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RTI Cases – Whether Service Book of a Government Employee could be supplied when called for under RTI?
This question if gets an answer as ‘yes’ may sound a bit weird and unwarranted in employee’s point of view as nobody would like supply of personal records to public.
Of Course there is sense in employee’s case in this issue as Service book of an Government Employee contains very important information about his/her service including disciplinary proceedings taken against him/her.
More seriously, Service Book of a Government Employee would also contain certain personal information such as nominees, present health status, whether undergone any family planning procedures etc., which could be misused against an employee by unscrupulous elements under the cover of RTI.
However, Central Information Commission has decided in a case recently which came for appeal that PIO to supply a copy of the service record of employee under RTI after invoking Sec.10(1) of the RTI Act to sever all those portions that are exempt from disclosure u/s 8(1)(j) of the Act as personal information.
An Extract of order portion in this case is as follows.
“The Commission however, holds that the Public Authority is obligated under section 4(1)(b) the RTI Act to disclose information related to the service of its employees and is not convinced by Shri D’Costa’s argument that such disclosure will endanger his physical safety as all this information is anyway expected to be placed in the public domain.
The Commission accordingly directs the PIO to supply a copy of the service record of Shri Allan D’Costa to the Appellant after invoking Sec.10(1) of the RTI Act to sever all those portions that are exempt from disclosure u/s 8(1)(j) of the Act as personal information. The information should reach the Appellant within four weeks of receipt of this order.”
Though CIC ruling contains a rider for safeguarding private information of a Government employee out of purview of RTI, officials who actually supply information under RTI may find it difficult to differentiate between public and private information related to an employee. In the process, RTI information seeker with profit or malicious motive could sneak in with private information of Government employees.
We hope Government would come up with a meaningful classification of public and private information of a Government Employee and notifiy the same for effective implementation at lower level, which could find an effective soultion to this issue