The Central Information Commission has allowed the cabinet secretariat to withhold records of deliberations and file notes linked to the resignation of former Union home secretary Anil Goswami.
Goswami put in his papers in February 2015 following allegations that he had attempted to stall the arrest of a former minister by the CBI.
The panel has based its judgement on a Delhi High Court order in a separate case in which it had held that file notings and deliberations of a group of officers or the disciplinary authority could not be disclosed.
The court had, however, allowed information on action taken in relation to complaints against an officer to be provided to an applicant.
Chief information commissioner Y.K. Sinha buttressed his argument to withhold the information citing a Supreme Court verdict, which had held that “professional records, including qualification, performance, evaluation reports, ACRs, disciplinary proceedings, etc. are all personal information.… Such personal information is entitled to protection from unwarranted invasion of privacy and conditional access is available when stipulation of larger public interest is satisfied.”
RTI applicant and IPS officer Amitabh Thakur had sought to know from the cabinet secretariat the details of action taken on a complaint against Goswami, including communication exchanged between various authorities and file notings. Not getting a satisfactory response, Thakur had appealed before the CIC.
During the hearing, he argued that he wanted the information, including file notings, in public interest “to know the sequence of events which led to the forced resignation of Anil Goswami”.
“The subject matter which forms the basis of the instant case is disclosure of note sheets and other correspondence exchanged by various offices in the process of considering the complaint filed against Sri Goswami,” Sinha had noted.