Disciplinary proceedings against a public official is personal information: Delhi HC
A division bench comprising of the Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw of the Delhi High Court (HC) has ruled that the information related to disciplinary proceedings initiated against a public official is personal information of the officer. Hearing a petition filed by the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Shri G.S. Narang, the Delhi High Court has upheld the views of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) not to disclose the information to the applicant R.K. Jain.
On the RTI application, the UPSC had taken a view that such information is personal to the employee. The UPSC contended that it does not conduct any disciplinary proceedings against the officer but only give its opinion to the government. The Central Information Commission (CIC) and the single member bench of the HC gave orders in favour of disclosure of the disciplinary proceedings.
The division bench relied upon an Apex Court verdict (Girish Ramchandra Deshpande case) wherein it was held that "information on disciplinary proceeding against an officer is personal in nature and the RTI Act exempts the department from disclosure of such details". Link to SC judgment at http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/dopt/SCDecision.pdf
The HC bench observed that “What is exempt in the hands of the employer would certainly be exempt in the hands of consultant of the employer also. The advice given by the appellant UPSC would necessarily pertain to the disciplinary action against Shri G.S. Narang. Section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. exempts from disclosure personal information, irrespective of with whom it is possessed and from whom disclosure thereof is sought”. The HC also observed that the RTI applicant has not claimed that the information was required in public interest.
Shri G.S. Narang is a 1974 batch IRS officer.