Allowing the writ petition (WP NO. 2157/2012) filed by Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (Mahatransco) Limited, which challenged the order of state information commissioner, Justice Vasanati Naik held that such non-disclosure of personal information is protected by the exception provided in one of the provisions of the RTI Act itself.
In the given case, respondent Sureshkumar Patil, a resident of Hingna Road, had sought personal information of ten employees working in Mahatransco through an application dated June 6, 2011. He demanded confidential documents like annual performance appraisal and job description of these employees.
Patil had also asked for the documents relating to the job description of certain officers and the attested copies of representation for the upgradation of annual confidential reports of the employees.
The second respondent – state information commissioner’s Nagpur bench in Civil lines – had partly allowed the appeal on December 20 last year and asked the petitioners to disclose the information sought by Patil.
The high court held that such disclosure is unwarranted. Referring to section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, the court observed that disclosure of personal information, which has no relation with the larger public interest, causes unnecessary intrusion in the individual’s private realm. “Unless the central or the state information commissioner finds that such disclosure is justified for larger public interest, no personal information must be supplied with,” the court stated.
It also relied on an unreported apex court judgment of this year, which held that every individual is entitled to right to privacy and any such disclosure without reasonable grounds of public interest, violates the right of the individual. Accordingly, Justice Naik quashed and set aside the December 20 order of the state information commission while allowing prayers of the petitioner – public information officer and general manager Madhao Pendor of Mahatransco. DM Kale was the counsel for Mahatransco, while SB Wahane and AB Patil represented the first and second respondents respectively. (With inputs from Lakshmi Dwivedi)