Does service book of government employees fall under RTI?
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to know about the actions taken against a ticket examiner (TE) by the railways on a complaint earlier filed by a friend of the applicant. The application also sought a copy of the service book and confidential report of the concerned TE. The application was rejected by the public information officer at the office of the divisional railway manager, Western Railways, citing Section 8 (1) (J) of the RTI Act.
The applicant then approached the central information commission (CIC) contending that as the TE was in public service, the PIO’s denial of providing his service book and confidential report was against the spirit of the RTI Act. The TE, during the hearing, said that sharing of his service book might endanger his and his family’s safety. But the CIC held that the demanded information related to the service of the public servants was expected to be already in public domain under Section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; of the RTI Act.
The CIC has ordered the railways to make available the copy of the service book of the employee to the appellant within four weeks. However, the railways need not disclose the confidential report of the employee, the CIC order stated.
A service book contains two type of information, one which is personal to the government employees and the other which relates to the service matters like the date of joining, increments, transfers, leaves availed etc. It is the latter which is liable for disclosure.