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Probe how over 4000 RTI applicants’ personal info was on website: Bombay HC to I&B ministry | India News – Times of India

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MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday directed the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) to conduct a “suitable inquiry” into how personal details of over 4000 Right to Information applicants were on its website until recently when it became aware of a 2016 office memorandum not to disclose them.
The order by a bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Milind Jadhav came on a petition by activist Saket Gokhale who faced hate calls, messages and mob fury after the Allahabad high court, on July 23, dismissed his public interest litigation to stay the gathering of over 300 guests for Ram Mandir bhoomipujan at Ayodhya due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gokhale’s petition said in October 2019, he had filed an RTI application with the ministry of youth and sports affairs for details on the Bharat ki Laxmi campaign. On November 22, 2019, the ministry of youth and sports affairs transferred his application to the I&B ministry which uploaded the information on its website four days later.
At the hearing on October 29, the I&B ministry’s reply was submitted to the court. It stated that after receiving Gokhale’s July 29 letter, it learnt of the October 2016 office memorandum that directed personal details shall not be disclosed. Till then, 4,474 RTI applications had been uploaded with the personal information of all applicants. They were removed on August 1, 2020. The judge then questioned if an inquiry was initiated into the lapse. “This is not only the petitioner’s case,” Justice Jamdar said.
The judges have directed Gokhale’s petition to be placed before the secretary, I&B ministry, whose responsibility it will be to ensure suitable inquiry is conducted. The inquiry report shall be submitted within three months. Gokhale is granted liberty to move high court if the inquiry is not conducted. The judges also directed that Gokhale be paid Rs 25,000/- litigation expenses.
In his petition, Gokhale had urged for Rs 50 lakh compensation for the mental trauma, agony and threat to life and liberty suffered by him due to the violation of his fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The judges have granted him liberty to move the civil court to claim it.



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