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Rajesh D. Bindra Vs. CPIO, M/o. Finance, Department of Revenue - (Central Information Commission) (09 Aug 2017)

Entire process of grant of promotion to the eligible officials should be carried out in a completely transparent and objective manner


Right to Information

In present case, the Appellant sought information regarding details of total vacancies created in the cadre of Group 'A' (Assistant Commissioner), details of total vacancies filled in regular promotion and after giving reservation benefit in the promotion in cadre of Group 'A' (Assistant Commissioner) as per Cadre Restructuring of Central Excise and Customs notification/scheme in 2014-2015 in Western Zone for General and Reserved Category. The CPIO and Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, CBEC, vide its letter provided a point wise response stating on point (i) that details of vacancy created and allotted were available on the website of CBEC. As regards point (ii) to (iv), it was stated that the promotion was made as per Recruitment Rules of All India Basis and not Zone Wise. Dissatisfied by the response of the CPIO, Appellant approached the FAA. FAA, vide its order, concurred with reply of CPIO.

The Commission observed that, under provisions of RTI Act, 2005, only such information as is available and existing and held by the public authority or is under control of public authority can be provided. The PIO is not supposed to create information that is not a part of the record. He is also not required to interpret information or furnish replies to hypothetical questions. Similarly, redressal of grievance, reasons for non compliance of rules/contesting the actions of the Respondent public authority are outside the purview of Act.

It was however, noted that in a sensitive and significant issue relating to promotion and reservations, due diligence needs to be exercised by Respondent Public Authority and entire exercise of grant of promotion to the eligible officials should be carried out in a completely transparent and objective manner. The list of eligible candidates should necessarily be displayed on its website including the policies, rules, norms and procedures adopted for holding the DPC, the conduct of DPC proceedings etc. to provide reasonable opportunity for each category of employees to know about the manner in which the whole exercise had been executed.

The Commission observed that, information sought by Appellant pertaining to number of vacancies created in the cadre of Group-A (Assistant Commissioners), details of vacancies filled on regular promotion, grant of benefit of reservation in this cadre, file notings etc, ought to be suo motu disclosed on the website of the public authority in order to promote openness and transparency in its working.

The Commission referred to the decision of Supreme Court in case of CBSE & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors wherein it had observed that, right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under Clause (b) of Section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption".

Commission directed Respondent to furnish all the details of the information sought by the Appellant including minutes of the DPC, within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. The Commission also advised the Respondent Public Authority that in the larger public interest and in the light of the aforesaid decisions of the Hon'ble Courts, Respondent Public Authority should post details of total vacancies created in the cadre of Group 'A' (Assistant Commissioner), details of total vacancies filled in regular promotion, minutes of the DPC, etc on its website to facilitate dissemination of information to the public at large. The compassionate appointment policy and its implementation should be suo-moto disclosed and placed on its website to obviate any reason for suspicion or suspense. Thus, suo moto disclosure of all such information in compliance with Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005 should be made to ensure transparency, objectivity and accountability in the functioning of the Public Authority.


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