CIC: Punitive action taken by the concerned Government office upon being convicted of a crime, while holding the public office, cannot be considered as “personal” information of the wrongdoer; Furnish information about the departmental action taken
Information sought and background of the case
The appellant vide RTI application dated 02.07.2015 sought information under 4 points regarding action taken against one Shri Subash Chandra Gupta. CPIO vide letter dated 14.08.2015 furnished point wise information as available on record. The appellant preferred first appeal but the same remained unheard. Feeling aggrieved the appellant approached the Commission.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both parties are present and heard. The appellant states that an officer of Medical Stores Depot was found guilty in a case of bribery and sentenced to imprisonment for 3 years along with imposition of a penalty of Rs. 10000/-. The appellant sought to know what action has been taken against the said Mr. Gupta by the Department but information was denied on account of being Third party information. The respondent states that information with regard to point 2,3 and 4 have already been provided. Since the information sought in point No. 1 relates to 3rd party, hence the same was denied. On being asked as to why the information is required and what public interest will be served by such disclosure of information, the appellant states that he wanted to unearth corruption.
After hearing parties and perusal of record, the Commission is unable to agree with the plea of the respondent. The issue before the Commission is whether information about departmental action initiated against an offender for having committed a crime can be divulged to the public at large. In this case, it is noted that the concerned Third party viz. Sh. Subhash Gupta had vide email dated 15.07.2015 objected to disclosure of any personal information about him to anybody. The Commission notes that information regarding conviction of the third party by CBI Court is already in public domain and known to the appellant. Now he is seeking information whether further departmental action has been taken against Mr. Gupta in terms of the extant guidelines, in this regard. Hence, under the circumstances, punitive action taken by the concerned Government office upon being convicted of a crime, while holding the public office cannot be considered as “personal” information of the wrongdoer. Such information about action taken is likely to be already available in public domain and hence cannot be exempt under Section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005. In fact taking stern punitive action against such delinquents and making such information public will instil faith of the citizens in the operation of the Government office/s concerned as also will act in striking the fear of social stigma in the minds of the officials. Hence, the Commission directs the Respondent to furnish information about what departmental action was taken against Subhash Chand Gupta after he was convicted by the CBI Special Court. Information should be furnished within two weeks of receipt of this order.
The appeal is allowed accordingly.
Citation: Shri Ravinder Kamboj v. Government Medical Stores Depot, Haryana in F. No.CIC/YA/A/2016/000170; Date of Decision : 31.01.2017