CIC – Diciplinary Action to be disclosed

Central Information Commission

File No.CIC/SM/C/ 2009/000161 & CIC/SM/A/2009/ 000803

Right to Information Act-2005-Under Section (19)

Dated: 11 December 2009

Name of the Appellant : Shri Deshbandhu Marwah
E – 2367, Palam Vihar,
Gurgaon, Haryana – 122 017.

Name of the Public Authority
: CPIO, State Bank of Mysore,
Head Office, P.B.No.9727,
Mysore Bank Circle,
Kempegowda Road,
Bangalore – 560 009.

The Appellant was present in person.

On behalf of the Respondent, the following were present:-

(i) Shri Kamath
(ii) Shri Rao

The Appellant has filed two separate appeal cases against the orders of the first Appellate Authority. We have decided to club these cases together for hearing.

2. In two separate applications dated June 10 and November 20, 2008,the Appellant had requested the CPIO for copies of a number of documents relating to the action taken on his communication dated 19 September 2007, all notes/recommendatio ns/reports sent by the AGM/DGM to the Head Office and all notes/recommendatio n reports submitted by Shri Rama Prasad and others to the Managing Director. He also sought permission for inspecting all the records and files relating to the disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Bank against Shri A.K.Gupta. The CPIO replied on July 8, 2008 and December 22, 2008 respectively, by and large, declining the information. The Appellant had moved the first Appellate Authority in both the cases which the Appellate Authority disposed of in his respective orders dated September 5, 2008 and January 31, 2009. The Appellant has come to the Central Information Commission in second appeal against these orders.

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3. We heard the cases through videoconferencing. The Appellant was
present in our chamber in Delhi whereas the Respondents were present
in the Bangalore Studio of the NIC. The Appellant submitted that none
of the information sought by him would fall in the exemption
categories and should have been provided to him. He also clarified at
the outset that he had inadvertently mentioned his application to be
dated 19 September 2007, while it was actually dated 10 September
2007. The Respondent, on the other hand, argued that all the
information sought by him would fall in the category of personal
information the disclosure of which had no relationship with any
public activity or interest and if disclosed can cause unwarranted
invasion of the privacy of the person concerned, namely, Shri A.K.
Gupta. Besides, they also argued that since the CBI had been
investigating into this matter and that the Bank had also filed an
application before the DRT for recovery of its dues, the disclosure of
the information might impede those proceedings and, therefore, such
information should not be disclosed as exempt under Section 8(1)(h) of
the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Respondent also referred to a
decision of this Commission in the Appeal No. CIC/PB/A/2008/ 00453-SM
dated 16.12.2008 in which the Commission had directed that whenever
any matter was pending before a court of law, the information related
to that case should be obtained form the relevant court and not under
the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

4. After hearing all the above submissions and arguments of the
Respondents and after carefully examining the contents of the second
appeal filed before the Central Information Commission, we are of the
view that the CPIO/ Appellate Authority and the Respondent have
seriously erred in invoking the provisions of Section 8(1)(h) and (j)
in this case in denying the information to the Appellant. The files
and records relating to the disciplinary proceedings instituted by the
Bank against Shri A.K. Gupta, an officer of the Bank can never fall in
the category of personal information. After all, the Public Authority
had instituted the disciplinary proceedings against him for alleged
misconduct and violation of prescribed rules and regulations.
Admittedly, such enquiries are initiated in public interest. Once the
enquiry is over and the competent authority has passed his final
orders, by no stretch of imagination, the records and files of the
disciplinary proceedings can be denied by claiming it to be personal
information merely because the proceedings are against an individual
employee. Since the disciplinary proceedings are regarding the public
conduct/misconduct of an employee of the Public Authority, all the
records and files in this regard are public records and have to be
disclosed subject of course to other exemptions of the RTI Act.

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5. The decision of this Commission in the case as stated by the
Respondent has no relationship to the present cases, as the
circumstances are totally different. None of the information sought by
the Appellant in these cases is the subject matter of the proceedings
pending before Courts or Tribunals. In any case, there is nothing in
the Right to Information (RTI) Act which exempts the disclosure of any
information merely because a related matter is pending in a court of
law. Similarly, Section 8(1)(h) cited by the CPIO in one of his
replies is hardly attracted in this case as the disciplinary
proceedings are over and the competent authority has passed his
orders.

6. In the light of the above, we completely disagree with the
arguments of the CPIO and the Appellate Authority in denying the
information. We, therefore, direct the CPIO to permit the Appellant to
inspect all the relevant files and documents related to the
disciplinary proceedings against Shri A.K. Gupta on a mutually
convenient date at the Bank’s office at New Delhi within 15 working
days from the receipt of this order. We also direct him to provide
certified photocopies of all the documents/records and reports sought
by him especially in his application dated June 10, 2008. The
compliance of our order be reported to us immediately thereafter.

7. The cases are thus disposed off.
8. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.

(Satyananda Mishra)
Information Commissioner

Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO of this Commission.

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(Vijay Bhalla)
Assistant Registrar

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