Service Details of Employees Amounts to ‘Personal Information’ Which Cannot Be Furnished Under RTI Act: SC

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The Supreme Court has held that service details of employees fall within the ambit of ‘personal information’ under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, and that such details cannot be furnished unless any nexus with larger public interest is shown. This was held by allowing the appeal filed by Canara Bank Ltd., against the judgment of the High Court. An employee of the bank had sought information regarding transfer and postings of entire clerical staff during the period from 01.01.2002 to 31.07.2006. The Public Information Officer declined to furnish information stating it was personal information exempt under Sec.8(1)(j). On appeal, the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) directed the Bank to furnish the information as sought for. Against the order of the CIC, the Bank approached the High Court.

The Single Bench and the Division Bench concurrently held against the Bank, dismissing the writ petition. However, the Supreme Court held otherwise, and set aside the order of the CIC, which was upheld by the Single Bench and Division Bench of the High Court. Drawing support from Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commissioner & Ors., (2013) 1 SCC 212 and R.K. Jain vs. Union of India & Anr., (2013) 14 SCC 794, the Court held that the information sought for was exempt under RTI Act. It was held as follows:

14) In our considered opinion, the aforementioned principle of law applies to the facts of this case on all force. It is for the reasons that, firstly, the information sought by respondent No.1 of individual employees working in the Bank was personal in nature; secondly, it was exempted from being 7 disclosed under Section 8(j) of the Act and lastly, neither respondent No.1 disclosed any public interest much less larger public interest involved in seeking such information of the individual employee and nor any finding was recorded by the Central Information Commission and the High Court as to the involvement of any larger public interest in supplying such information to respondent No.1.

By: Tushar Solanki

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