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RTI- Once A Party Dies His/Her Death Certificate Can't Be Termed As 'Third Party Information': Himachal Pradesh High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
28 Aug 2021 7:21 AM GMT
RTI- Once A Party Dies His/Her Death Certificate Cant Be Termed As Third Party Information: Himachal Pradesh High Court
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The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday held that once a party has died, his/her death certificate cannot be termed a 'Third Party Information' as per Section 11 of the Right to Information Act, as that information relates/related only to the deceased. The Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan was hearing the plea of an appellant/applicant whose application seeking a copy of...

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday held that once a party has died, his/her death certificate cannot be termed a 'Third Party Information' as per Section 11 of the Right to Information Act, as that information relates/related only to the deceased.

The Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan was hearing the plea of an appellant/applicant whose application seeking a copy of the death certificate and the names and addresses of legal representatives of a deceased was denied citing Section 8(1)J and Section 11 of right to Information Act, 2005.

He sought direction to the Panchayat Secretary, Shingla, (District Shimla) to provide him a copy of the death certificate and the names and addresses of legal representatives of deceased.

During the course of the previous hearing on July 8, 2021, the Court had called for the explanation from the Public Information Officer-cumPanchayat Secretary Shingla as to why the said information was denied.

PIO's response

Pursuant to Court's order, the concerned PIO informed the Court that when the information was sought, the same was intimated to the wife of the deceased (whose death certificate was sought) that copies of Death Certificate, Legal Heir and BPL have been requested and it was asked as to whether the same in context to her husband shall be provided or not.

Thereafter, the wife of the deceased had intimated the PIO that the details pertaining to her husband should not be provided to the Advocate/applicant.

Accordingly, the Advocate/applicant was apprised by PIO that the said information cannot be provided as per Rule 8(1) and Section 11 of the RTI.

Regarding the death Certificate, it was submitted that, Birth and Death Register is maintained by the Panchayat Secretary of concerned Gram Panchayat as a local Registrar Birth and Death and the same is provided by the Panchayat Secretary to the family members of the deceased person only.

Court's order

In view of this response filed by the PIO, the Court observed thus:

"To say the least, the interpretation given by the Additional Director (Panchayati Raj) is based on total misunderstanding, misconception and misinterpretation of the provisions of the Right to."

"It is more than settled that those entries in Birth and Death Register are public documents and admissible under Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act and it is not necessary to prove, who made the entries and what was the source of information," the Court further added.

Therefore, taking into consideration such facts and circumstances, the Court directed thus:

"Henceforth, whenever a copy of death certificate is demanded by any person or authority under Right to Information Act, or even on simple paper, the same shall be given by all the Panchayat Secretaries in the State of Himachal Pradesh, subject to of course on usual charges."

The Director (Panchayati Raj) has been directed to issue necessary instructions in this regard within one week.

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