Important orders of PSIC regarding the APARs
This is a discussion on Important orders of PSIC regarding the APARs within the Appeals & decisions forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; The orders of the PSIC are as below: The appellant has also relied on the decision of a DB of Kerala High Court in, Centre of Earth Science Studies vs. ...
- 07-17-2012, 02:42 PM #1
Important orders of PSIC regarding the APARs
The orders of the PSIC are as below:
The appellant has also relied on the decision of a DB of Kerala High Court in, Centre of Earth Science Studies vs. Dr. Mrs. Anson Sebastian and another, W.A. No. 2781 of 2009, decided on 17th February, 2010. In this case, information pertaining to confidential reports of six other employees was sought along with some documents pertaining to an inquiry against another employee. The plea of fiduciary relationship was also taken. The Court rejected both the pleas and held that Confidential Reports are essentially performance appraisal by higher officials, which along with other things constitute the basis for promotions and other service benefits. The Court referred to a Government of India’s Office Memorandum dated 14.5.2009 by which the Confidential Reports had been replaced by annual appraisal reports. Observing that the first respondent has grievance in her service and in order to satisfy herself about the propriety and correctness of promotions and other benefits given to similar employees, she wants details of the same, the Court observed that the Confidential Reports of the employees couldn’t be treated as records pertaining to personal information of an employee. The publication such reports is not prohibited under section 8 (1) (j). The Bench, therefore, concurred with the findings of the single Judge and dismissed the writ petition.
Coming to the fact of the case before me, it is alleged that doctors junior to appellant have been promoted and she has been discriminated against. Surely, it is a matter in public interest. The appellant and her three colleagues are public servants drawing salary from the State Exchequer. Their promotion is determined on the basis of APARs. Once promoted, they draw higher salary and enjoy a better status in public service. The Annual Performance Appraisal Reports are personal to the extent that they pertain to the concerned individual employee. However, they are not personal in the sense that they relate to performance appraisal of a public servant in discharge of public functions, and not an assessment of his private or personal affairs. The APARs are public documents held in the custody by public authorities. These are used for man- management in public offices. The matters pertaining to promotion of public servants are matters of public interest and disclosure of information is for a public purpose. Even if we were to presume, though it has not been so alleged, that the APARs contain some personal information of the concerned employee and in addition, may also contain a self assessment by the employee, the fact remains that the information contained in APARs is related to and is relevant in the context of the public duties and functions of the concerned individual official. It is not personal information relating to private affairs. Besides what is protected under Section 8(1) (j) is “unwarranted invasion of privacy”. It is not disclosure of personal information per se, but such disclosure should lead to unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual. Disclosure of a public document relating to appraisal of public functions of a public functionary could never be unwarranted invasion of privacy. Rather its denial would be deprivation of the citizen’s right to know how public servants, paid form taxpayers deductions, are performing public obligations. If there were to be any doubt regarding disclosure of such information, it is removed by the Proviso to Section 8(1) (j) which states that an information which cannot be denied to the parliament or legislature, shall not be denied to any person. Surely, such information as asked by the appellant could not be withheld from the Legislature. Disclosure of the information sought by the appellant, in any case, therefore, is not prohibited by Section 8(1) (j).
Section 11(1) is also subject to the Proviso which permits disclosure of information if the public interest outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party. The APARs may be confidential in nature but are freely circulated and available for consideration and evaluation in the government. The human resource management in government is based on APARs. There is, thus, a larger public interest in disclosure of these documents and it far outweighs in importance of any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party officials. Disclosure would promote transparency in governance, which is the objective of the RTI Act. The Parliament enacted the law for setting out the practical regime of the right to information to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.