New Delhi: Noting that “Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion”, the Central Information Commission has directed the government to disclose the names of IAS officers who faced disciplinary proceedings in the last 10 years. Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said the disclosure of information was in the larger public interest as these officers occupy high government positions.
“The Commission is convinced with the aspect of larger public interest in disclosure of names of IAS officers against whom disciplinary inquiries have been initiated under Rule 8 of the AIS (Discipline and Appeal) Rules because they occupy high government positions and lead to the famous idiom ‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion’ for ensuring transparency and probity in public life,” Sinha said. The Information Commissioner was adjudicating the RTI appeal of Lucknow-based Nutan Thakur who had sought the list of IAS officers against whom disciplinary enquiries under Rule 8 of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules were initiated since January 1, 2008.
The phrase ‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion’ is used in the context that public figures must not be suspected of being part of any wrongdoing. The Department of Personnel and Training had provided the list of 14 IAS officers on Central Deputation against whom the disciplinary proceedings were initiated.
Sinha said Thakur had not restricted her requirement to a particular category of IAS officers depending on their posting. “In view of foregoing, CPIO is directed to procure the list of names of the relevant IAS officers sought in the RTI Application working in the State cadres as well from Administrative Vigilance Department Desk of the DoPT and provide the same to the Appellant,” he said.
Sinha, however, warned the department official who allowed Thakur to inspect personal records of the IAS officers. “First appellate authority has grossly erred in providing opportunity of inspection of personal records pertaining to disciplinary proceedings of IAS officers to the appellant,” he noted.
He said details of departmental inquiries initiated under Rule 8 of AIS (Discipline and Appeal Rules) against IAS officers, being their personal information, are exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. Sinha cited the Supreme Court order on Subhash Agrawal’s petition wherein the scope of “personal information” has been exemplified and professional records, including qualification, performance, evaluation reports, ACRs, disciplinary proceedings, were declared as personal information.