For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Thursday, March 22, 2007

ACR row: IAS lobby dents iron curtain

Paul John | TNN , Gandhinagar: Babus from Gujarat’s power corridors locked horns with the General Administration Department (GAD) at the state information commission and demanded copies of their annual confidential reports (ACR) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
For years, the ACR used to be the leash in the hands of politicians to ensure that bureaucrats tow their line. One adverse remark in the ACR could ruin their careers. Worse still, the ACRs were never revealed to IAS officers.
On Wednesday, industries’ commissioner Arvind Agarwal, who was refused a copy of his own ACR, appeared on behalf of the IAS fraternity and argued before state chief information commissioner R N Das that there was no fiduciary (holding something in trust for another) relationship between senior assessing officers and the GAD. He added that every officer had the right to know how he was assessed by his senior in a particular tenure. Agarwal then demanded a copy of his ACR. The GAD, while citing its fiduciary relationship with the assessing officer, had long been refusing IAS officers a peek into their ACRs. Besides, GAD’s November 14, 2005 circular had prohibited giving ACRs and related records under section 8(e) of the RTI Act. This circular, Agarwal argued, was void as the RTI Act superceded the circular.
About the issue whether members of the public can access a copy of any officer’s ACR, RTI activist Rahul Mangaonkar argued before SIC that IAS officers perform their duty in public interest and that every citizen had the right to know how an officer was assessed by his seniors. When Das asked GAD public information officer (PIO) Harsh Brahmbhatt as to which part in the ACR was actually confidential, Brahmbhatt said, “the overall assessment column”. After hearing the arguments of both sides, the SIC reserved its decision on the ACR for a later date.
Publication: Times Of India Ahmedabad; Date:2007 Mar 14; Section:Ahmedabad; Page Number 3

No comments: