TOI-15-09-UPSC by dineshkollam



UPSC won’t share public info
Available On Govt Websites, But Not For Disclosure Under RTI
Rema Nagarajan | TIG

New Delhi: The Right to Information Act was, we thought, supposed to give people
access to information that was hitherto not available. But the way the Union Public
Service Commission (UPSC) interprets the law, it turns out that even information that
was publicly available earlier is now being treated as not for disclosure.
  TOI put in an application to the UPSC under the RTI about a month back, asking for
information on the domicile, educational background, gender and such details of
candidates selected for civil services.
  After almost the full 30-day period given under the RTI for the concerned body to
respond, we have got a list of those selected without any of these details. The reason
cited: All of these are, according to the UPSC, “personal information”.
  In his response to TOI’s application, M P Singh, the Central Public Information Officer
(CPIO) of the UPSC claimed that disclosure of such “personal information of the
candidates has no relation to any public interest or activity and therefore cannot be
shared”. He invoked a provision of the RTI which says the government is not obliged to
divulge information of a personal nature which is unrelated to public interest.
  What does not seem to have struck the UPSC is that almost all of this information —
and more details like cadre, salary and current posting of IAS and IPS officers — are
made available to the public on the websites of the Department of Personnel and Training
and of the home ministry.
  If the information is “personal”, therefore, the privacy of the people concerned has
already been violated by the government. It is also not clear how UPSC is able to argue
that educational qualifications of bureaucrats is a matter of no “public interest”.
  The CPIO’s letter ends with the advice that the applicant can appeal to the appellate
authority against his decision, an advice TOI has taken. The appeal has been filed and it
will be interesting to see what happens to it.

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