The government has declined to share information on complaints of sexual harassment against IAS officers, saying it was exempted from disclosure.
The Ministry of Personnel has cited a Supreme Court judgement, instead of any clause of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, to deny information in response to a query filed under the transparency law.
It may be noted in terms of Supreme Court decision in the matter of Girish R Deshpande versus Central Information Commission and others, the information being sought "is exempt from disclosure", said the reply from the ministry, mandated to ensure implementation of the RTI Act.
The Ministry was asked to provide details on complaints of sexual harassment received against officers of all India services-- comprising Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS)-- in the last ten years.
However, the Supreme Court order mentioned in the reply does not deal with the cases of sexual harassment.
The apex court, while hearing a petition filed by Deshpande, had on October 3, last year held that information including copies of memos, show cause notices and orders of censure or punishment etc. issued to a government employee qualifies to be personal information.
Besides, the details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are also "personal information" which stand exempted from disclosure, the court has said in its order.
The CIC on various occasions has held that information on sexual harassment cases can be provided under the transparency law as it comes under human rights violation category.
As many as 4,737 IAS officers, 3,637 IPS officers and 2,700 IFoS personnel are working across the country.