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Application & qualification certificate submitted by applicant for employment is personal information: CIC


MANOJ B. PATEL

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MANOJ B. PATEL

Appellant had sought information about applications and educational qualification submitted by applicants for employment in post department. CPIO denied u/s 8(1)(j).

 

Commission observed that; application and qualification certificate submitted by applicant in connection of his employment is in nature of personal information and can not be brought in public domain.

 

Commission also warned the CPIO to exercise due care for future to ensure that the correct and complete information is furnished timely to the applicant/s.

 

 

This is very good at least CPIO is warned by the Commission!

 

Is this a correct decision?

CIC_BS_A_2014_001718_8105_M_159296.pdf

Edited by MANOJ B. PATEL
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RAVEENA_O

Recruitment is a public activity. All documents pertaining to recruitment, submitted by prospective candidates, are part of that public activity. The public authority has considered the suitability of each candidate on objectivity, based on such documents produced before the Recruitment Authority. Therefore, such documents have direct relation to the public activity being executed by the Recruiting authority. Since large number of candidates are notified and participated in the recruitment process, it involves public interest also.

 

The construction of Section-8(1)(j) is that "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.

 

Mere perusal of the Section-8(1)(j) would reveal that this clause can be invoked to deny only those personal information which has no relationship to any public activity or interest OR which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of individual. In this case, recruitment is unequivocally a public activity having public interest. Therefore, the educational qualification documents produced before the recruitment authority in response to the public activity of recruitment cannot be denied by invoking the provisions of Section-8(1)(j). Since the recruitment itself involve larger public interest, as also exemption under Sec-8(1)(j) is not attracted, there is no question of exception by applying larger public interest.

 

Educational, professional and higher qualifications are traditionally considered as a matter of pride in our society and each one of us add our qualification/degrees after our name. Degrees and higher qualifications are conferred in a convocation function with public celebration. Conferral of higher qualifications like Ph.D etc are published in news papers and gazettes.

 

In the public activity of recruitment, the essential and desirable qualifications of the prospective candidates are notified for public knowledge and information. Neither the qualification nor the certificate indicating such qualification are therefore secret. When the qualification as a criteria is notified for public knowledge, response received against such notification is in public domain and it cannot attract privacy and documents pertaining to such qualification cannot qualify for exemption under Section-8(1)(j).

 

The Information Commission totally failed to give reasons as to how disclosure of educational qualification of a candidate selected for public service shall affect his privacy. Mere recital of the word 'privacy' in itself cannot become basis for granting exemption to an information which is openly conferred to an individual and therefore cannot qualify for exemption from disclosure.

 

Thus, such qualifications of candidates, when subjected to selection process, cannot suddenly creep into the secret arena of privacy.

 

Any such claim of privacy and denial is made only to hide malpractices and favoritism involved in selection process. There is no justified reason to deny such documents. The commission therefore erred in denying the documents. The commission also failed to give reasons as to how disclosure of such an information shall invade the privacy of the individual especially when the essential qualification required for recruitment to the post is pre-notified.

 

The Central Information Commission has arrived at an erroneous conclusion that the educational qualification certificates submitted by applicants in connection with their employment are in the nature of personal information relating to third party(s). The decision is unfounded and not based on sound and justified reasoning. Hence, the decision cannot stand scrutiny of law and required to be challenged before the High Court.

Edited by RAVEENA_O
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Prasad GLN

A decision is a decision, and likely to be taken as precedent by other ICs. Infact, there are several hundreds of decisions delivered with out application of mind and the decision may vary from IC to IC from PA to PA or from appellant to Appellant though issue is one and the same.

I do not know whether taking a decision given earlier can be treated as precedent by subsequent ICs and they have under obligation to deliver such decision on the basis of a precedent.

Unfortunately, for every simple reason, appellants can not go to HC and IC is aware of that and even when Appellant goes, it is another Shark and another pan to fire attempt.

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RAVEENA_O

Judicial discipline necessitates that the decisions given by a coordinate bench or higher judiciary must be respected and at the same time, if they find a different set of reasoning, accordingly arrive at cogent conclusion and set new precedent. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that in Information Commission.

 

Elaborate reasoning is brought out here for alert citizens to challenge such unreasonable and unjustified decisions before court of law on these grounds.

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