In a major victory for open government advocates, a Manhattan judge has ruled that the NYPD must disclose the names of retired police officers who are collecting taxpayer-funded pensions. The decision marks a blow to the police department, which has spent the better part of a decade fighting to keep the information out of the public eye.

Anonymous data previously obtained by the Empire Center for Public Policy revealed that dozens of officers are collecting annual pensions in excess of $200,000, with at least one retired cop raking in close to $500,000 in public payments each year.

But while the NYPD Pension Fund was previously compelled to share the amount of benefits that officers receive, the department has long argued that the names of retirees should be withheld. On Tuesday, Justice Melissa Crane ruled that information was "of significant interest to the general public," and must therefore be made public.

"Public employees do not enjoy the same privacy rights as private sector employees," Crane wrote. "Disclosure of police officer names would lead to a higher level of accountability, and would also discourage occurrence of pension ‘double dipping’.”

Back in 2014, it was reported that some retired NYPD detectives were collecting police pensions while simultaneously earning taxpayer salaries from other city agencies. The number of retired cops receiving six-figure pensions more than doubled between 2009 and 2014, according to the Empire Center, which led the lawsuit.

“This decision affirms that the government is the public’s business and the public’s access to records should not be thwarted with baseless arguments for confidentiality,” Cam Macdonald, executive director of the Government Justice Center, which represented the Empire Center in the case, said in a statement.

The pension fund is ordered to turn over the data from fiscal year 2017. Former undercover police officers will be exempt.

A spokesperson for the Law Department, which represents the pension fund, said the city was studying the decision and reviewing possible legal options.