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State Bank of India Vs. the Central Information Commission and Another - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCWP Nos. 6675, 6676, 6677, 6678, 6679, 6680, 6681, 6682, 6683 & 6824 of 2013
Judge
AppellantState Bank of India
RespondentThe Central Information Commission and Another
Excerpt:
sanjay karol, j. 1. the issue, which arises for consideration in these petitions, is as to whether names of the reporting, first and second review/accepting authority, authors of the annual confidential reports (for short acrs) of respondent santosh kumar kaushal (hereinafter referred to as the applicant), can be disclosed to him under the provisions of the right to information act, 2005, or not. 2. applicant, who is presently posted as manager (osd) in the state bank of india, the mall, shimla (hereinafter referred to as the appropriate authority), whether reporters of the local papers may be allowed to see the judgment? sought following information vide application dated 17.8.2010 (annexure p-1): œ(i) whether cognizance was given to self appraisal submitted by the reportee: yes/no.....
Judgment:

Sanjay Karol, J.

1. The issue, which arises for consideration in these petitions, is as to whether names of the Reporting, First and Second Review/Accepting Authority, authors of the Annual Confidential Reports (for short ACRs) of respondent Santosh Kumar Kaushal (hereinafter referred to as the applicant), can be disclosed to him under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005, or not.

2. Applicant, who is presently posted as Manager (OSD) in the State Bank of India, The Mall, Shimla (hereinafter referred to as the Appropriate Authority), Whether reporters of the local papers may be allowed to see the judgment? sought following information vide application dated 17.8.2010 (Annexure P-1):

œ(i) Whether cognizance was given to Self Appraisal submitted by the Reportee: Yes/No

(ii) Name of Reporting Authority, Designation and Grade Scale:

(iii) Name of Reviewing Authority/Accepting Authority, Designation and Grade Scale:

(iv) Name of members of IInd Reviewing Authority/ Accepting Authority, Designation and Grade Scale.

(v) Score awarded by the Reporting Authority and Score reviewed by the Ist and IInd Reviewing Authority/ Accepting Authority in the following parameters.

Sr

No.

Reporting

Authority

Ist Reviewing

Authority/ Ist

Accepting Authority

IInd Reviewing

Authority/ IInd

Accepting Authority

Score

Awarded

Out

of

Max.

Marks

Score

Reviewed/

Accepted

Score

Reviewed/

Accepted

Out of

Max.

Marks

Score

Reviewed/

Accepted

Score

Reviewed/

Accepted

Out of

Max.

1Part A404040
2Part B202020
3Part A202020
4Part B202020
Total100100100
vi) Adverse Remarks, if any:

vii) Date on which ACR as on 31st March, 1995 is

written/reported: by the Reporting Authority.?

3. Vide communication dated 13.9.2010 (Annexure P-2), of the Central Public Information Officer and Assistant General Manager of the petitioner-Bank, applicant was refused information sought in terms of para (i) to (v) and (vii) (supra) for the reason that being fiduciary in relationship, the same was exempted from disclosure under the provisions of Section 8(1)(e) and (g) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Insofar as information sought in terms of para (vi), applicant was informed that there were no adverse remarks in his ACRs for the period in question.

4. Aggrieved, applicant preferred an appeal, which stood rejected by the Appellate Authority vide order dated 4.11.2010 (Annexure P-3). Relentlessly, he pursued the matter before the Second Appellate authority and vide impugned order dated 24.10.2011 (Annexure P-5), the appropriate authority stands directed to furnish information to the applicant, to the following effect:

œCommission had heard both sides and on the ratio of the CIC order dated 27 May 2008 and 24 September 2008 directs respondent to provide information in respect of points ii, iii, iv and vi to the appellant. Information in respect of v) has already been furnished to the appellant. In our view there appears to have been a misreading of section 8(1)(3) of the Act by the CPIO and the first appellate authority. The fiduciary relationship, if at all, is between the employer and employee. The information which is expected to be kept exempt from disclosure is the information concerning the employee, in this case, the appellant herein. The exemption is from disclosure to third-party and certainly not to the appellant himself.?

5. The second Appellate Authority disposed of his appeals by a common order, which stands assailed by way of separate petitions. Since common questions are involved, these petitions are being disposed of by a common judgment. We have narrated the facts of the first writ petition.

6. It is not in dispute that applicant is seeking information from the appropriate authority with regard to his own ACRs recorded over different period of time. No third party information is sought for by him.

7. At the threshold, we may also observe that on 27.12.2013, Ms Devyani Sharma, learned counsel for the petitioner-Bank, made a request for an adjournment for placing certain documents on record, which was turned down, for the reason that not only matter was part-heard from the previous day but also the point involved was purely legal. Needless to add, earlier adequate opportunity was afforded to the parties to complete their pleadings. In fact there is nothing new, which the petitioner wanted to place on record, which could not have been placed at the time of filing these petitions.

8. Inconsistency on a point of law, in the earlier decisions rendered by the apex Court (two-Judge Bench), in Union of India v. Major Bahadur Singh, (2006) 1 SCC 368; and U.P. Jal Nigam v. Prabhat Chandra Jain, (1996) 2 SCC 363, now stands conclusively settled by three-Judge Bench of apex Court in Sukhdev Singh v. Union of India and others, (2013) 9 SCC 566, wherein it is held as under:

œ6. We are in complete agreement with the view in Dev Dutt v. Union of India, (2008) 8 SCC 725 particularly paragraphs 17, 18, 22, 37 and 41 as quoted above. We approve the same.

7. A three Judge Bench of this Court in Abhijit Ghosh Dastidar vs. Union of India and others, (2009) 16 SCC 146 followed Dev Dutt. In para 8 of the Report, this Court with reference to the case under consideration held as under:

œ8. Coming to the second aspect, that though the benchmark œvery good? is required for being considered for promotion admittedly the entry of œgood? was not communicated to the appellant. The entry of 'good' should have been communicated to him as he was having œvery good? in the previous year. In those circumstances, in our opinion, noncommunication of entries in the ACR of a public servant whether he is in civil, judicial, police or any other service (other than the armed forces), it has civil consequences because it may affect his chances for promotion or getting other benefits. Hence, such non-communication would be arbitrary and as such violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The same view has been reiterated in the above referred decision (Dev Dutt case) relied on by the appellant. Therefore, the entries œgood? if at all granted to the appellant, the same should not have been taken into consideration for being considered for promotion to the higher grade. The respondent has no case that the appellant had ever been informed of the nature of the grading given to him.?

8. In our opinion, the view taken in Dev Dutt that every entry in ACR of a public servant must be communicated to him/her within a reasonable period is legally sound and helps in achieving threefold objectives. First, the communication of every entry in the ACR to a public servant helps him/her to work harder and achieve more that helps him in improving his work and give better results. Second and equally important, on being made aware of the entry in the ACR, the public servant may feel dissatisfied with the same. Communication of the entry enables him/her to make representation for upgradation of the remarks entered in the ACR. Third, communication of every entry in the ACR brings transparency in recording the remarks relating to a public servant and the system becomes more conforming to the principles of natural justice. We, accordingly, hold that every entry in ACR “ poor, fair, average, good or very good “ must be communicated to him/her within a reasonable period.

9. The decisions of this Court in Satya Narain Shukla vs. Union of India and others, (2006) 9 SCC 69, and K.M. Mishra vs. Central Bank of India and others, (2008) 9 SCC 120, and the other decisions of this Court taking a contrary view are declared to be not laying down good law.? (Emphasis supplied)

9. Noticeably, in Dev Dutt v. Union of India and others, (2008) 8 SCC 725, the apex Court had held that every entry in the ACRs of a public servant must be communicated to him within a reasonable period. Failure to do so adversely affects the employee in two ways “ (1) communication of entries makes him aware about the assessment of his work and conduct by his superiors, affording him an opportunity to improve his work in future; (2) affords an opportunity of making a representation against the entry which he feels is unjustified, enabling him to seek revision/upgradation. Non-communication of entry only smacks of arbitrariness, thus violating Article 14 of Constitution of India. Emphasis was laid on the need, importance and significance of communicating such entries, enabling the employee to seek redressal inter alia for rectification thereof, in accordance with law, for giving a fair chance and opportunity for promotional avenues. In particular, the Court held that:

œ37. We further hold that when the entry is communicated to him the public servant should have a right to make a representation against the entry to the concerned authority, and the authority concerned must decide the representation in a fair manner and within a reasonable period. We also hold that the representation must be decided by an authority higher than the one who gave the entry, otherwise the likelihood is that the representation will be summarily rejected without adequate consideration as it would be an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. All this would be conducive to fairness and transparency in public administration, and would result in fairness to public servants. The State must be a model employer, and must act fairly towards its employees. Only then would good governance be possible.?

œ41. In our opinion, non-communication of entries in the Annual Confidential Report of a public servant, whether he is in civil, judicial, police or any other service (other than the military), certainly has civil consequences because it may affect his chances for promotion or get other benefits (as already discussed above). Hence, such non-communication would be arbitrary, and as such violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.?

10. Apex Court in Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agrawal, (2011) 1 SCC 496, while reiterating the settled principle of law that Right to Information is an integral part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution; the Right to Information Act merely recognizes the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of speech and expression; independence of Judiciary forms part of basic structure of the Constitution of India; the independence of Judiciary and the fundamental right to free speech and expression are of a great value and both of them are required to be balanced, referred the following questions for determination by a larger Bench:

œ1. Whether the concept of independence of the judiciary requires and demands the prohibition of furnishing of the information sought? Whether the information sought for amounts to interference in the functioning of the judiciary?

2. Whether the information sought for cannot be furnished to avoid any erosion in the credibility of the decisions and to ensure a free and frank expression of honest opinion by all the constitutional functionaries, which is essential for effective consultation and for taking the right decision?

3. Whether the information sought for is exempt under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act??

11. In Subhash Popatlal Dave v. Union of India and another, (2012) 7 SCC 533, the Court, however, has held that the provisions of the Act cannot have a overriding effect on the Constitution. Here, in the said case, Court was dealing with the issue as to whether reasons could be supplied to the detenu, in view of Article 22 of Constitution of India.

12. In view of settled position of law, as it stands now, in our considered view, no fault can be found with the impugned order dated 24.10.2011 (Annexure P-5), passed by the Information Commissioner. There is neither any illegality nor any perversity.

13. It is urged by Ms Devyani Sharma, learned counsel for the petitioner-Bank that these petitions be kept pending, as the apex Court, in Civil Appeal No.2872 of 2010, titled as Union of India v. A.K. Goel and others, has left the issue of date of applicability of law laid down by the apex Court in Dev Dutt and Sukhdev (supra) open. In effect, what is contended is that till such time the issue is decided by the apex Court, these petitions be adjourned sine die.

14. Here we may observe that there is no bar under the Act, against the information being supplied by the appropriate authority, in relation to acts or events which have occurred and stand recorded prior to the Act being notified in the year 2005. We may also observe that the Act was enacted to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. The Preamble specifically takes note of the fact that the Democratic Republic established by the Constitution of India, requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information, vital for its functioning, not only to contain corruption, but also hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. The conflicting interest between the Government and the citizenry, while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal, stands considered.

15. Section 2(f) of the Act defines œinformation? to mean:-

œany form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material hold in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force?;

16. œRight to information? as defined under Section 2(j) reads thus:

œ2(j) œright to information? means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to “

a. inspection of work, documents, records;

b. taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;

c. taking certified samples of material;

d. obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device.?

17. œRecord? includes any document and file. Neither the definition clause, nor any provision of the Act postulates that information, prior to enforcement of the Act, cannot be supplied to a citizen. The only fetters prescribed are under Sections 8, 9, 11 and 24 of the Act. Even here no bar is provided for supplying information recorded prior to the enactment. In fact, Section 6 of the Act empowers the citizens to seek information and Section 7 casts a duty and obligation upon the prescribed authorities to furnish the same, except where it cannot be so done, and that too on limited grounds and for assigned reasons.

18. In Secretary General, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, AIR 2010 Delhi 159 (Full Bench), the Court held as under:

œThe source of right to information does not emanate from the right to Information Act. It is a right that emerges from the constitutional guarantees under Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution of India. The Right to information Act is not repository of the right to information. Its repository is the constitutional rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a). The Act is merely an instrument that lays down statutory procedure in the exercise of this right. Its overreaching purpose is to facilitate democracy by helping to ensure that citizens have the information required to participate meaningfully in the democratic process and to help the governors accountable to the governed. In construing such a statute the Court ought to give to it widest operation which its language will permit. The Court will also not readily read words which are not there and introduction of which will restrict the rights of citizens for whose benefit the statute is intended.?

19. Section 8(3) of the Act specifically provides that information relating to any occurrence, event or matter, which has taken place, occurred or happened 20 years before the date on which any request is made under Section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under this Section.

20. Though, in a totally different context, the apex Court in Khanapuram Gandaiah v. Administrative Officer and others, (2010) 2 SCC 1, while interpreting definition of œinformation?, held that an applicant under Section 6 of the Act can get any information, which is in existence and accessible to public authority under law. He is entitled to get all opinions, advices, circulars, etc., but cannot ask for information as to why the same were issued/passed, more so in matters pertaining to judicial decisions.

21. The object of the Act is to bring transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities. The Act confers a right on the citizens to access information from the public authority, which is obliged to facilitate this right. It is a constitutional right. Law with regard to principles of natural justice, fairness and transparency in public administration has evolved manifold. All entries in the ACRs of a civil public servant must be communicated. Information supplied would only be conducive for fairness and transparency in public administration resulting in fairness to public servants. If transparency is to be brought in and public servants are to be held accountable, in the working of public authorities, disclosure of ACRs to the concerned employee cannot be denied.

22. The apex Court in Chief Information Commissioner and another v. State of Manipur and another, AIR 2012 SC 864, after taking into account its earlier decisions rendered by various Benches, including Constitution Bench, in Peoples Union for Civil Liberties and another v. Union of India and others, (2004) 2 SCC 476;

Dinesh Trivedi, M.P. and others v. Union of India and others, (1997) 4 SCC 306; Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India and others v. Cricket Association of Bengal and others, (1995) 2 SCC 161; Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. v. Proprietors of Indian Express Newspapers, Bombay Pvt. Ltd. and others, (1988) 4 SCC 592; S.P. Gupta and others v. President of India and others, AIR 1982 SC 149 (Constitution Bench); and The State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain and others, AIR 1975 SC 865 (Constitution Bench), held that:

œ11. It is, therefore, clear from the ratio in the above decisions of the Constitution Bench of this Court that the right to information, which is basically founded on the right to know, is an intrinsic part of the fundamental right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The said Act was, thus, enacted to consolidate the fundamental right of free speech.?

œ16. The exercise of judicial discretion in favour of free speech is not only peculiar to our jurisprudence, the same is a part of the jurisprudence in all the countries which are governed by rule of law with an independent judiciary. In this connection, if we may quote what Lord Acton said in one of his speeches:

"Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity"

17. It is, therefore, clear that a society which adopts openness as a value of overarching significance not only permits its citizens a wide range of freedom of expression, it also goes further in actually opening up the deliberative process of the Government itself to the sunlight of public scrutiny.?

23. Right of privacy of a Government servant is of the same order as that of a private individual. Being a fundamental right, such right is to be clearly protected unless public interest warrants disclosure of information with regard thereto. (See: Vijay Prakash v. Union of India and others, AIR 2010 Delhi 7).

24. In the instant case, applicant is seeking information with reference to his ACRs, pertaining to different periods upto the year 2008. He apprehends that he has been unfairly dealt with by the authorities. We see no reason why entries recorded prior to the Act coming into force be not supplied to the applicant. The Supreme Court in Dev Dutt (supra) has only explained the position of law as it stands on the date of enactment. It cannot be said that the Act is to apply prospectively, for information recorded after its enactment.

25. What is further argued is that there is fiduciary relationship between the employer and the reporting/reviewing (1st and 2nd) authority and as such their particulars cannot be disclosed.

26. What is fiduciary relationship has not been defined under the Act. Provisions of Section 8(1)(e)(g) and

(j), to which our attention was invited, for the sake of convenience, better appreciation and ready reference, are reproduced as under:

œ8. Exemption from disclosure of information.

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,-

(a) to (d) xxx xxx xxx

(e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

(f) xxx xxx xxx

(g) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;

(h) and (i) xxx xxx xxx

(j) 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 the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

27. Term œfiduciary relationship?, in the context of the Act, stands considered by the apex Court in Central Board of Secondary Education and another v. Aditya Bandopadhyay and others, (2011) 8 SCC 497. There the Court was dealing with the issue as to whether an examinee is entitled to inspect the evaluated answer sheets of a public examination or take certified copies thereof and also as to whether the examining body holds the examination answer books in a fiduciary relationship and thus was under no obligation to give inspection thereof. The Court while making the following observations held that the examining body is not in any fiduciary relationship with respect to the examiner and the evaluated answer books held by the examining body are not by virtue of any fiduciary relationship. The Court further held that:

œ39. The term fiduciary' refers to a person having a duty to act for the benefit of another, showing good faith and condour, where such other person reposes trust and special confidence in the person owing or discharging the duty. The term fiduciary relationship' is used to describe a situation or transaction where one person (beneficiary) places complete confidence in another person (fiduciary) in regard to his affairs, business or transaction(s).

The term also refers to a person who holds a thing in trust for another (beneficiary). The fiduciary is expected to act in confidence and for the benefit and advantage of the beneficiary, and use good faith and fairness in dealing with the beneficiary or the things belonging to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary has entrusted anything to the fiduciary, to hold the thing in trust or to execute certain acts in regard to or with reference to the entrusted thing, the fiduciary has to act in confidence and expected not to disclose the thing or information to any third party. ¦¦¦¦¦¦..

41. In a philosophical and very wide sense, examining bodies can be said to act in a fiduciary capacity, with reference to students who participate in an examination, as a government does while governing its citizens or as the present generation does with reference to the future generation while preserving the environment. But the words information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship' are used in section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act in its normal and well recognized sense, that is to refer to persons who act in a fiduciary capacity, with reference to a specific beneficiary or beneficiaries who are to be expected to be protected or benefited by the actions of the fiduciary - a trustee with reference to the beneficiary of the trust, a guardian with reference to a minor/physically/infirm/ mentally challenged, a parent with reference to a child, a lawyer or a chartered accountant with reference to a client, a doctor or nurse with reference to a patient, an agent with reference to a principal, a partner with reference to another partner, a director of a company with reference to a share-holder, an executor with reference to a legatee, a receiver with reference to the parties to a lis, an employer with reference to the confidential information relating to the employee, and an employee with reference to business dealings/transaction of the employer. We do not find that kind of fiduciary relationship between the examining body and the examinee, with reference to the evaluated answerbooks, that come into the custody of the examining body.

42. The duty of examining bodies is to subject the candidates who have completed a course of study or a period of training in accordance with its curricula, to a process of verification/examination/testing of their knowledge, ability or skill, or to ascertain whether they can be said to have successfully completed or passed the course of study or training. Other specialized Examining Bodies may simply subject candidates to a process of verification by an examination, to find out whether such person is suitable for a particular post, job or assignment. An examining body, if it is a public authority entrusted with public functions, is required to act fairly, reasonably, uniformly and consistently for public good and in public interest.? (Emphasis supplied)

28. To similar effect are the decisions of various Courts of land in Pritam Rooj v. University of Calcutta and others, AIR 2008 Calcutta 118; University of Calcutta and others v. Pritam Rooj, AIR 2009 Calcutta 97 (DB); Kawal Singh Gautam v. State of Chhattisgarh and others, AIR 2011 Chhattisgarh 143; The Kerala Public Service Commission and others v. State Information Commission, Kerala and another, AIR 2011 Kerala 135 (DB), and Rajasthan Public Service Commission v. Ms. Pooja Meena and another, AIR 2012 Rajasthan 52.

29. The issue as to whether the examining body was duty bound to disclose names of the members present in the Interview Board or not was specifically considered by the apex Court in Bihar Public Service Commission v. Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi and another, JT 2012(12) SC 552, and the Court held that public interest would warrant not for such disclosure as it would expose the examiners to danger of life. While doing so, they considered the observation made in CBSE (supra). But significantly this is not the case in hand.

30. In Union of India v. R.S. Khan, AIR 2011 Delhi 50, the Court held as under:

œ10. The next submission to be dealt with is that information contained in the files in the form of file notings made by the different officials dealing with the files during the course of disciplinary proceedings against the Petitioner were available to the Union of India in a fiduciary relationship within the meaning of Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. This Court concurs with the view expressed by the CIC that in the context of a government servant performing official functions and making notes on a file about the performance or conduct of another officer, such noting cannot be said to be given to the government pursuant to a fiduciary relationship with the government within the meaning of Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Section 8(1)(e) is, at best, a ground to deny information to a third party on the ground that the information sought concerns a government servant, which information is available with the government pursuant to a fiduciary relationship, that such person, has with the government, as an employee.

11. To illustrate, it will be no ground for the Union of India to deny to an employee, against whom the disciplinary proceedings are held, to withhold the information available in the government files about such employee on the ground that such information has been given to it by some other government official who made the noting in a fiduciary relationship. This can be a ground only to deny disclosure to a third party who may be seeking information about the Petitioner in relation to the disciplinary proceedings held against her. The Union of India, can possibly argue that in view of the fiduciary relationship between the Petitioner and the Union of India it is not obligatory for the Union of India to disclose the information about her to a third party. This again is not a blanket immunity against disclosure. In terms of Section 8(1)(e) RTI Act, the Union of India will have to demonstrate that there is no larger public interest which warrants disclosure of such information. The need for the official facing disciplinary inquiry to have to be provided with all the material against such official has been explained in the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in union of India v. L.K. Puri, 2008 151 DLT 669, as under:

œThe principle of law, on the conjoint reading of the two judgments, as aforesaid, would be that in case there is such material, whether in the form of comments/findings/ advise of UPSC/CVC or other material on which the disciplinary authority acts upon, it is necessary to supply the same to the charge sheeted officer before relying thereupon any imposing the punishment, major or minor, inasmuch as cardinal principle of law is that one cannot cat (sic: act) on material which is neither supplied nor shown to the delinquent official. Otherwise, such advice of UPSC can be furnished to the Government servant along with the copy of the penalty order as well as per Rule 32 of the CCS(CCA) Rules.??

31. In our considered view, fiduciary relationship, if at all, is between the employer and employee. Information, which is accepted to be kept exempt from disclosure, is the information concerning the employee. Acceptance of petitioners contention would lead to doing violence to the statutory provisions, its ambit and scope. The exemption is from disclosure to a third party and not to the employee. In fact, as explained in Dev Dutt (supra), if the intention of making adverse entries, in the ACRs of an employee, is to improve his performance, then the purpose is not achieved by keeping the information secret from him. Unless adverse entry is communicated to the employee and he is allowed to explain his position, the exercise of getting improved his performance would not be achieved. Cases of error, malice, act of arbitrariness and unreasonableness cannot be ruled out. An employee, as a part of good governance, must know who his reporting and accepting authority is. In fact, it is not a trade secret at all. It is known to all within the organization. Disclosure of their names, in no manner, would jeopardize their relationship either with the employee or with the employer. There is no question of compromise of any confidentiality in adopting such a practice. There is no threat to life of any person. There is also no question of invasion of privacy.

32. Information relating to posting, transfer and promotion of clerical staff of a Public Sector Undertaking (Bank) does not pertain to any fiduciary relationship of the bank vis-à-vis its employees, within the dictionary meaning of the word œfiduciary?. Also, such information cannot be said to be held in trust by the employer on behalf of its employees. (See: Canara Bank v. The Central Information Commission, Delhi and another, AIR 2007 Kerala 225).

33. Information relating to third party, cannot be disclosed, even in public interest, without disclosing and affording opportunity to the concerned. {See: Centre for Development of Advanced Computing v. Brig. (Retd.) Ujjal Dasgupta and another, AIR 2010 Delhi 132; and Arvind Kejriwal v. Central Public Information Officer and another, AIR 2012 Delhi 29}.

34. An applicant is entitled for information, prescribing the criteria and the marks allotted under different heads for giving employment to public servants.

{See: Haryana Public Service Commission, Chandigarh v. State Information Commission and another, AIR 2009 Punjab and Haryana 14(DB)}.

35. The Act does not impose fetters with regard to supply of record, which may be voluminous. (See: Surupsingh Harya Naik v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2007 Bombay 121).

36. Right of a citizen to seek information emanates from Section 6 of the Act. He need not assign any reasons for seeking such information. {See: Surupsingh Harya Naik v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2007 Bombay 121; and Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi v. State Information Commission, Patna and others, AIR 2011 Patna 103(DB)}.

37. No other point urged.

38. Thus, we are of the considered view that not only an employee has constitutional and statutory right to obtain information sought for, but also petitioners have a corresponding legal duty to disclose the same.

In view of the aforesaid discussion, the present petitions only merit dismissal and are hereby dismissed, so also pending application(s), if any.


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