Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Misuse of RTI by employees of Public authorities be considered as ‘misconduct’: CIC


Taking serious note of misuse of RTI, the Central Information Commission has observed that such misuse by the employees of Public authorities shall be considered as an item of misconduct that invite disciplinary action.

The observation was made by Information Commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu who was hearing an appeal filed by an employee of Ambedkar Polytechnic. He had sought wide range of information about colleagues and Principal and even of the officers who were supposed to inquire into complaints filed against him. 

Perusing his RTI application, the commission observed "The public authority is scared of appellant as he has already filed number of complaints, grievance representations, RTI applications, almost chocking entire administration."

The commission also observed that appellant had video graphed a lecture of his lady colleague in the class room without permission and put it on social media with reckless allegations. The Commission further observed “he is undoubtedly a misuser of every mechanism and bent upon harassing everyone who does not yield to his wishes. He is a potential threat to peace in the institution and also privacy of colleagues. Whole college is scared of him. He asked for certified copies of ‘integrity certificate’ of officers who are asked to inquire into allegations against him. This shows that he is not capable of working with other staff in public authority like this.” 

Dismissing his appeal, the commission issued following directions,

  • The public authority should proceed with disciplinary action against the appellant for his misuse of RTI which amounted to misconduct, before April 25, 2016. Every misuse of system like, misuse of PGMS, RTI and Social media shall be considered as an item of misconduct that invite disciplinary action. 
  • If the misusers of RTI involved in invading privacy by video recording and spreading false allegations through social media network, the head of the institute need to examine if it amounts to any offence under IPC or IT Act, and shall report to appropriate authorities including police. 
  • The public authority should inform the individual officers, if their rights are breached by misuse, they have a every right to complain as per law and public authority shall facilitate such action, if the misuse obstructs the normal course of functioning of the institute. 
  • The concerned authorities to take immediate action if the information given to appellant in this case is abused or spread in social media or elsewhere, and they shall not give any information to this appellant if files similar RTI requests. The public authority should take note that employees or colleagues like Ms.Tarika, Ms.Amita Dev have a right to seek compensation from public authorities if they ignore or neglect their privacy rights by indiscriminately giving information in the absence of public interest. It is pathetic to note that the PIO could not ascertain that there was no public interest in this case but appellant has malicious interests in harassing others or building pressure on authorities in self-interest. The authorities have a duty to protect other employees from such misusers. This kind of misuse to build up pressure against taking action on misconduct or to secure promotion should be treated as disqualification. 
  • The public authority should provide necessary training to the PIOs and other staff members to verify the nature of appellant and if they found him to be misuser, tell them not to give information like medical claims of third parties.
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