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R.S. Gupta Vs. Govt. of NCTD and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (31 Aug 2020)

In absence of any remote connection with larger public interest, information relating to attendance record of staff members would be exempted


Right to Information

The Appellant filed an application under Delhi Right to Information Act, 2001 (DRTI Act, 2001) before Respondent No. 5 (Director of Education, Delhi) and Respondent No. 6 (Additional/Spl. Director (ASB/ACT-II), seeking information pertaining to Geeta Senior Secondary School, Delhi. Appellant sought attendance record pertaining to himself for the period from April, 2015 to March, 2017 and also of the rest of the staff members serving in the same school. The copy of the attendance register pertaining to the Appellant was provided to him, however at the same time information concerning the other staff members was declined on the ground that, information requested was exempted under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Aggrieved with the response received, Appellant filed an appeal under Section 7 of DRTI Act before Public Grievance Commission ('PGC'), the designated appellate authority under the Act.

Under section 7 of the DRTI Act, any person aggrieved by an order of the competent authority, or any person who has not received any order from the competent authority within thirty working days, may appeal to the Public Grievances Commission. The organizational structure of the Commission comprises of the chairman and members. The appeal was decided by the Commission, through Respondent No. 3 who was its member.

Except for making a bald assertion, the Appellant is unable to demonstrate as to how Respondent No. 3, who was member of the Public Grievance Commission, could not act as the Appellate Authority. The fact that, Respondent No. 3 was declared as the Head of the Department for the Commission vide order dated 20th March, 2018, does not mean that authority to discharge the functions of the Appellate Authority stood conferred only from the said date by virtue of such appointment. Therefore, there is no merit in the contention of the Appellant that, the order dated 20th March, 2018 has been passed by an authority not competent to decide the appeal.

Further, the Appellant is seeking attendance record of the other staff members of the Geeta Senior Secondary School No. 2, Sultanpuri, Delhi. Since the information requested relates to attendance record, it would entail revealing medical and personal information of an individual. The attendance record is part of service record which is a matter between the employee and the employer and ordinarily these aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression "personal information". The disclosure of this information ex-facie has no relationship to any public activity or public interest and pertinently, the Appellant is not able to explain or show any nexus between the personal information sought and the public interest involved, for seeking its disclosure.

Thus, in absence of even a remote connection with any larger public interest, disclosure of information would be exempted as the same would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. Petitioner has thus failed to establish that, the information sought for is for any public interest, much less 'larger public interest'. The appeal is dismissed.


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