Employee’s performance details cannot be disclosed under RTI: HC

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court of  J&K and Ladakh on Saturday held that the “performance of an employee or an officer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and falls within the meaning of personal information.”

A division bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Sindhu Sharma termed furnishing of such information an unnecessary invasion in privacy while allowing a petition filed against an order by Central Information Commission (CIC).

The court’s direction came on a plea filed by an organisation, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) challenging CIC’s direction to its Public Information Officer to furnish the “complete and truthful information point-wise” to an applicant under RTI. The applicant had sought copies of all the complaints filed against one of the organization’s employees.

While the Public Information Officer of KVS on 1 March 2014 declined to provide the information on the ground that the information sought for qualifies as “personal information” within the meaning of provisions of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, the applicant filed appeal before the Central Information Commission, which came to be allowed on 14 February 2017. It had directed the Public Information Officer to furnish the complete details.

After hearing the parties, the court responded in affirmative if information sought for by the RTI applicant under the Right to Information Act, 2005 qualifies as personal information within the meaning of provisions of Section 8(1)(j) of the Act.

“After going through the file and the relevant clause of Right to Information Act, we are in agreement that the information sought for by the respondent (RTI applicant) falls under the expression personal information and the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest, rather it would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual,” the Court said.

The performance of an employee or an officer in an organisation, the court said, is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer. “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,” the court said, adding, “On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual.”

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