Details of public exigencies for transfer of officials from abroad to headquarters
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking details of the officials in the rank of Section Officer and Under Secretary of the MEA whose tenure abroad has been curtailed under Rule 24(2) of the IFS (PLAC) and were transferred to the Headquarters on account of public exigencies with the dates of transfer to and from the Mission of the above officials. He also wanted details of the public exigencies involved in the said transfers. The Public Information Officer (PIO) refused to supply the information holding that the disclosure of such details of functional requirements for public exigency involved in transfer of the officials in Missions abroad could not be divulged as this might prejudicially affect the security and strategic interests of the country and its relation with foreign states and are exempted for disclosure under section 8(1) of the RTI Act.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC) the appellant argued that the information should be disclosed for the sake of transparency in the matter of posting and transfer of officials. He also alleged of arbitrariness in the matter of such transfers and the tenure of competent officials was curtailed abruptly while the Senior Officers were allowed to continue in similar circumstances.
View of CIC
The Commission held that the details about the public exigency considerations which necessitated the abrupt/ premature transfer of certain officials from Missions abroad would impair India’s relationship with friendly countries or its security interests. The CIC observed that as per section 6(i) of the RTI Act, the citizen has to specify the information he needs and the appellant has not asked for specific items of information but wants the PIO to do the research in order to find out how many officers of certain ranks have been transferred back by curtailing their tenure under some specific provisions of rules on the ground of public exigencies. The CIC held that this is clearly beyond the scope of the duty of the PIO. The CIC advised the appellant that if he has any specific cases of transfer in mind, he can always cite those and ask the PIO to provide the information.
Citation: Mr. Sankara Subbu v. Ministry of External Affairs in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/901859
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1386
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