Disciplinary proceedings were completed - Copy of the reports of the vigilance officer & the IT officer regarding action taken against the appellant was denied on the ground that disclosure would impede the ongoing police investigation - CIC: Order upheld
This matter, pertaining to an RTI application dated 31.12.2013 filed by the Appellant, seeking information on thirty points in the context of the action taken by the bank against him, came up today. The Appellant stated that the Respondents have provided incomplete and highly unsatisfactory information to him. He further submitted that a fraud was committed in the bank in 2010 and alleged that as a result of a conspiracy between the bank officials and some union leaders, a large amount was recovered from him in connection with the fraud. However, he was dismissed from the service of the bank in March 2011 as a result of disciplinary proceedings. He stated that while action was taken against him, some others, who were actually responsible for the fraud, were spared by the bank and that some of the queries of his RTI application were in this context. He also stated that copies of the vigilance reports, based on which action was started against him, have not been provided. According to the Appellant, a suspension letter was issued to him and some others on 16.2.2010, but was quickly withdrawn and subsequently, on 17.2.2010, another suspension letter, with completely different charges, was issued to him. He sought a copy of the suspension letter dated 16.2.2010, which has also not been provided.
2. The Respondents stated that they do not have any suspension letter dated 16.2.2010 on their records. They further submitted that a police investigation concerning the fraud is still in progress and a case concerning the matter is pending in a court, though the police is yet to file a chargesheet. Therefore, information in response to some points was denied under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act, as its disclosure would impede the process of investigation. The Appellant stated that he has been denied even the information concerning the initial investigations. The Respondents stated that they are willing to get the records concerning the disciplinary proceedings, which were completed and led to the dismissal of the Appellant, inspected by the Appellant.
3. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties before us and note that information in response to points No. 3, 4, 5, 6, 15 and 16 was provided by the Respondents through the CPIO’s reply dated 30.1.2014 and his subsequent letter dated 21.4.2014, which was issued pursuant to the order of the FAA. In some cases, the Appellant has sought information concerning the action taken by the bank against some third party employees (points No. 7, 11, 13 and 14). In the above context, we note the following observations of the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 3.10.2012 in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande Vs. Central Information Commissioner & Ors. :
“13. We are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. 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 Appellant has not established any larger public interest for disclosure of the information concerning the third parties sought by him. His grievance concerning the bank action against him cannot become the ground of larger public interest. Therefore, information in response to the above points cannot be disclosed to him.
4. In a number of other points, the Appellant has sought reasons for certain actions of the Respondents in regard to the fraud case, particularly the reasons for not acting against some other officials of the bank (points No. 9, 10, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 29 and 30). The queries at the above points are in the nature of seeking an explanation for certain actions of the Respondents and, therefore, do not fall within the ambit of information as defined in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. The Appellant believes that he should have been given a copy of the reports of the vigilance officer and the IT officer sought at point No. 1, which would explain the grounds for the action taken against him. However, the Respondents have denied copies of the above reports (point No. 1), together with the information sought at points No. 17 and 26, under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act on the ground that disclosure of this information would impede the ongoing investigation by the police authorities. We uphold the above decision.
5. However, we are of the view that information needs to be provided by the Respondents in some cases. With regard to point No. 2 of the RTI application, we note that the CPIO has stated in his reply dated 30.1.2014 “we could not lay our hands on any such letters dated 16.2.2010....”. However, he has not stated whether the records contain any other reference concerning a suspension letter having been issued to the Appellant on 16.2.2010. Therefore, the CPIO is directed to check the records again and provide a copy of the suspension letter dated 16.2.2010, if available. If a renewed search also fails to locate such a letter, the CPIO should inform the Appellant accordingly in writing. After rechecking the records, the CPIO should also inform the Appellant whether the same contain any other reference (such as notings etc.) regarding a suspension letter having been issued to him on 16.2.2010 and, if so, provide him a certified copy of the said reference. The CPIO should also provide to the Appellant a copy of the relevant rules in response to point No. 8 of the RTI application; as well as the information in response to points No. 18, 23 (action taken on the letters received from the Appellant between April 2010 till the date of the RTI application, i.e. 31.12.2013), 25 (copies of the correspondence between the bank and the Appellant, leading to the recovery of the amount from him and certified copy of any rules concerning such recoveries, if available on records), 27 and 28 (information concerning the expenses incurred relating to the fraud case in question, only if it is available separately). The CPIO should comply with our above directives, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. The information should be provided free of cost.
6. The Appellant may, if he so desires, convey to the Respondents in writing, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, his interest to inspect the records concerning the disciplinary proceedings, leading to his dismissal. In the event of his doing so, the CPIO is directed to facilitate inspection of the relevant records by him, on a mutually convenient date and time, within thirty days of receiving from him his expression of intent to carry out the inspection.
7. With the above directions and observations, the two appeals are disposed of.
8. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Vinod Kapoor v. Central Bank of India in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001151 & CIC/SH/A/2014/001515 (Same Case)