CIC: File notings in vigilance files cannot be disclosed as they amount to information confidentially held by the Public Authority & thereby come within the scope of Section 11(1) read with Section 2(n) of Act; exempt as per Section 8(1)(g) of Act
O R D E R
1. Shri Satya Vijay Singh filed an application dated 22.06.2015 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking information on seven points pertaining to action taken on his complaint dated 23.02.2015. The CPIO, CVC vide letter dated 01.07.2015 transferred the RTI application for providing information on point nos. 2 to 7 to the Railway Board. The CPIO, Railway Board vide letter dated 03.08.2015 further transferred the RTI application to the North Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur.
2. The appellant filed a second appeal dated 07.11.2015 before the Commission on the grounds that he has not been provided complete information by the CPIO as well as the First Appellate Authority (FAA), CVC and Railway Board.
3. The appellant Shri Satya Vijay Singh and the respondent Shri Indra Prakash, Dy. CVO (Accounts), North-Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur attended the hearing through video conferencing. The respondent Shri A.K. Singh, Director, CVC was present in person.
4. The appellant submitted that he had sought information on seven points regarding his complaint dated 23.02.2015. However, the CPIO, CVC had only provided information on point no. 1 of the RTI application and transferred the RTI application to Ministry of Railways for providing information on point nos. 2 to 7 of the RTI application. The appellant further submitted that no satisfactory information has been received from the CPIO concerned.
5. The respondent (CVC) submitted that the information on point no. 1 of the RTI application regarding the date of receipt of the appellant’s complaint dated 23.02.2015 has been provided to the appellant vide letter dated 01.07.2015. The respondent further submitted that since the complaint was related to the Ministry of Railways, the RTI application was also transferred to the CPIO, Railway Board under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act vide the same letter.
6. The respondent (North-Eastern Railways) submitted that the RTI application was further transferred by the CPIO, Railway Board to the CPIO, North-Eastern Railways, Gorakhpur since the original complaint regarding which the appellant had sought information was also forwarded to the North-Eastern Railways. The respondent further submitted that the CPIO North-Eastern Railways provided point wise information as per available records to the appellant vide letter dated 14.10.2015, wherein, the appellant was informed in respect of point no. 2 of the RTI application that the file notings in Vigilance cases cannot be provided. In this context, the respondent relied upon the decision of the Commission in case no. CIC/AT/A/2010/000757 dated 12.11.2010.
7. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that the information related to CVC has been provided to the appellant. Hence, no action on part of CPIO, CVC is pending. The Commission further observes that the CPIO, North-Eastern Railways has not provided the copy of the inquiry report in respect of appellant’s complaint on the plea that the matter relates to a vigilance enquiry and the disclosure of the report would endanger the life or physical safety of the officers who were associated on completion of the said inquiry. The Commission further takes note of an earlier decision of the Commission relied upon by the respondent i.e. Case No. CIC/AT/A/2010/000757 dated 12.11.2010, wherein, the Commission has relied upon the case of Shri K.L. Bablani v. DG Vigilance, Customs and Central Excise, New Delhi, CIC/AT/A/2009/000617dated 16.09.2009, wherein the Commission has held that:-
“6………In most cases, the purpose is to find out the identity of those officers who had taken favourable and those who had taken unfavourable view of the conduct of such employees in recording the file-notes. The employees are aware that it is these notes, which eventually lead to decisions for, or against, them by the competent authority and want, for their own different purposes, to gain access to the identities of those recording the notes as well as the notes recorded to pursue their agendas about, or against, the officers recording those notes. It has happened in a few cases that even bona-fide comments made in such sensitive files by officers, when disclosed to the person in respect of whom such comments were made, brought retribution to the officer recording the note in the shape of a court proceeding, a notice for damages and so on. In some cases, even intimidation was resorted to………..Confidentiality of note-files, therefore, is an entirely wholesome principle conducive to good governance. Any compromise with objectivity in processing matters extant in the file, is potentially damaging to governance by exposing those entrusted with the charge of processing the matter to, undue, and sometimes, intimidating, scrutiny by interested parties.
In view of the above ratio, the file notings in vigilance files cannot be authorized to be disclosed as these amounted to information confidentially held by the Public Authority and thereby come within the scope of Section 11(1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information: read with Section 2(n) “third party” means a person other than the citizen making a request for information and includes a public authority. of the RTI Act 2005. Hence, the information sought is denied on the ground that the same is exempted from disclosure as per 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.
8. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
9. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation : Shri Satya Vijay Singh v. Central Vigilance Commission in Decision No. CIC/SB/A/2015/000649 Dated 08.02.2017