IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
  
  
  
  W.P.(C) 2143/2011
  
  
  
  VIRENDER SINGH DABAD ..... Petitioner
  
  Through: Mr. Anshu Mahajan and Mr. Vikas Aggarwal, Advocates
  
  
versus
  
  
  
  THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ..... Respondent
  
  Through: Mr. Ashish Makhija and Inderjeet Singh for R-2
  
  
  
  CORAM:
  
   HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE VIPIN SANGHI
  
  
  
   O R D E R
  
   28.11.2011
  
  
  
  It is informed that the name of respondent no.2 has been changed to
  Air India Limited.
  
  The petitioner impugns the order dated 09.30.2010 passed by the
  Central Information Commission (CIC) in Case No.CIC/OP/A/2009/000031. By
  the impugned order, the query raised by the petitioner for disclosure of
  name of 1200 persons to whom complimentary tickets were issued in 2006 by
  the respondent has been denied on the ground that the commercial interest
  of the respondent, Air India may be affected by disclosure of details of
  complimentary tickets. For this purpose, reliance is placed on section
  8(1)(d) of the RTI Act.
  
  The preliminary objection raised by learned counsel for respondent
  no.2 is that the present writ petition has been filed belatedly,
  inasmuch, as, the impugned order was passed on 09.03.2010, whereas the
  petition was preferred nearly over a year in March 2011.
  
  I do not find any merit in this submission. Firstly, the period
  taken by petitioner itself does not appear to be excessive. Secondly,
  the so-called delay has not caused any prejudice to the respondent.
  Thirdly, even if the said information were to be demanded by any third
  party even today, the respondent would necessarily have to deal with the
  application in accordance with law.
  
  The rule is in favour of disclosure of information by a public
  authority, and the exception is to withhold the same. The exceptions are
  contained in section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005, and to withhold information,
  the public authority should make out a case falling under one of the
  exceptions provided to in section 8 of the Act.
  
  In the present case, the only exception relied upon by the
  respondent is as provided in Clause (d) of section 8(1) of the Act. This
  provision read as follows:
  
  
  
  8. Exemption from disclosure of information.-
  
  1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no
  obligation to give any citizen,-
  
  
  
  (a) . .
  
  (b) . .
  
  (c) .
  
  
  
  (d) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or
  intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive
  position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied
  that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information ;
  
  
  
  
  
  The reasoning adopted by the CIC in the impugned order is that the
  disclosure of the details of the persons to whom complimentary tickets
  were issued by the Air India in 2006 would affect the commercial interest
  of Air India. This is also the submission of learned counsel for
  respondent no.2.
  
  I do not agree with the finding of the CIC as also the submission
  of counsel for the respondent. Clause (d) of section 8(1) deals with
  information which is of commercial confidence or trade secrets or
  intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive
  position of a third party. In this case, the information sought by the
  petitioner, namely, the names of the persons to whom complimentary
  tickets were issued in the year 2006 does not even pertain to a third
  party. It pertains to the public authority itself. Moreover, the
  identity of the persons to whom complimentary tickets were issued does
  not constitute information which can be said to be of commercial
  confidence or a trade secret and certainly it does not constitute an
  intellectual property.
  
  The respondent, Air India is a public authority dealing with public
  funds and public assets. In the course of its operations, it may for
  good reasons, issue complimentary tickets for promotion of its commercial
  interest. However, there is no reason to be secretive about the persons
  to whom such complimentary tickets are issued.
  
  The submission of learned counsel for the respondent is that if the
  identity of those persons is disclosed, the other competitors in the
  field of aviation would take advantage of the same is neither here nor
  there. It is not explained as to how the disclosure of the identity of
  these persons would harm the commercial interest of the respondent. In
  fact, one of the criteria for issuance of complimentary tickets would be
  the popularity of the public figure to whom these tickets are issued, so
  as to attract other passengers on the airline.
  
  For the aforesaid reasons, the impugned order cannot be sustained and is quashed. The respondent no.2 is directed to disclose the names of
  the persons to whom complimentary tickets were issued in the year 2006 by
  respondent no.2. The said disclosure be made within four weeks.
  
  Petition stands disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  VIPIN SANGHI, J
  
  NOVEMBER 28, 2011
  
  sr
  
  13.