Does DDO of C&AG have powers to punish its employees without a disciplinary process?
The appellant filed two applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Accountant General (AG) seeking the copy of rules/ regulations under which the Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO) can instruct not to make any payment to any particular employee. He also sought the copies of the file noting and orders relating to NTP (a form of punishment). The appellant further sought the copies of the file noting based on which three specific circulars/ office orders had been issued. The Public Information Officer (PIO) stated that the DDO could at his sole discretion implement NTO in order to maintain discipline and decorum. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) observed that the NTP was a management tool conventionally used to regulate unauthorized leave, insubordination, recovery of excess payment etc. which was totally the decision of the administrative authority and that it was used as a temporary measure. He also held that the file noting relating to the implementation of NTP in respect of the employees could not be disclosed under 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. of the RTI Act. The FAA disallowed the disclosure in respect of the file noting based on which three specific circulars/ office orders had been issued.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the PIO and the FAA have contended that there is some form of punishment called NTP which the DDO can inflict on any errant employee to bring him to discipline. The CIC held that the disciplinary rules for Central Government employees including those working in the establishment of the C & AG do not propose any such punishment which the DDO can award to an employee at his sole discretion and there cannot be such an arbitrary provision under which a senior officer can withhold the salary of a subordinate for any length of time without going through the disciplinary process and without giving the employee concerned an opportunity of hearing.
The CIC also observed that since the office of the AG is employing this conventional artifice to discipline the employees they must be having some set of rules, which must be provided to the appellant. The Commission further held that if this particular punishment has been inflicted on many individuals, there must be some order in file. Holding that there would be corresponding file noting in which the competent authority would have approved the issue of such circulars/ orders if any, the CIC directed the PIO to provide all the information to the appellant. The CIC directed to provide the copy of the circulars/ guidelines/ office order authorizing the DDO to order NTP in respect of any employee, the copies of the file noting relating to NTP in respect of specific employees and the relevant notes sheets/file noting leading to the issue of circulars/office orders.
Citation: Mr. Manish Kumar v. Accountant General (Economics & Revenue Sector Audit) in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001472 & 1765
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1268
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission