‘Remove RTI Petitioners’ Details From Public Domain’: Housing Ministry Directs All CPIOs, After Saket Gokhale’s Notice

Under the Right to Information Act all the Central Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities have been directed to remove the personal information of the applicants from the Ministry’s site by the Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (Housing Ministry). The ministry ordered this on 8th December which was a Tuesday and also stated that it was a matter of ‘Top Priority’. This issue came to light when it was brought up that the site of the Ministry published the personal details of the applicants and this was an issue of Right to Privacy. It started due to the representation made by an activist, Saket Gokhale who described it as “glaring and shocking negligence”. The Calcutta High Court in this particular which was brought up in front of them in the Avishek Goenka v. Union of India case ordered that the personal details of the RTI applicants shall not be disclosed unless they’re of some interest to the public. In another case heard by the Bombay High Court of Saket S Gokhale v. Union of India they had ordered a probe on the matter of the disclosure of the private details by the Ministry Information and Broadcasting. One of the headlines for that particular case was- Personal Info Of More Than 4000 RTI Applicants Displayed On Official Website. Personal details of RTI applicants including name, address, designation, email id, and telephone number shall NOT be disclosed as they do not serve any purpose of public interest was issued by Department of Personnel and Training in two separate Office Memos. Gokhale while urging to redact the files and take the necessary action against the people responsible, provided a link of the files of personal information available on the site. The number of these files amounted to almost 206 files.

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