MUMBAI: An activist has moved Bombay high court, seeking directions to the ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to remove his personal details from its website, and to pay him Rs 50 lakh compensation for “mental trauma, agony and threat to life and liberty suffered”.
Saket Gokhale (33), a former journalist, had been besieged with hate calls and messages after Allahabad high court dismissed his PIL on July 23. The PIL was converted from his letter which sought a stay on a gathering of 200-odd guests for the Ram Mandir bhoomipujan in Ayodhya due to the pandemic.
Gokhale’s petition to the high court mentions that an RTI application that he had filed in October 2019 was uploaded on the MIB’s website the following month with his contact details and address publicly displayed. His RTI application to the ministry of Youth & Sports Affairs (MYSA), had sought details of the ‘Bharat ki Laxmi’ campaign where sportswomen like Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu on October 22 supported the campaign and thanked PM Narendra Modi with the “same tweet with same words”. The MYSA had transferred his application to the MIB, saying it relates to the ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme.
The petition informs that after his PIL in Allahabd high court on July 24, 2020, “a mob of 12-15 people” gathered outside his house, chanting slogans and asking him and his mother to come and face them. An FIR was lodged and he was given police protection.
Gokhale’s petition also refers to a 2013 order of Calcutta High Court which stated that it would be the responsibility of any public authority under RTI Act, 2005, to hide personal details of applicants from their website. Subsequently, the ministry of Personnel circulated this order to all ministries for compliance.
Gokhale’s petition says his contact information and address were not available anywhere in public until they were uploaded on the MIB’s website. Also MIB’s action has violated his fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.
On September 3, a bench headed by Justice Nitin Jamdargranted Gokhale a week to serve the MIB a notice.