Disclosure of sanctioned strength of assistants in LIC under RTI
The applicant sought information regarding the sanctioned strength of assistants along with number of filled up and vacant posts and procedure followed for filling the vacant posts in respect of the offices under the Karnal Division of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) for three years. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act stating that the disclosure would expose their business plans and make them vulnerable against their competitors. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) informed the applicant that the strength of the assistants is not static and was decided on the basis of requirements from time to time. During the hearing, the respondent quoted Central Information Commission’s previous order [CIC/WB/A/2009/000883 – DS] to support their arguments in denying disclosure of the requested information.
View of CIC
Disagreeing with the reply of PIO, the Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that there is bound to be an approved sanctioned strength for the cadre of assistants in the Karnal division which must be disclosed. CIC directed the PIO to disclose the current position of filled up posts (as in May 2011) and vacant posts along with the procedure adopted for reporting the vacancies and action taken on such report by the competent authority to fill up the vacant posts. The Commission further noted that the order cited by the respondent cannot support the PIO's argument because the functions and duties of the assistants are confined to examining and processing business proposals and other clerical jobs and this category of employees does not form part of the field force of the Corporation.
There was an observation from the Commission which the administrative authorities grappling with the transfer orders would find soothing. The CIC observed that inter division transfer of assistants and cashier is an administrative matter which lies in the domain of the management who broadly adheres to the principles incorporated in the transfer and mobility policy of the Corporation while effecting transfers. If the management is called upon to justify and explain every transfer decision it takes in the interest of the business operations of the Corporation, it would cripple the management and encroach upon the legitimate activities of the executive taken in the interest of the business activities of LIC of India.
Citation: Mr. Vikas Vij v. LIC of India in Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2011/002999
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/453
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