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CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

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F.No.CIC/AT/A/2008/01255
Dated, the 16th February, 2009.

Appellant : Shri T. Retna Pandian

Respondents : Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC)

In response to Commission’s notice dated 09.01.2009, this matter came up


for hearing on 04.02.2009. Appellant was absent when called. Respondent were
represented by Ms.Hemambika R. Priya, Director (CX) and Shri Rahul Nangare,
Under Secretary.

2. Upon hearing the submissions of the respondents and perusing the


records, it is noted that appellant’s main plea in his second-appeal is about
disclosure of a portion of the note-file in File No.207/36/2006-CX6 of the
Central Board of Excise and Customs.

3. Respondents during the hearing pointed out that the present second-appeal
has been filed by the appellant, Shri T. Retna Pandian ⎯ who claims to be the
General Secretary of an NGO called Fifth Pillar India ⎯ as a sequel to the earlier
second-appeal (Appeal No.CIC/AT/A/2007/00849) filed by one, Mr.Samuel C.
Wilson, a Superintendent of Central Excise, which was rejected by the
Commission through its decision dated 25.09.2007 as the disclosure requirement
was fully met by the respondents.

4. Respondents further stated that since the disclosure requirement in the


present appeal was similar to the earlier one (of Mr.Wilson’s) and, the
disclosures made by them in the earlier appeal were upheld by the Commission,
the respondents decided to tread the same path and allowed the present appellant
access to all the information that was allowed to the previous appellant. While
doing so, the respondents ⎯ as was done in the earlier appeal ⎯ withheld from
the appellant the names and certain confidential portions of the note-file of the
above file under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. Appellant has contested this
position of the respondents.

5. Respondents showed to the Commission the portion of the note-file,


which they had withheld from disclosure to the appellant. It was noted that this
portion deals with a confidential communication from the Commissioner to the
Chief Commissioner about the conduct of their employee, viz. Mr.Samuel C.
Wilson, recommending that vigilance and disciplinary action be initiated against
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Mr.Wilson. Respondents contended that the communication of the Commissioner
to the Chief Commissioner was held by them in a fiduciary capacity and hence
could not be disclosed to the appellant.

6. Respondents, therefore, claimed exemption under Section 8(1)(e) and


8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

7. From the above facts, the Commission notes that the present appellant on
the plea of “unearthing malpractices resulting in huge loss to the exchequer”,
has attempted to agitate before the Commission an issue ⎯ presumably on the
behest of the previous appellant, Mr.Samuel C. Wilson ⎯ which was earlier
decided by the Commission, through its order dated 25.09.2007. On this count,
this appeal merits no consideration as it is hit by Res Judicata. However, I’m
inclined to dispose of the appeal on its merit.

Decision:

8. After considering the submissions of the respondents and on perusing the


records, I hold that the portion of the note-file was properly withheld. The
communications recorded therein was one made confidentially and in trust
between two officers of the public authority about the conduct of one of the
public authority’s employees. Such disclosures are exempt within the scope of
Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. Insofar as the matter contained in that portion of
the note-file ⎯ which was withheld ⎯ related to none other than the employee,
it also comes within the scope of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. In view of the
fact that this information was to become basis for a proposed investigation, it
must be considered as a part of that investigation being its preliminary stage and
its disclosure at this stage would be a premature disclosure, which is bound to
impede the process of the proposed investigation. As such, it comes also within
the scope of Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.

8. In view of the above, this appeal fails. Disallowed.

9. Copy of this decision be sent to the parties.

( A.N. TIWARI )
INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

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