Employee entitled to service details of other employees under RTI Act to fight service case: Karnataka High Court

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The Karnataka High Court recently said that an employee is entitled under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) to get full service particulars of other employees in the same organisation so as to enable him to pursue a legal dispute relating to seniority or promotion. [A S Mallikarjunaswamy v. State Information Commissioner]
Justice Krishna S Dixit made the observation while dealing with a plea by a physics lecturer, who was denied such information under the RTI Act by Marimallappa’s PU College at Mysore.

“It hardly needs to be stated that for working out redressal for the grievances in service, an employee has to have full service particulars of other employees working under the same employer especially when dispute arises relating to confirmation, seniority, promotion or the like,” the Court observed.

The Court ordered the college at Mysore to furnish the service particulars of other employees within three weeks to a lecturer under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The Court also directed the college principal to pay a cost of ₹ 5,000. The Court added that the principal would have to personally pay the lecturer ₹1,000 for each day of delay in disclosing the information.

The Court also found that the denial of such information virtually amounted to the denial of an opportunity to avail the benefit of a Government Order, which prescribes certain parameters for granting relaxation of service conditions under reservation.

The physics lecturer had approached the Court against a State Information Commission (SIC) order, which had upheld the decision to not disclose the information.

The information had been earlier denied under Section 8(1)(j) in the Right To Information Act, 2005. This provision allowed the non-disclosure of private information.

The High Court, however, said that it was inclined to grant relief to the lecturer. The Court opined that there was no scope for invocation of Section 8 of the RTI Act since the “petitioner is not a stranger” to the college but had been working there for years.

Justice Dixit ultimately allowed the plea, finding that the petitioner was justified in contending that unless service particulars of other employees were furnished, he would not be in a position to work on his grievance in the service case.

The lecturer, AS Mallikarjunaswamy appeared in person before the Court.

Advocate Sharath Gowda G B appeared for the Karnataka Information Commission.

Advocate Kiran Kumar appeared for the concerned department of the college.

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