Information about a missing loan file - a departmental inquiry against the appellant was complete and disclosure not relevant - CIC: RTI Act cannot be used to circumvent the procedures pertaining to the bank’s departmental proceedings
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an RTI application with the PIO on 1.5.2012 seeking information about a missing loan file revealed in regular inspection of B.O., Nehoni on 15.2.2010, along with other information, including about managers posted in that branch during 4.7.2009 to 7.1.2012. In all, information was sought on six points. The CPIO, while providing information to the appellant on certain points on 2.6.2012, denied information on other matters under section 8(1)(d), section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; and 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 2005.
2. Not satisfied with the reply of PIO, the appellant filed an appeal on 22.6.2012 with the first appellate authority (FAA). The FAA upheld the reply of PIO on 10.7.2012. The appellant approached the Commission on 14.8.2012 in second appeal.
3. The appellant and the respondent both participated in the hearing through video conferencing.
4. The appellant referred to his RTI application of 1.5.2012 and stated that the respondent had given only partial information and that he was expecting the bank to provide him complete information on all the points mentioned in his RTI application pointwise.
5. The respondent stated that the RTI application has been responded to on 2.6.2012 and subsequently the FAA had also responded on 10.7.2012. The respondent, by way of background, stated that at the point of time when the RTI application was filed, there was a departmental inquiry pending against the appellant who happens to be an officer in the bank. The respondent said that now since the departmental proceeding is over on 24.7.2013, the relevance of the RTI application is not there, and also because whatever information could have been provided, that has already made available.
6. The respondent further stated that at a certain point of time, the appellant was in the Inspection Department of the bank and in that capacity, was the custodian of the file and the inspection report that is being sought. But now since the appellant has moved away from that assignment, the bank felt that it would not be right to show the documents to an outside person. The respondent said that now because the departmental proceeding is also over, the relevance of showing or not showing the file is also not there. The respondent said that in any case, whatever information could have been given, was provided except that covered under the exemption from disclosure clauses of the RTI Act.
7. What has emerged from the hearing is that the matter of a missing loan file pertains to one of the charges and the appellant had been cleared of that charge. With regard to the information sought in point 1 of the RTI application, the respondent stated that this is a matter of commercial confidence and there are many other documents in this report which it would not be right to provide. The respondent also stated that the larger matter of departmental proceedings that had triggered this RTI application has been concluded. The respondent stated that the appellant had been provided whatever documents were required to be provided.
8. It is apparent that the RTI Act cannot be used to circumvent the procedures pertaining to the bank’s departmental proceedings. It appears that the CPIO’s reply of 2.6.2012 is in conformity with the RTI Act and no intervention of the Commission is required.
9. The decision of the FAA is upheld. The appeal is disposed of. Copy of the decision be given free of cost to both the parties.
Citation: Shri Bhim Singh v. Haryana Gramin Bank in Decision No. CIC/VS/A/2012/001308/04430