Bombay High Court has imposed an exemplary cost worth Rs 25,000 on the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for making personal details of an RTI applicant public on the website. The court has also directed the Ministry to conduct an enquiry.
Lawyer activist Saket Gokhale had moved a petition against I&B Ministry for making his personal details public on the official website after he filed a Right to Information appeal against the “Bharat ki Laxmi” Campaign.
The division bench of Bombay HC comprising Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Milind Jadhav has issued the directions to place the papers of petition before the secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry and has sought a report within three months. The court has given the petitioner the liberty to move the civil court to claim the damages.
Counsel appearing for Union of India told the court that an enquiry has already been initiated. To which the court replied that in case no enquiry is conducted, the petitioner will be free to move the civil court.
On October 27, 2019, Saket Gokhale had filed an RTI application before the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, Government of India. The appeal was transferred to I&B Ministry later. The Ministry made Gokhale’s details public on the website.
His personal details, including telephone number and address, were available on the website and the other search engine as well, leading to the infringement of privacy.
Thereafter, activist moved Allahabad High Court seeking a stay on the inauguration function of Ram Janambhumi in view of pandemic COVID-19. The court converted his petition into public interest litigation and disposed of it.
The petitioner sought compensation worth Rs 50 lakhs from the I&B Ministry for the mental trauma, agony, and threat to life and liberty suffered by him.
Following the petition filed by Gokhale, Ministry filed an affidavit stating that there was no mala fide intention on the part of the Ministry to share his personal details on the website.