New Delhi: In a major decision that could spark privacy versus transparency debate, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said the service details of a
public servant are not confidential and can be provided to an RTI applicant.
The country`s top watchdog had earlier taken out property details and income tax returns of public servants from the ambit of confidentiality which has been challenged in the Delhi High Court.
The CIC`s decision came while hearing the plea of an RTI applicant who had sought from the Railways the service book details of the Chief Law Assistant. The applicant also sought to know if the post of Chief Law Assistant at the Chittaranjan Loco works was a tenure post.
The application was rejected by the Public Information Officer saying the information contained in the service book of a public servant is personal and exempted from disclosure under the section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act.
"The Commission holds that service details of public servants available in service books cannot be treated as personal information," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit held.
She, however, ordered the disclosure of the service book after severing records which may be personal and exempted from disclosure under the provisions of the RTI Act.
The section cited by the Public Information Officer exempts information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which
would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual.
However, if Central 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 then it can be provided.