The Union of India has approached the Bombay High Court invoking its writ jurisdiction against an order by the Central Information Commission (CIC), wherein the UoI was directed to furnish complete annual appraisal reports (APAR) of an employee at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for the period of 2008-2014.
The said employee is a scientific officer, Design & Projects Division, BARC.
He filed an application under the Right to Information Act before the Central Public Information Officer seeking the same information, but it was rejected.
Thereafter, an appeal was filed before the first appellate authority, which again rejected the application on November 10, 2014.
Finally, the second appeal filed before the CIC came to be allowed in an order dated February 26, 2016.
Senior counsel Rajiv Chavan appeared for the petitioners, UoI. He submitted that the applicant employee had been furnished with the grading given to him for the relevant years in respect of which he had sought information.
However, what has been not given to him and masked (hidden) is the information which the employee considers to be sensitive and therefore, covered by Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, Chavan said.
The bench of Justice RM Savant and Justice SS Jadhav examined Section 8(1)(a) of the said Act and noted:“It is well settled that the process of appraising an employee's performance and communicating the same is with a view to give an opportunity to the employee to correct himself or improve himself and also to enable him to take recourse against the adverse remarks which are appearing in his confidential reports. Hence, the information which has not been furnished to the Respondent No. 1 would be such information which would only enable the Respondent No. 1 to improve or correct himself. However, depriving an employee of the appraisal of the Reporting Officer would tantamount to denying the employee an opportunity to correct or improve himself or to represent against what has been recorded in his annual confidential reports.”
In support of his case, respondent employee’s counsel AM Kulkarni placed the decision of the apex court in Sukhdev Singh vs Union of India and Ors before the bench.
In the said case, the apex court had held that every entry in an ACR – poor, fair, average, good or very good must be communicated to the employee within a reasonable period.
Therefore, after going through the masked (hidden) portion of the APAR, the court observed: “We do not find anything in the report of the Reporting Officer to be sensitive or which could prejudicially affect the scientific or economic interest of the State, so as to be covered by Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act. The order passed by the Central Information Commissioner therefore, does not merit any interference. For the reasons aforestated, we do not find any merit in the above petition.”
Thus, the petition was dismissed.