Can recommendations of CVC for carrying out investigation be disclosed RTI?
The appellant filed two applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (ITDC) seeking information regarding the recommendations received from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) based on which certain investigations had been carried out into allegations of wrongdoing in the renovation of a number of rooms in the Ashok Hotel. He also wanted information regarding the registers maintained by the ITDC to list the complaints received by it against its officers and employees and the subsequent investigations initiated by the authorities. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information recommendations received from the CVC under section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the RTI Act. He denied the rest of the information stating that the queries do not amount to information within the meaning of section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant argued that the desired information should be disclosed since the investigation was over and therefore, the exemption provisions cited should not apply in this. The respondents submitted that ITDC had received a number of complaints from the CVC alleging corruption in the renovation of a large number of rooms and this related to the Commonwealth Games. The ITDC authorities had investigated the matter and on the advice of the CVC, the ITDC had initiated major penalty proceedings against some officials and minor penalty proceedings against some other officials. The respondent argued that the disclosure of information would impede the process of the disciplinary proceedings.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the appellant has very clearly specified whatever information he wants and all that he wants are available in the form of material record. Therefore, it cannot be argued that he has not been very specific or whatever he is seeking is not information within the meaning of section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; . The CIC also held that the communication received from the CVC relates to those records based on which the chargesheet served on the errant officers would be proved. If these records are disclosed at this stage, it might impede the disciplinary process. The Commission further ruled that the disciplinary proceeding against an employee is a matter between the employer and employee concerned. To that extent, it is in the nature of personal information of the employee. The CIC held that the contents of the registers cannot be disclosed as it would bring into the open not only the names of various employees against whom investigations might have been carried out leading to institution of disciplinary proceedings, it may also reveal the nature of the charge leveled against the employees. The Commission directed the PIO to provide the copies of the complaints received from the CVC after masking the details of the identity the complainant; the communication received from the CVC recommending investigation into the above complaints; the photocopy of the relevant file noting in which the competent authority in the ITDC had decided to carry out the investigation and the statistical details contained in the two registers maintained by the ITDC.
Citation: Mr. Y S Yadav v. India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/901147 & 1148
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1140
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