In April this year, it was reported in the media that Sachin Tendulkar, a former Rajya Sabha MP, donated his entire salary and allowances he earned during his Rajya Sabha stint to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Factly sought to know the quantum of the donation and filed an RTI application with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The PMO has now refused to share any information about the donation citing the privacy clause in the RTI act.
Sachin Tendulkar as Rajya Sabha MP
As Factly reported previously, Sachin Tendulkar rarely attended the Rajya Sabha during his 6-year tenure and rarely participated in the proceedings of the house. His attendance was a mere 7 percent by the time his tenure finished. He asked 22 questions and did not participate in any debate. He was supposed to initiate a short duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on 21 December 2017 on sports, his first in six years. But he could not because of the disruptions in the house. He did make good utilisation of his MPLAD funds though and recommended works to the tune of more than Rs 30 crore.
His Donation & the PMO’s Response
In April this year, it was reported that Sachin Tendulkar donated his entire salary to the PMNRF. Factly sought to know the quantum of donation and filed an RTI with the PMO. The PMO refused to share any information and responded by saying that the information sought is exempted under Sec 8(1)(j) of the RTI act.
What is Problematic With This Response of the PMO?
Sec 8(1)(j) of the RTI act states that ‘information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual” should not be disclosed “unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”
But in this case, the information that the donation was made and the approximate amount of donation is already in the public domain through media stories. In fact, the media also made a mention of a letter of acknowledgment from the PMO along with text of such a letter. It is outright irrational to assume that part of the information that is already in the public domain would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of an individual.
Moreover, the amount donated by Sachin Tendulkar is not his personal wealth, but the salary he earned as a MP. So the larger public interest also justifies such a disclosure. There is no reason for the PMO to hide such information and raises doubts about the quantum of the donation.
(This story was first published by Factly. It has been republished with permission.)