Information regarding disciplinary action seeking various stages of advice - CIC: There is no third party information; It is immaterial that Appellant was provided with the documents alongwith the charge sheet; Appellant has the right to seek it under RTI
The Appellant sought information through 6 points regarding disciplinary action taken against him by Punjab and Sind Bank vide order dated 17.11.2016 in terms of copies of application received from CVO of the bank seeking various stages of advice.
Grounds for the Second Appeal:
The CPIO has not provided the desired information on paras (i), (iii) and (v) of the RTI Application.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Not present.
Respondent: Jetha Nand Chopra, Advisor & CPIO and S.V. Krishnan, SO, Central Vigilance Commission, Satarkta Bhawan, G.P.O Complex, Block A, INA, New Delhi present in person.
CPIO submitted at the outset that he will provide the relevant information to the Appellant on paras (i), (iii) and (v) of the RTI Application but the Commission may allow liberty of obliterating the portions which pertain to third parties. He further submitted that as such Appellant has been provided with all these documents as when the chargesheet was issued to him. Upon Commission’s instance as to who these third parties were, CPIO submitted that since the applications and enclosures received from CVO of Punjab & Sind Bank for seeking the advices contain references of other officials/ex-officials of the bank, same is deemed personal in nature. Commission clarified as to whether ex-officials/officials imply that the documents pertain to action taken against other employees of the bank as well, to this, CPIO responded in negative and stated that the enclosures to the application contain information pertaining to the bank.
Commission also remarked that it is immaterial to the proceedings of the instant matter that Appellant was provided with these documents alongwith the charge sheet, as Appellant is well within his right to seek the same information under RTI Act. It was also noted that although intent of the applicants in seeking information under RTI Act cannot be questioned but in such cases, it is apparent that Appellants seek to verify if the documents shown to be relied upon by the CVO during investigation of disciplinary cases are same as the ones that are sent to CVC.
Commission observes from the perusal of facts on record as well as the submissions of the CPIO that the denial of information on paras (i), (iii) and (v) of the RTI Application 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 RTI Act is unwarranted. It is clear beyond reasonable doubt that the documents pertain to action taken only against the Appellant, in the process, if the action is based on documents of the bank as well as of the accounts in respect of which disciplinary action was initiated against the Appellant; the same ought to be provided to him. Further, CPIO has not been able to substantiate as to what personal information of third parties is contained in the applications and its enclosures.
In view of the foregoing, Commission rejects the contentions of the CPIO and directs him to provide available and relevant information as sought at paras (i), (iii) and (v) of the RTI Application to the Appellant free of cost within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. A compliance report to this effect be duly sent to the Commission by the CPIO. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Divya Prakash Sinha
Citation: Gurdeep Singh v. Central Vigilance Commission in File No : CIC/CVCOM/A/2017/170016/SD, Date of Decision : 14/05/2019