Published on: 31 August 2023 at 11:30 IST
The Karnataka High Court has overturned a decision by the State Information Commissioner to reject an application submitted by a college professor seeking access to the service records of a fellow colleague.
Justice Krishna S Dixit, presiding over a single bench, granted the petition submitted by A S Mallikarjunaswamy, nullifying the Commission’s decision to deny his RTI (Right to Information) application, which was declined under the provisions of Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Section 8(1)(j) states that information related to personal matters without a connection to public activity or interest, or that could lead to an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy, need not be disclosed, unless it’s determined that the broader public interest justifies such disclosure.
Justice Dixit asserted, “The invocation of Section 8(1)(j) is not applicable in this case, as the petitioner is not an outsider to the respondent institution; rather, he is a lecturer who has been employed there for years. It is evident that in the case of service-related grievances, an employee requires complete service details of other employees under the same employer, particularly in disputes concerning confirmation, seniority, promotion, and similar matters.”
The petitioner argued that he has the right to access material information regarding the service of individuals specified in his RTI Application. This information forms the basis for his claims in Service Law, including matters of confirmation, seniority, promotion, and similar concerns.
Agreeing with the petitioner’s stance, Justice Dixit stated, “The petitioner, acting as his own representative, rightly argues that without the service details he has requested in his RTI application, he cannot properly address his concerns in the subject of service-related matters.”
Moreover, the court found the petitioner’s reliance on a Government Order dated June 2, 2011, reasonable. This order outlines specific parameters for granting relaxation of service conditions related to reservation.
Justice Dixit emphasized, “In order to avail the benefits outlined in this Government Order, the information the petitioner has requested is crucial. Denying this information would essentially deny the petitioner the opportunity to avail the benefits of the Government Order.”
Consequently, the court ruled in favor of the petitioner, directing the Principal of Marimallapas PU College in Mysuru to provide the requested service details and related records within three weeks. For each day of delay beyond this period, the respondent must pay the petitioner Rs.1,000 from their own funds. Additionally, the Principal is required to cover the petitioner’s expenses, amounting to Rs.5,000.