NEW DELHI: In what could open the floodgates for Right to Information (RTI) applicationsin the armed forces, the Central Information Commission has allowed disclosure of approach papers and notings that are placed before the review selection board of the defence services.
The notings, which include comments by superiors on officers being considered by the board, have been treated as confidential so far.
In the light of the CIC order, there could be a spurt in RTI applications as well as litigation by disgruntled officers who might differ with a poor rating. The information commission has ordered that the documents be made public within 10 days.
In his order, which adds up to defence officers accessing papers relating to their promotions, chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah reasoned that since reports relating to government's department promotion committees (DPCs) were exempted under the RTI Act, the documents demanded by the appellant should be disclosed.
CIC had earlier ordered that proceedings of the DPCs, except those relating to annual confidential reports, be made public.
In recent times, this has led to a flurry of applications from government officials, in many cases disgruntled, keen to know why they were bypassed for a promotion that they were hoping for.
Lucknow resident Col (retd) Inder Paul had appealed to the armed forces medical services (AFMS) - the medical wing of the defence forces - for approach papers related to review selection board meetings held on January 14 and August 8, 2003.
The appeal was rejected by the first appellate authority on the premise that disclosure of the DPC would lead to disclosing of ACRs that was barred. Paul's second appeal was also rejected on similar grounds following which he approached the CIC.
In the order, the CIC said that the documents should be given to Paul within 10 days. It, however, directed the ministry of defence to put forth any objections on record within the time limit since the ministry was not party to the hearing and has so far not been allowed to voice its opinion or consider the matter.