Disclosure of cases of sexual abuse against public officials denied to RTI applicant
An application was filed with the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the details about the complaints of sexual harassment against officers of All India Services - comprising Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service - received in last ten years.
The reply from the ministry stated that the demanded information could not be provided as according to the Supreme Court decision in the Girish R Deshpande versus Central Information Commission and others, the requested information is exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act.
The decision has been criticised on the ground that the said order by Supreme Court doesn't deal specifically with the case of sexual harassment. In Deshpande case, the apex court had held that information including copies of memos, show cause notices, orders of censure or punishment, etc. issued to a government employee is personal information and cannot be provided under RTI Act. However, in many cases, it has been held that cases of sexual harassment come under the category of human rights violation and hence information regarding them must be disclosed under the transparency act.