Information regarding various loans sanctioned by the bank, certain rules & regulations of the bank as well as on some service matters concerning the Appellant - CIC: Provide a certified copy of the rules governing sabbatical and sick leave of employees
This matter, pertaining to an RTI application filed by the Appellant, seeking information on nine points and several sub-points regarding various loans sanctioned by the bank, certain rules and regulations of the bank; as well as on some service matters concerning the Appellant, came up today. The CPIO had responded pointwise to the RTI application. Not satisfied with his reply, the Appellant filed an appeal to the First Appellate Authority on 2.9.2014, in which he expressed his dissatisfaction with the reply of the CPIO to a number of points of the RTI application. The FAA, vide his order dated 30.9.2014, upheld the CPIO’s reply. Aggrieved with the decision of the Respondents, the Appellant has approached the CIC in second appeal, in which he has prayed that the information sought by him be provided and that the bank should withdraw the “baseless” disciplinary action initiated against him after he had filed his RTI application.
2. The Appellant stated that he is an employee of the bank and an explanation was sought from him in January 2016 in respect of certain matters. He alleged that there was a fraud in respect of 2361 loan accounts, amounting to over Rs. 700 crores. Since his explanation has been sought in respect of the above case, he cannot be regarded a third party to the loan cases in question. The Appellant further submitted that the information sought by him should be disclosed in larger public interest. In response to our query, he confirmed that he is dissatisfied in respect of the reply of the CPIO regarding only those points of the RTI application, that are mentioned in his appeal to the FAA. He claimed that the bank started action against him after his filing of the RTI application.
3. The Respondents stated that the entire matter concerning the alleged fraud was looked into by a committee at the Zonal Office. The committee, after considering the explanations of various officials of the bank, has forwarded its report to the Head Office and the matter remains under investigation.
4. We have considered the records and the submissions of both the parties and note that the information sought at the points of the RTI application, mentioned by the Appellant in his appeal to the FAA, falls in the following three categories:
(a) Information concerning certain accounts in the bank. The CPIO provided the number of accounts in some cases, but denied the remaining information under Section 8 (1) (d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act.
(b) Information of a general nature concerning rules and regulations etc.
(c) Information concerning some service matters of the Appellant.
5. In so far as the information mentioned at (a) in the preceding paragraph is concerned, we note that it pertains to the accounts of third party customers and is, therefore, exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act. The Appellant claims this information on the ground that his explanation has been sought in a matter of alleged fraud concerning the accounts in question. This matter, we note, is still under investigation of the bank authorities. Therefore, providing the information to the Appellant who is one of the officials, who are being investigated in the matter, would not be desirable as in our view, it would interfere with and impede the process of investigation. Therefore, the disclosure of this information also attracts exemption under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act. The Appellant will have ample opportunity to ask for the documents desired by him, as the investigation / enquiry process moves forward. Therefore, the information mentioned at (a) in the preceding paragraph cannot be disclosed to the Appellant.
6. With regard to the information mentioned at (b) in paragraph 4 above, we direct the CPIO to provide to the Appellant the information of a general nature sought by him at the following points of the RTI application, subject to its availability on the records of the bank: 1.7, 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 5.9.8. The CPIO should provide the above information, free of charge, within twenty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
7. As regards the information mentioned at (c) in paragraph 4 above, we note that at points No. 6 and 7, the Appellant has sought information concerning the action taken on his application for sabbatical leave and another application for sick leave. In these two cases, the CPIO is directed to provide to the Appellant a certified copy of the rules and regulations of the bank governing sabbatical and sick leave of employees. The CPIO should also facilitate inspection by the Appellant of the records concerning the processing of his above applications by the authorities. At point No. 8, the Appellant has sought information regarding release of rent for leased quarters to him. The CPIO is further directed to facilitate inspection by the Appellant of the records vide which his request for release of rent was acted upon. The CPIO should comply with our above directives, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. After the inspections, the Appellant should be given photocopies of up to fifty pages of the inspected records, desired by him, free of charge. Photocopies, if any, desired by him beyond the above number, should be given against payment of the prescribed photocopying charges.
8. The information sought at point No. 9 is essentially in the nature of seeking an explanation from the CPIO regarding the transfer of the Appellant from a particular department. In our view such queries do not fall within the ambit of information as defined in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. Further, the Commission is not competent to grant the prayer of the Appellant to direct the Respondents to withdraw the disciplinary action against him.
9. With the above directions and observations, the appeal is disposed of.
10. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Shiv Kumar Chaudhari v. Bank of Maharashtra in File No. CIC/MP/A/2015/900178/SH