4 Sep 2008, 0424 hrs IST,TNN
LUCKNOW: Government employees can seek information regarding the annual entries assigned to them, and the departments can not deny information to them under section 8(1)(J) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act as it is not 'personal' information. 'Personal' information, as defined in the Act, is the one which is about a third party and not the person who is seeking it.
The observation has been made by state information commission (SIC) in a case concerning one Om Prakash Verma who had sought information about the annual entry about him when he was the chief revenue officer of Bahraich between July 24, 2004 and March 19, 2005. He had submitted his application to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Personnel department, UP, on April 8, 2008.
However, Verma was refused information by the personnel department, under section (8) of the RTI Act. Their reply to his application, sent on April 23 also referred to the Sep 25, 2006 order of Central Information Commission (CIC), and stated that "since Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) themselves according to us are barred from disclosure, we hold that by inference, DPC proceedings would be similarly barred."
After being refused the information, Verma had filed a complaint with the State Information Commission (SIC) which conducted a hearing into the matter on August 25. The PIO of the said department had also mentioned that since the information sought by Verma 'is about a person' and serves no public interest, the public authority is not bound to provide the information, under section 8 A(J).
Contrary to the view of personnel department, the applicant had referred to May 12, 2008 order of the Supreme Court which observed that "every entry (and not merely a poor or adverse entry) relating to an employee under the state or the instrumentality of the state, whether in civil, judicial, police or other service (except the military) must be communicated to him, within a reasonable period and it makes no difference whether there is a bench mark or not." If an employee is not informed about the entries assigned to him, it is the violation of Article 14 of the constitution.
However, the commission, observed that the information sought by Verma is not personal information, as mentioned in the Act.
Secondly, the applicant is also not needed to mention the public interest that the information sought by him would serve. It has thus ordered the department of personnel that the applicant should be provided with the information within 15 days.