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Enquiry Report


nikhilkhanna88

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nikhilkhanna88

The applicant (complainant) employee of an organization made complaint against other employee of the same organization regarding ill treatment.

The applicant (complainant) has now asked for enquiry report along with statements of defense from both sides under RTI ACT.

Whether this information can be provided or not?

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Prasad GLN

It is not clear whether that organisation is a Public Authority or not. Even if it is not Public Authority, "principals of natural justice' must prevail in every conduct, and affected party has a right to demand for such documents that are necessary to prove his innocence of that charge. However if it is a Public Authority , PIO may state that providing of information may impede the progress of investigation, and the alleged may threaten/influence the witnesses but he should establish that exemption and not merely denying information quoting such exemption.

Every individual must get opportunity as a right and he will certainly receive the documents on which the charge is based.

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As I understand the post, in this case the complainant sought copy of inquiry report, findings and evidences.

 

The inquiry report and its findings and evidences etc are a matter between the employer and the employee and has not relation to any public activity and hence personal information and qualified for exemption under Sec-8(1)(j) of the Act, as held by Hon'ble Supreme court in the case of Girish Deshpande. Don't supply such information generated by the department to the complainant in such cases.

 

However, in the case of complaints lodged by female employees against male employees regarding sexual harassment in work place, the complainant is entitled to receive a copy of inquiry report and findings and has a right to appeal against such findings drawn by the constituted committee. In such cases, thee Committee must follow the provisions of SHWW Act.

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If complainant [irrespective whether he is employee or not of same organisation] seeks action taken report or enquiry report on his complaint, he as citizen has to be provided as per following decisions of Central Information Commission:

 

CIC/RM/C/2014/900171/SB/ dated 17-08-2015

CIC/AD/A/2013/001206SA-CIC/AD/A/2013/001207SA dated 11-06-14

CIC/DS/A/2011/003790/VS/01583 dated 20-12-12

 

Even if matter pertains to SIC, as per principle of precedence, above decisions will be binding on SIC.

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Prasad GLN

The presumption is that applicant is himself a complainant as per TP

The applicant (complainant) employee of an organization made complaint against other employee of the same organization regarding ill treatment.

The applicant (complainant) has now asked for enquiry report along with statements of defense from both sides under RTI ACT.

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The question whether the Central Information Commissioner acting under the Right to Information Act, 2005 was right in denying information regarding the personal matters pertaining to service career on the ground that the information sought for was qualified to be “personal information” as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, came up before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Girish Deshpande Vs CIC. In that case, CIC had held that the information which has been denied to the appellant essentially falls in two parts – (i) relating to the personal matters pertaining to service career; and (ii) Shri Lute’s assets and liabilities, movable and immovable properties and other financial aspects and further held that this information qualifies to be the ‘personal information’ as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act and the appellant has not been able to convince the Commission that disclosure thereof is in larger public interest.

 

Said decision of CIC was challenged before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. Hon'ble Supreme Court, while dismissing the said petition vide order dt: 03/10/2012 had held that the performance of an employee/officer in an organization 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 would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed, but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right. It was further held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court that the petitioner in the referred case has not made a bona fide public interest in seeking information, the disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

 

It is pertinent to note that the Learned counsel for Petitioner made submissions before the Hon'ble Supreme Court that the privacy appended to Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act widens the scope of documents warranting disclosure and if those provisions are properly interpreted, it could not be said that documents pertaining to employment of a person holding the post of enforcement officer could be treated as documents having no relationship to any public activity or interest. It is under these contentions and prayer that the Hon'ble Supreme Court interpreted the scope of the term 'Personal Information' in above judgment.

 

The interpretation made by the Apex Court is binding. If the RTI Applicant has not brought out any larger public interest in seeking disclosure of such personal information, the PIO shall not be required to supply the information, since exempted under Section-8(1)(j) being personal information and it has no relationship to any public activity or interest. Even when the Applicant show some public interest in seeking the information, it is for the Public Information Officer to satisfy himself whether larger public interest justify to supply the information or otherwise.

 

The departmental inquiry conducted by the employer is very much within the framework of service rules, connected with the performance of the employee and therefore squarely falls under the category of personal information, hence qualify for exemption from disclosure ( except inquiries conducted under SHWW(PPR) Act ,2013 ).

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Prasad GLN

I wish to differ with learned Madam Raveena. In this case performance of an employee is not involved . Performance in strict sense involves his functioning and responsibility in his official work. Moral integrity or some other violation against human body / prestige may be involved.

The applicant is a complainant and has a right to know action initiated by PA as he is an affected party.

Here the applicant is not asking what action was taken or why action was not taken, he is simply asking a record of investigation.

If the departmental inquiry is conducted on his functioning with in PA, that is a different matter, here the complainant/applicant is a victim.

If proper action is not taken and if the matter is suppressed to protect the employee, there may be great injustice to victim and not in larger public interest.

If one goes into depth, even the nature of complaint made is personal or organisational and whether an offence against Public and amounts to crime is also be looked into.

For a test case, this should be escalated to second appeal stage with good argument and non applicability of Deshapande's decision, as I am not aware as to what was the inherent matter involved in such disciplinary proceedings. Here the applicant is himself a victim being a complainant of the same organisation, and strictly speaking need not establish larger public interest, and it is sufficient to establish a crime involved in such complaint.

The maximum amount that may be spent is less than Rs.300/- and as facts may differ from case to case, if proper IC looks into facts, he may be convinced that such SC judgment is not applicable in the case.

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The applicant (complainant) employee of an organization made complaint against other employee of the same organization regarding ill treatment.

The applicant (complainant) has now asked for enquiry report along with statements of defense from both sides under RTI ACT.

Whether this information can be provided or not?

 

Ill treatment is a misconduct under the Service Rules and if the remedy sought is departmental proceedings, then the whole matter shall be dealt with in accordance with the service rule only. While the final outcome shall be known to the complainant, the proceedings of departmental inquiry, statement of witnesses and the findings drawn by the IO are issues very much between employer and employee and regulated under the conduct rules. If that is not the case, the option available to the complainant was to file police/criminal complaint.

 

Since the complainant sought departmental action, he or she must abide by the norms of departmental inquiry proceedings. Whether there is any substance and merit in the complaint or it is made out of professional rivalry or to settle score with the complainee shall only be concluded by competent officer of the department. The witnesses who gave their unflinching statements of evidence shall not be intimidated by unscrupulous elements. Mostly, such complaints are made to settle score with honest officers in connivance with interested outsiders. When evidence is given in departmental inquiry, it is expected that it remains between the witness and the department and not open to the complainant or public at large.

 

The Hon'ble Supreme Court interpreted the term "personal information" in the context of Sec-8(1)(j) of the Act. Performance of an employee does not mean his performance with respect to his assigned duties alone. Good conduct is sine qua non to service rules. Therefore any breach of such service rules is between the employer and the employee. The departmental action is for the breach of service rules and for the breach of public law, the remedy lies elsewhere. Therefore, once the departmental action is initiated and inquiry conducted, the proceedings thereon is very much regulated under the service rules and well within the tenet laid down by Supreme Court in Girish Deshpande's case. It is pertinent to note that one of the items of information sought in that case was departmental proceedings against Mr. Lute (employee) which was declined by the department and the proceedings that culminated to the Apex Court, the Apex Court interpreted the term "personal information" and upheld the decision.

 

While at this, if the inquiry in question is held by the Internal Committee constituted under the SHWW(PPR) Act, 2013, the copy of the findings drawn by the Internal Committee (not the evidences of witnesses etc), should be given to both the complainant and the respondent by the Internal Committee itself, in terms of the provisions contained in second proviso below Section-11(1) r/w Sec.13(1) of the said Act with further direction to make representation, if any, before the Internal Committee.

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