RTI activist denied info on officers facing corruption charges | punjab | Hindustan Times
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RTI activist denied info on officers facing corruption charges

punjab Updated: Dec 31, 2013 10:03 IST
Sat Singh

In a direct attempt to shield “corrupt” government officers, the chief secretary office and deputy secretary to government of Haryana have denied parting with information sought through the Right to Information Act regarding the IAS and HCS officers, who faced charges of corruption during the past 13 years.

Subhash, who goes by first name only, an RTI activist from Rohtak and state convener of Haryana Suchna Adhikar Manch, has sought information from the chief secretary regarding details of government officers — IAS, IPS, IRS, HCS and HPS officers — who had faced corruption charges from January 1, 2000, to October, 31, 2013, under the Right to Information Act.

He had demanded information regarding the action taken against such officers by the government and how many were promoted or demoted by the competent authority after corruption charges appeared against them.

Surprisingly, in the reply, the chief secretary office said, “The application in respect of IAS and HCS officers, is personal in nature, and is exempted under the provisions of Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act.”

It further said the performance of an employee/employer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules, which fall under the expression “personal information” the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. “On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual.”

Subhash said he filed another application to first appellant authority — state public information officer-cum-deputy secretary to government of Haryana, but failed to get info as the authority there also termed the disclosure of “corrupt” officers’ names and action against them is a private matter between employee and employer.

Raising suspicion, the RTI activist said how giving info about the officers who have faced corruption charges, jailed and their names published by media can be a breach of rules under the Right to Information Act. He said he had filed a complaint against both the government agencies in the state information commissioner to take suitable action for shielding the “corrupt” officers in the name of privacy.

What is RTI Act’s section says
The information, which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: provided that the information, which cannot be denied to Parliament or a state legislature, shall not be denied to any person.

Expert opinion
Amit Chaudhary, a Kurukshetra-based expert on the RTI Act, said withholding the information about corrupt government officials under Section 8(1)(j) defeats the very purpose of introducing the RTI Act in public domain. Other experts said it was quite ironic that information of the misconduct of a government officer caused to public at the cost of public money was not being shared citing flimsy ground of invasion of privacy of the individual.