File notings regarding disciplinary cases related to RTI applicant to be disclosed: Delhi HC
As per a recent Delhi High Court judgment, the government officials facing departmental proceedings and penalties can have access to the file notings and correspondence in the file held by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The decision of the court came during the disposal of many petitions filed by the UPSC against the orders for disclosure of documents passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC).
In the judgment, Justice VK Jain has held that UPSC cannot withhold such documents under the RTI Act if the information is related to the RTI applicant himself. However, in case of RTI application being filed by a third party, the UPSC can claim exemption from disclosure.
Earlier the UPSC had refused to provide copies of its advice to the government on disciplinary cases on the pretext that the advice might contain information which could put its officers at risk. However, the High Court contended that the safety of UPSC’s officials can be ensured by blocking the name, designation or any other indication from the file notings which would disclose or tend to disclose the identity of the author of the noting. Therefore, after applying severability under section 10, the information is liable to be disclosed to the RTI applicant if he happens to be the same officer.