The right to information is the essence of democracy; it empowers individuals to access information that is being kept by the state. It ensures transparency as the government remains accountable to individuals in the way it carries out its functions. The saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” stands true. Right to Information cannot implement in isolation, and it can only provide with specific restrictions, checks, and balances. The right to privacy renders the citizens with a right to control the collection, access, and use of their personal information that is in the hands of the state. As the two rights are premised upon radically different normative foundations, and they offer divergent theorems henceforth, potential conflict between them is inevitable.
When there is friction between the privacy of an individual and the Right to Information, there is no yardstick to weigh which right should prevail over another. The two valuable rights overlap extensively, and the existing structure is incapable of segregating the two without causing prejudice to either. The legislation and judgments available in India on this issue have led to various debates related to regulations governing access to personal information by the government. As truly said by Michel Foucault, “It is not possible for power to be exercised without knowledge, it is impossible for knowledge not to engender power.” Thus, it is requisite to accentuate a balance between the parallel rights.
The paper throws light on relevant sections of the RTI Act and corresponding provisions of Indian Constitution related to Right to Information and Right to Privacy. This paper, while exploring a comprehensive analysis of the conflicts between the two rights, features cases wherein the court has adopted methods of conceptual balancing to resolve such clashes. Lastly, the paper outlines the criteria for identifying where there is no conflict of rights; on the contrary, the reasons are coexistent to each other.