Madras HC directs TN Public Service Commission to disclose the details of caste, including sub-caste
In a recent case, the Madras High Court rejected the apprehension of TNPSC, that in-depth description of castes will create communal unrest, observing that it is only an illusion and imaginary and. The Court ruled that if it is the real concern of TNPSC and the Government, they should think of abolishing the quota system as well as removal of column regarding caste particulars in the school certificate itself, so that the people of Tamil Nadu could stand united under one roof irrespective of caste, creed, religion, etc. at least in the year 2050. The Court also passed scathing remarks against the PIO and issued certain directions.
The applicant sought certain information from the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission about the total vacancies and number of seats allocated to the Backward Community, Most Backward Community etc. The information was denied under Section 8 (1)(d) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 claiming that the details sought for are not at all warranted and that it would amount to invasion of privacy.
View of High Court
The Court directed the TNPSC to furnish the details to the respondent herein sought for by him and held as under:
- When the general list itself has already been published for public view, as stated in the petition, there is nothing wrong in disclosing the details to the respondent. In the list, the details of caste, including sub-caste have to be necessarily mentioned and the contention that such revelation would create communal disharmony is not acceptable.
- The Officials are used to adopt a tactic answer in mechanical manner that the information sought for is exempted in the light of Section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the Act, without actually ascertaining as to whether the information sought falls within the ambit of the said provision. Such Officers must be taught a lesson and in my view, they are unfit to hold the post of Public Information Officer or any other post in connection with the discharge of duties under RTI Act and they should be shown the doors, so that it will be a lesson for other Officers to act in accordance with the terms of the Act, failing which they may also face the similar or more consequences.
- The contention that the details sought for are not at all warranted and that it would amount to invasion of privacy was rejected holding that the selection itself is based on caste wise quota.
- Transparency does not undermine judicial freedom.
- Mere pendency of the matter is not a bar to furnish details even if it pertains to the very same case pending before the Court.
- The TNPSC is directed to ascertain the position, including the names of Officials, who had failed to discharge their official duties as adumbrated under the RTI Act, 2005, along with the compliance report, to the Registrar (Judicial) of this Court, so as to enable this Court to pass further orders in the matter.
- It is not necessary that a person seeking information is a citizen of the country or has a direct interest in the matter. As a matter of fact, the provision of Section 6 confers right to information to any person for the obvious reason that right to information flows from the right to expression. (This view appears to be contrary to the Section 3 of the Right to Information Act which reads, “Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information”).
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2020/CIC/1495
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission