Whether Disciplinary Proceedings Against Employees Is A ‘Personal Information’ Exempted From Disclosure Under RTI Act

Whether Disciplinary Proceedings Against Employees Is A ‘Personal Information’ Exempted From Disclosure Under  RTI  Act

Author: Mr. Harshal Sreen, Institute of Law, Nirma University.

Introduction

The RTI Act is one of the most discussed laws of recent times and also it gives a plethora of power to the people than any other law in India. The basic and fundamental aim behind this law is to entitle the individual to provide information to all the citizens of India from any public authority relating to the administration, operation, and decisions, to maintain the transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities.[1] However, there are many situations in which the information held by the public authority is very sensitive means which can’t be disclosed under the Right to Information. Not all the information that the Government generates will or should be given to the public; there is always some information that is very sensitive which should be kept secret so that no harm can because.

Section 8 is one of the most important provisions under the RTI 2005 as it specifies ten grounds under which the information can be exempted from disclosure.

In November 2012, Shailesh Gandhi, an RTI activist, and former information commissioner filed an RTI requested income tax department seeking the income-tax returns and balance sheets of Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. A number of public authorities dismissed his petition and subsequent appeals viz. the public information officer, the first appellate authority, the central information commission (CIC), the Bombay High Court, and finally the Supreme Court, which dismissed his special leave petition in 2015.

Personal information under RTI Act

Section 8(j) of the RTI Act specifies the personal information which can be exempted from disclosure. Under article 21 of the Indian constitution, every citizen has a right to privacy. So to protect this right exemption is granted under this section. The section exempts from disclosure personal information, including that which would cause “unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual”. One of the major components of sec.8(1)(j) is that it exempts the information which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of individuals unless the PIO or the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.

One cannot seek an annual confidential report of someone else as a matter of right. Such disclosure would be permissible only when the larger public interest so warrants. Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

·        Whether Disciplinary Proceedings Against Employee Falls Under Personal Information’ Exempted From Disclosure Under Rti  Act

Supreme Court’s judgment in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. CIC,[2] Court held that details recording proceedings of disciplinary inquiries were personal information, outside the ambit of the RTI Act. The court was of the view that the information solicited by the appellant was of a private nature, protected under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and disclosing the same would not cause any public good. The court ordered that “The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information”, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest.

Court also held that income tax returns, assets, liabilities, official orders and performance records of public officers are personal information and can be exempted under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act of 2005.


[1] Right to Information Act, 2005, No. 22, Acts of Parliament, 2005.

[2] (2013) 1 S.C.C. 212.

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