eGovernance in India

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ACR outside RTI purview: Ansari

Posted by egovindia on July 22, 2006

ACR outside RTI purview: Ansari
Tribune News Service

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060722/main8.htm#2

New Delhi, July 21
While the Manmohan Singh Cabinet, under pressure from bureaucrats, approved an amendment to the Right to Information Act debarring file noting from its purview, the officialdom lost its case before the Central Information Commission (CIC) to make the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) public.

“Apart from being personal information, ACRs of officers and employees need not be disclosed because they do not contribute to any public interest”, Prof M.M. Ansari, Information Commissioner at the CIC ruled.

The three-page order said it was also possible that many officers might not like their assessment by their superiors to go into the hands of all and sundry. If the reports were good, these might attract envy and if those were bad, ridicule and derision. Either way it affected the employee and the organisation he worked for.

The CIC ruling came on a petition filed by an RBI officer demanding the marks awarded to him on the performance appraisal reports for the past five years and marks awarded in the interview held for promotion.

The appellant contended that the CPIO and the appellate authority had denied those information resulting in an appeal before the CIC.

“The ACRs are protected from disclosure because arguably such disclosure seriously harm interpersonal relationship in a given organisation”, the order said.

“The ACR notings represent an interaction based on trust and confidence between the officers involved in initiating, reviewing or accepting the ACRs. These officers could be seriously embarrassed and even compromised if their notings are made public. There are, thus, reasonable grounds to protect all such information through a proper classification under the Official Secrets Act”, Prof Ansari said.

The Information Commissioner ruled that “no public purpose is going to be served by disclosing this information. On the contrary it may lead to harming public interest in terms of compromising objectivity of assessment, which is the core and the substance of the ACR, which may result from the uneasiness of the reporting, reviewing and the accepting officers from the knowledge that their comments were no longer confidential.

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