The reason for which an officer with neurological disorder had been retained by then public authority was sought - CIC cannot sit in judgment over whether an officer with an illness or disability should be retained in employment; exempt u/s 8 (1) (j)
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 5.11.2013 filed by the Complainant, seeking information on five points regarding an officer of the Respondents. He filed a complaint dated 4.4.2014 to the CIC, praying for directions to the CPIO to provide the information sought by him and imposition of penalty on the CPIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act.
2. The Respondents reiterated the CPIO’s decision, endorsed by the FAA, to deny the information under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. We note that in his RTI application dated 5.1.2013, the Complainant had stated that the officer, about whom information was sought, was unable to carry out his official duties for the last three years and there were a large number of complaints regarding his inefficiency. In the above context, he raised the following issues:
Why has the officer been retained in his job by the Respondents?
Complete details of the disciplinary action taken by the Respondents against him over the last fifteen years.
The losses suffered by the Respondents due to the inefficiency and misconduct of the officer in question.
Names and designations of the officers under whose protection the officer in question continues to remain in the employment of the Respondents.
What is the retention policy of the organization for employees like the officer in question.
3. The Respondents submitted that the officer, about whom information was sought, suffers from a neurological disorder. They repeated that the information sought by the Complainant was denied under Section 8 (1) (j).
4. We have considered the records and the submissions made by the Respondents before us. This Commission cannot sit in judgment over whether an officer with an illness or disability should be retained in its employment by a public authority or not. That is a decision best left to the public authority concerned. In so far as the RTI application is concerned, in one of the queries, the Complainant has asked for the reason because of which the officer in question has been retained in their employment by the Respondents. This query is in the nature of seeking an explanation from the CPIO and does not fall within the ambit of information as defined in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. Further, information has also been sought regarding disciplinary action taken against the officer and losses etc. caused by him to the Respondents. In this context, we note the following observation made by the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 3.10.2012 in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & Ors.:“ We are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information”, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.” Therefore, even if it is assumed that disciplinary action was taken against the officer concerned by the Respondents, information concerning the same is covered by Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. Further, the query at 4 (d) of the RTI application proceeds from an assumption by the Complainant that the officer in question has been retained in employment because of the protection granted by some officers of the Respondents. The Commission has no reason to believe that the officer in question has been retained in employment because of the protection granted by some officer of the Respondents as against an objective assessment made by the public authority. The information sought by the Complainant in his RTI application dated 5.11.2013 is the personal information of the officer in question and exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. The Complainant has not established any larger public interest for its disclosure to him.
5. In view of the foregoing, we see no merit in this complaint and it is dismissed.
6. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Sanjay Agrawal v. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000207