Complainant: Information concerning a third party was sought claiming that he was discriminated against in the matter of VRS - CIC: the allegation cannot become the ground of larger public interest warranting disclosure of third party information
These files contain complaints in respect of the following RTI applications:
(i) Application dated 19.8.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000127) filed to the Head office of the Bank.
(ii) Application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000123) filed to the Head office of the Bank.
(iii) Application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000126) filed to the office of the Circle Head, Vellore Circle.
(iv) Application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000128) filed to the Kancheepuram Circle office of the Bank.
The Complainant has lodged complaints to the CIC in all the four cases, praying for calling of all the relevant records by the Commission, inspection of all the sites to which the information sought belonged, direction to the CPIO to provide complete and comprehensive information free of cost, action against the CPIO under Section 20 (1) and (2) and payment of compensation to the Complainant.
2. We heard the submissions of the Complainant and the Respondents. The Respondents stated that the following two RTI applications before us today were the subject matter of appeals considered by the Commission in its order No.CIC/SM/A/2011/000009/SG/15469 dated 4.11.2011:
(i) RTI application dated 19.8.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000127).
(ii) RTI application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000123).
In the above order, the Commission disposed of the appeals by stating that the information available appeared to have been provided.
3. With regard to the RTI application dated 19.8.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000127), we note that pointwise reply was given by the CPIO in his letter dated 3.9.2010. On the queries regarding VRS scheme, he stated that it was not possible to provide the information as the records / files pertaining to VRS 2000 were destroyed in a fire accident that took place at the Head Office building on 11.11.2008. The Complainant stated during the hearing that the police authorities informed him that the fire took place only on the 5th floor of the office and some of the records should be available on the other floors or in other offices. The Respondents submitted that the fire indeed took place on the 5th floor of the office and reiterated that all the relevant records were destroyed in the same. They further submitted that they are not in a position to provide any information concerning the VRS issue. The above application also contains six points seeking copy of the service sheet of Smt. Girija Kalyanaraman, Officer of the Bank, who had obtained VRS during the year 2000, copy of the inspection reports / statutory audit reports etc. relating to the period when Smt. Kalayanaraman was working as Manager of a branch of the bank, copy of the Demand Promissory Note time barred report generated in the concerned branch, copies of inspection reports / statutory audit reports for a period of three years subsequent to Smt. Kalayanaraman leaving the charge of the above branch and copy of her personal file. The CPIO denied the above information under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, stating that it was personal information of the above mentioned officer. In the above context, we note that the information sought by the Complainant covers not only documents containing a good deal of personal information of the above officer, such as her personal file etc., but also audit reports etc., which would contain information regarding the bank’s transactions with its customers. All such information is exempted from disclosure in the absence of finding of larger public interest warranting its disclosure. The Supreme Court has made the following observation in its judgment dated 3.10.2012 in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & Ors.:
“The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression "personal information", the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.”
The Complainant stated that he sought information concerning Smt. Kalayanaraman because he was discriminated against in the matter of VRS, while Smt. Kalayanaraman was allowed to obtain VRS. We note that the above allegation of the Complainant cannot become the ground of larger public interest, warranting disclosure of the information concerning Smt. Kalayanaraman, sought by him. We also see no ground to interfere with the response of the CPIO to the points of the RTI application concerning the VRS scheme.
4. In the RTI application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000123), the Complainant sought information on ten points including the personal file of Smt. Kalayanaraman. The CPIO gave pointwise reply on 3.11.2010 and we see no ground to interfere with the same.
5. In the RTI application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000126), filed to the Vellore Circle Office of the Bank, the Complainant sought proof of delivery of certain letters and related details. The CPIO informed him that the Circle Office did not seem to have received the letters in question and there were no records of dispatch of the said letters from the Circle Office.
6. In the RTI application dated 5.10.2010 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000128), filed to the Kancheepuram Circle Office, the Complainant sought information on five points concerning Smt. Kalayanaraman. Most of the information sought in this case was the same as that sought from the Head Office in the RTI application dated 19.8.2010. The CPIO responded on 9.11.2010 and stated, inter alia, that the bank was expected to retain the relevant records for a period of five to eight years only and since the information sought by the Complainant was more than ten years old, it was not possible to provide the same. Aside from the foregoing, as mentioned above in this order in the case of the RTI application dated 19.8.2010, the Complainant has established no larger public interest for disclosure to him of the information sought by him in this case.
7. Having considered the records and the submissions made before us, we see no deliberate attempt by the Respondents to deny information to the Complainant. We also do not consider it necessary to interfere with the replies of the Respondents to the four RTI applications. Consequently, there is no need for the Commission to call for the records and no justification for the Complainant’s prayers for action against the CPIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act and award of compensation to him.
8. In the light of the forgoing, the four complaints before us are devoid of substance and are dismissed.
9. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri M Swaminathan v. Indian Bank in File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000127 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000123 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000126 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000128