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Service book not a public document, says SIC
'It can't be obtained under Right to Information Act'
7/6/2019 11:57:27 PM
Early Times Report
jammu, July 6: The State Information Commission (SIC) has held that a copy of service book cannot be obtained under Right to Information Act (RTI) as the same is not a public document.
The Commission gave this judgment while hearing an appeal filed by a Kishtwar resident who intended to seek details of his brother, an employee of the Revenue department, under the RTI Act.
The Commission has directed the Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Kishtwar (PIO in DC Office) to provide copy of appointment order under RTI which was also denied earlier.
Details available with Early Times reveal that one Jaffer Hussain, of Gudhian, Kishtwar, filed an RTI application dated 21.08.2018 before PIO in the office of DC Kishtwar. Jaffer sought service details of his brother Arshad Hussain The information sought included copy of academic qualification, service book, appointment order, date of birth certificate, etc.
On non-receipt of information from the PIO, the appellant filed First Appeal before the First Appellate Authority, that is, ADC, Kishtwar, on 22.09.2018. Feeling aggrieved Jaffer filed Second Appeal before the SIC on 29.10.2018 (admitted on 06.02.2019) praying therein that requisite information, free of cost, may be provided to him.
The appeal came up for hearing before the Commission on 30.05.2019. The appellant was not present. However, the respondents (FAA/PIO) were present during the hearing. The respondents submitted that the applicant is the brother of Arshad Hussain, whose information has been sought by him. Arshad has been appointed on compassionate grounds under SRO-43 of 1994 on the death in harness of his father who was working as Girdawar in the Revenue department. The appellant has a property dispute with his brother, and in order to settle personal scores he used the provisions of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 for seeking information that was personal to the third party.
Giving chronological events in the disposal of the RTI application and the First Appeal filed by the appellant, the FAA (ADC Kishtwar ) and the PIO (ACR Kishtwar) submitted that after receipt of the RTI application, the process in terms of section 11 of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 was conducted and the views of the third party namely Arshad Hussain were sought with regard to disclosure or otherwise of the information sought by the appellant. The said third party objected to the disclosure of his personal information to the appellant. Accordingly, the information was refused.
Subsequently, the appellant filed First Appeal in the office of DC, Kishtwar on 22.09.2018 which was received on 23.09.2018. The FAA (ADC Kishtwar) told SIC that he issued three notices to the appellant on 04.10.2018, 15.10.2018 and 22.10.2018 to appear before him for presenting his case and disposal of the appeal. However, the appellant as per FAA/ADCs statement never turned up during the dates of hearing communicated to him.
Finally, the FAA/ADC, Kishtwar disposed of the appeal on 09.11.2018 by holding that the information sought by him was exempted from disclosure under section 8 (1)(i) of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 in light of the judgement of High Court of Madhya Pradesh dated: 01.02.2010 passed in Writ Petition No. 13646 of 2009 holding that personal information like details of family, service book and annual confidential reports of a third party are exempted from disclosure as the said information has no relationship to any public activity and if parted with, will certainly lead to the unwarranted invasion of the privacy of a government servant.
The appeal filed by the appellant was partly allowed and the PIO/ACR, Kishtwar was directed by Information Commissioner M A Mir to provide a copy of the first appointment order of his brother along with the entries regarding qualification and date of birth recorded in the service book or as is available in the personal file of Arshad Hussain within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of the order.
The Commission however said that information sought by the appellant through points 3 to 9 of his RTI application cannot be provided, as the same is personal protected information of the third party and the disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion in the privacy of said third party. With these observations and directions, the second appeal filed by the appellant before the SIC was disposed of by SIC.
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