Seeking information of organization under RTI Act cannot put question mark on  integrity of employee

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Rajiv Sharma and Harinder Singh Sidhu, JJ., allowed a petition made against the order by the Central Administrative Tribunal which allowed the demotion of the petitioner after the completion of his probation period.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was promoted to the post of the Assistant Food & Supplies Officer. As stated in the Court, the probation period was of one year. Though one year probation period was over, the same was extended by another six months. Thereafter the petitioner was issued show cause notice on the basis that petitioner had maintained an association with a party that had staged various protests against the department. It was also stated in the show cause notice that he was seeking information from the Department under the Right to Information Act. This was viewed as a question mark on his integrity. Thus he was reverted to the post of Inspector, Food & Supplies Grade-I. CAT also dismissed his appeal.

The Court held that if the petitioner was found indulging in any misconduct, the regular inquiry could have been instituted against him. The petitioner had the absolute right to get the information under the Right to Information Act. Seeking information under the Right to Information Act cannot put a question mark on his integrity. The Tribunal overlooked the basic principles of service jurisprudence while dealing with the probation period. The petition was thus allowed. [Pardeep Kumar v. State (UT of Chandigarh), 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 2389, dated 17-12-2018].

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