Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): CIC has rejected an appeal where the appellant requested the CPIO of Sarva Haryana Gramin Bank, Rohtak, to disclose to him the steps taken and details of proceedings in a complaint he had filed against the bank’s manager.

The appellant requested for the following details under the RTI Act:

i. Whether enquiry has been initiated on the said complaint,

ii. Copy of order appointing an enquiry officer,

iii. Details of the report submitted by the enquiry officer.

The appellant submitted that the response provided to him by the CPIO was not satisfactory as he had asked not just for the report of the enquiry officer, which was provided to him, but also documents pertaining to the course of the enquiry, including depositions made by customers about the conduct of the manager to the enquiry officer.

The CPIO contended that the statements by the customers and villagers consisted of personal information relating to a third party and had hence been accordingly denied under S. 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, which reads:

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this act , there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest , or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”

The Commission relied on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. CIC, (2013) 1 SCC 212 where the Court held that details recording proceedings of disciplinary enquiries were personal information, outside the ambit of the RTI Act as follows:

“The performance of an employee/officer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information”, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual.”

Hence the Commission was of the view that the information solicited by the appellant was of a private nature, protected under S. 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and disclosing the same would not cause any public good, hence the appeal was dismissed. [R.N. Kapur v. CPIO, Sarva Haryana Gramin Bank, Head Office, Rohtak, Decision No. CIC/RUGBK/A/2017/114671, decided on 17.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Single-Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Siddharth, J. quashed the impugned termination order against the petitioner.

As per the facts of the case, the petitioner was alleged to have defalcated a sum of Rs. 26, 40,937.93 and based on the preliminary enquiry, he was found guilty of the stated charge. Two subsequent FIRs under Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act and under Section 419 IPC were filed against the petitioner. The petitioner was subsequently suspended from service.

Respondents have filed that the petitioner embezzled a huge amount for which he was asked for an explanation. Further the petitioner was sent a notice in regard to no explanation from his side. An enquiry report based on the records found the petitioner guilty of defalcation of more than Rs. 26 lakhs. The petitioner was issued a letter in which it was stated that his services are governed by Model Service Regulations for the employees of U.P Consumer Cooperative Store. Petitioner was also granted personal hearing and the disciplinary proceedings were conducted in accordance with the rules.

Further, it has been argued that the petitioner was not afforded any opportunity of defending his case which was in violation of Regulation 77(i)(a) of the Regulations under which he was governed. Secondly, before passing of the termination order approval from the board of directors was not taken which was a violation of Regulation 76(b) of the above stated regulations. Thirdly, he was not granted personal hearing and finally the impugned termination order was passed.

Upon perusal of Regulation 77 it was found that the entire disciplinary enquiry was against the said regulation and also against the principles of natural justice. Therefore, it was held by the Court that, the disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner were absolutely illegal and against the express provisions of Regulation 77 and further no material was brought on record regarding the status of criminal cases. The impugned termination order against the petitioner was quashed. [Dhodha Singh v. State of U.P, 2018 SCC OnLine All 448, delivered on 24.04.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question as to whether after transfer of a disciplinary proceeding, as per the mandate enshrined under Section 36B(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961 to the Bar Council of India (BCI) from the State Bar Council, can the BCI, instead of enquiring into the complaint and adjudicating thereon, send it back to the State Bar Council with the direction to decide the controversy within a stipulated time, the Court held that the legislature never intended a complaint made against an Advocate either from the perspective of the complainant or from the delinquent to be transferred to BCI, again to be sent back. It was held that BCI, while exercising original jurisdiction on transfer of a complaint, cannot exercise the appellate jurisdiction.

The Court, however, took note of the fact that on many occasions disciplinary authority of the State Bar Council does not dispose of the complaint within the stipulated period, as a consequence of which the proceeding stands transferred to the BCI. Looking down upon such practice, the Court said that once a complaint is made by a litigant, it has to follow a definite procedure and is required to be dealt with as per the command of the Act to conclude the disciplinary proceeding within a period of one year from the date of receipt of the complaint or the date of initiation of the proceedings at the instance of the State Bar Council. Not to do something what one is required to do, tantamount to irresponsibility and the prestige of an institution or a statutory body inheres in carrying out the responsibility.

The bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ, hence, directed the State Bar Councils to take a periodical stock of cases in each meeting with regard to the progress of the Disciplinary Committee, find out the cause of delay and guide themselves to act with expediency so that the Council, as a statutory body, does its duty as commanded under the Act. [Ajitsinh Arjunsinh Gohil v. Bar Council of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 351, decided on 06.04.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In the instant writ petition, the petitioner challenged the order of disciplinary authority whereby the petitioner had been inflicted the penalty of dismissal from service which would ordinarily be disqualification for future employment under the Government. Petitioner-an employee of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board pleaded that he was appointed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the respondent and therefore the impugned order could not have been passed by a lower authority being the Member (Administration) of the respondent.

The petitioner further placed before the Court Article 311 of the Constitution that no person shall be dismissed or removed by a authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed. However, the Court rejected the contention out rightly stating that the petitioner was not holding any civil post for which the provision stated by him specifically applies as the respondent was an autonomous institution which is neither Central nor State government. Accordingly, the Court held that the petition was devoid of merits. [J.S. Sehrawat v. Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 7219, decided on 27.02.2017]