Appellant: Action Taken Report of Vigilance Inspector & instructions containing the procedure of recording of evidence was not furnished - CIC: Information on expenditure of government money in an official capacity cannot be termed as personal information
1. The appellant filed RTI application on 18.11.2013 seeking copies of instructions/rules/orders detailing the procedure for investigation into vigilance complaints/recording witnesses, copy of investigation report(s) submitted by the Vigilance Inspector and copy of all proceedings/communication and Action Taken Report on two vigilance complaints dated 18.04.2011 & 17.04.2012 filed by him.
2. The CPIO responded on 13.12.2013. The appellant filed first appeal on 17.01.2014 with the First Appellate Authority (FAA) on the ground of incomplete information supplied. The FAA responded on 13.02.2014. The appellant filed a second appeal on 20.05.2014 with the Commission.
3. The appellant and the respondent both participated in the hearing through video conferencing.
4. It is stated by the appellant that he has sought information on three points about instructions/rules/orders detailing the procedure for investigation into vigilance complaints especially with reference to recording statement or evidence from the complainant, copy of investigation report(s) submitted by the Vigilance Inspector into both the referred complaints filed by appellant and copy of all proceedings/communication and Action Taken Report on two vigilance complaints dated 18.04.2011 & 17.04.2012 filed by the appellant.
5. It is stated by the appellant that the Action Taken Report of Vigilance Inspector and investigation reports and rules/instruction/orders containing the procedure of recording of statement or evidence from the complainant have not been furnished to him. The appellant further stated that he was the complainant in both the aforesaid cases and no statement from him was recorded by the Vigilance Enquiry Officer.
6. It is stated by the appellant that huge loss of public exchequer of about Rs. 62 lakhs has taken place in the purchase of uniforms.
7. Respondent stated that the complete Indian Railway Vigilance Manual is available on their website which is easily accessible and providing of inquiry report is exempted under section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; of the RTI Act in order to protect the identity of Vigilance officials. In this, they have relied upon the decision of the Commission rendered in case no. CIC/AT/A/2010/000757 dated 12.11.2010. The respondent further stated that the appellant has been informed in this regard vide their letter dated 13.12.2013 and 13.02.2014.
8. The respondent stated that the officers are posted in sensitive department like vigilance against tenure posts. In some cases, the officers recording such notes were junior to those in respect to whom the cases were being processed and no officer recording the note wanted his identity to be disclosed.
9. Appellant stated that the Vigilance Manual available on website does not contain the procedure of recording of statement or evidence from the complainant. The appellant stated that the order no. CIC/AT/A/2010/000757 dated 12.11.2010 of the CIC has been overruled by the CIC itself in case no. CIC/WB/A/2009/000945, 992 & 993sm dated 12.01.2011.
10. The appellant informed the Commission that recovery of amount already paid has been made from the supplier as on testing the uniforms were not found to be of requisite quality.
11. During the course of hearing, Commission asked the respondent whether there are any standing instructions from the competent authority to not disclose the secret information relating to vigilance cases. The respondent stated that no such standing instructions have been issued by any authority in this regard.
12. During the hearing the Commission had enquired about the quality standards for purchasing the uniforms and standing instructions on inspection procedure to judge the quality of uniforms. The respondent stated that they were not aware about these two matters. Discussion/observations
13. In addition to above decisions referred to by the appellant as well as respondent and hearing the contention of both parties, the Commission pursued the Commission’s earlier decision no. CIC/AD/A/X/2009/000121 Sh. Balendra Kumar Vs Ministry of External Affairs dated 14.09.2009, the observations of which has been concurred with by the High Court of Delhi in W.C. (C) 120/2010 Union of India vs. Balendra Kumar in its order dated 29.09.2010 inter alia stating that the information on the expenditure of government money by a government official in an official capacity cannot be termed as personal information.
14. Rules/instruction/orders (if any) containing the procedure of recording of statement or evidence from the complainant and action taken report on appellant’s complaint should have been furnished to him.
15. Quality standards of uniforms (if any) and their approved inspection procedure should be on the website of the railways and the same should have been furnished to the appellant.
16. Respondent is directed to provide to the appellant information
(a) rules/instruction/orders (if any) containing the procedure of recording of statement or evidence from the complainant and rules/instructions/orders regarding standards of quality of uniforms (if any).
(b) action taken report on appellant’s complaints dated18.04.2011 & 17.04.2012.
(c) using the severance clause of section 10(1) Where a request for access to information is rejected on the ground that it is in relation to information which is exempt from disclosure, then, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure under this Act and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information. of the RTI Act, if required, to severe parts exempted from disclosure in the proceedings,
(d) comply with the above within 30 days of this order.
17. The respondent public authority is advised to put the standards of uniforms and their approved inspection procedure on its website. The appeal is disposed of. Copy of the decision be given free of cost to the parties.
(Radha Krishna Mathur)
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Shaji M.K. v. South Central Railway in Appeal No. CIC/VS/A/2014/001645