February 08, 2012

HC reserves verdict on plea making ACRs public under RTI

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today reserved its verdict on a plea seeking to declare that the performance appraisal reports of a public servant were not exempted under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and they can be shared under the transparency law. "The judgement is reserved," a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said. The court was hearing an appeal of RTI activist R K Jain against the order of a single judge which held the annual performance appraisal reports (APARs), previously known as ACRs, of a public servant were "personal information" under the RTI and hence, exempted from disclosure unless it was established a "larger public interest" warranted disclosure. Prashant Bhushan, counsel for Jain, said "only those information, which relate to personal information 'which has no relation to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual', is exempted from disclosure. "And the information pertaining to performance of the public duty of a public servant cannot to be exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act", he argued.
Manisha Dhir, counsel for the Centre, however, opposed the plea saying ACRs were exempted from disclosure as they relate to personal information of the public servant concerned. The petition has sought setting aside of the order of the single judge and issuance of a direction to the Centre to disclose alleged "adverse" remarks in Annual Confidential Report (ACR) of Jyoti Balasundaram, a member of Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) in 2000-01. It has also sought a judicial declaration that ACRs were not exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act.



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