New Delhi: The information with regard to complaints made against any officer and action taken on it are "personal" in nature and cannot be made public under Right to Information (RTI) Act, the government has said.
"The Central Information Commission in one of its decisions has held that information about the complaints made against an officer of the government and any possible action the authorities might have taken on those complaints, qualifies as personal information within the meaning of provision of Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act," the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said in a recently issued circular.
The Section bars disclosure of information 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.
However, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person, the rule says.
The Central Information Commission while deciding the case of Manoj Arya, a Delhi resident who had sought to know details of complaint made against a government official, has also cited a decision of Supreme Court to support its stand.
"The performance of an employee or officer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and the 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 could cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of that individual," the DoPT circular said quoting cited the apex court verdict.
The Supreme Court further held that such information could be disclosed only if it would serve a larger public interest, it said.
"This may be brought to the notice of all concerned," said the order issued on August 14 by Manoj Joshi, Joint Secretary, DoPT.
However, the office memorandum is learnt to have been issued by the DoPT following RTI applications seeking information related to controversial suspension of Durga Sakthi Nagpal, a 2010 batch IAS officer, by Uttar Pradesh government, official sources say.
Nagpal, who had cracked down on sand mining mafia active in Gautam Budh Nagar district of the state, was suspended on July 27 ostensibly for ordering demolition of a wall of an under-construction mosque without following the due process.