of counters, whether the bank was functioning in its own building or rented building, if rented building, name of the land lord, rent fixed, electricity charges paid etc. The application was dismissed on the ground that the information sought was personal information relating to a third party. An appeal in the matter was also dismissed by the First Appellate Authority on the same grounds.

Not satisfied with the replies given by the officials of Avadi Branch of Bank of India, applicant approached CIC stating that the information sought was not personal information, but related to the functioning of the bank. Apart from reiterating the same grounds, Bank of India also stated before CIC that the information concerns a lease arrangement, electricity charges being paid by the bank and counters etc. of the bank and cannot be provided to the applicant.

After hearing both the parties, CIC observed that, “the CPIO was wrong in denying the information under Section 8(1)(j), as the information sought by the appellant cannot be regarded as the personal information of any third party individual, but relates to the premises and functioning of a branch of the bank. Further, no case has been made out by the respondents for denial of the information.” However, CIC further directed that the information regarding the strong room of the bank, including its area and location etc. was not to be disclosed. [T. Sadagopan v. Bank of India, 2017 SCC OnLine CIC 359, decided on January 27, 2017]

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