Inspection of documents regarding promotion to the grade of Principal Director of Armed Force Hqrs Civil Service - CIC: The matter relating to disclosure of ACC note is subjudice in Delhi High Court; it would be judicious to wait for the final outcome
1. Shri Gopal Krishan filed an application dated 15.01.2015 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Department of Personnel & Training seeking (i) opportunity to inspect F. Nos. 12/53/2012EO( SMII_) and 118/18/2014SM. OII and also files, if any, wherein the Prime Minister had issued directions (a) while considering the empanelment of officers for promotion to the grade of Principal Director (PD) of Armed Force Headquarters Civil Service for the panel year 2012-13 and (b) while considering the recommendation of DPC to issue clarificatory instructions to remove ambiguity, if any, in enforcing the earlier ACC directions that all eligible officers under the zone of consideration should necessarily be assessed by the DPC for promotion even if the officer may be retiring before the occurrence of the vacancies in the panel year and (ii) see the record maintained in Estt. (D) Desk according to the Manual of Office Procedure to keep track of the follow up action taken on the papers like I.D. Note dated 4th September, 2012.
2. The appellant filed second appeal dated 12.08.2015 before the Commission on the ground that despite the direction of the P.M., DOPT is not including the names of those found suitable for appointment as Directors, and requested the Commission to issue suitable direction to the CPIO for supplying him the information requested for.
3. The appellant Shri Gopal Krishan and the respondent Shri Arvind Thakur, CPIO and Under Secretary, DOPT were present in person.
4. The appellant submitted that he had sought inspection of ACC file nos. 12/53/2012EO (SM.II) and 18/18/2014EO (SM.II) wherein the Prime Minister had issued directions that all eligible officer under the zone of consideration should be assessed for promotion even if the officer may be retiring before the occurrence of the vacancies. However, the respondent has denied inspection of the files on the plea that the files form part of Cabinet papers and hence, are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(i) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; of the RTI Act.
5. The respondent submitted that the issue of disclosure of ACC notes is pending before the Division Bench of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in LPA no. 347/2010. The Hon’ble High Court had stayed the previous decision of the CIC for disclosing the ACC notes to RTI applicants. The stay granted by Hon’ble High Court is still inforce. The respondent submitted that in the above mentioned LPA the following issues have been raised in their pleadings:
(i) As to whether the records of deliberations of Appointment of Committee of Cabinet which comprises of Prime Minister and Two Cabinet Minister, namely, Home Minister and concerned cabinet Minister could be disclosed even if the process of appointment is over?
(ii) As to whether the records of Appointment of Cabinet Committee which contains the deliberations of Cabinet Secretary and other officers can be disclosed completely ignoring the proviso which speaks for the disclosure of only the information i.e. the decision of the Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof and the material on the basis of which, the decisions were taken.
6. In view of above, it would be judicious to await the final outcome of the pending matter.
7. The Commission heard the submissions of both the parties and perused the records. The Commission is of the view that since the matter relates to disclosure of ACC note and is subjudice in the High Court of Delhi, it would be judicious to await the final outcome of the pending matter in the High Court of Delhi.
8. Copy of decision be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Gopal Krishan v. Department of Personnel & Training in Decision No.CIC/SB/A/2015/000229/SB