Friday, August 2, 2013

Failed candidates could endanger lives of PSC interviewer; their personal details out of ambit of RTI Act

Disclosure of names and addresses of members of Interview Board of PSC would ex facie endanger their lives; such disclosure would serve no fruitful public purpose

In the instant case the Bihar Public Service Commission (‘the Commission’) published advertisement to fill up post of 'State Examiner of Questioned Documents in police Laboratory’. The advertisement stated that written examination would be conducted if adequate number of applications were received. Since limited applications were received, selection was done on basis of viva voce test. The respondent filed an application before the Commission seeking information regarding interview conducted for aforesaid post. The Commission furnished all information. However, particulars of members of interview Board were not furnished.  Aggrieved assessee filed the writ in HC which was also dismissed. Assessee challenged the judgment of the learned Single Judge before the Division Bench of that Court which held in favour of assessee.

On appeal, the Supreme Court held as under:

1) The disclosure of names and addresses of the members of the Interview Board would ex facie endanger their lives or physical safety. The possibility of a failed candidate attempting to take revenge from such persons couldn’t be ruled out. Disclosure was likely to expose the members of the interview Board to harm and it would serve no public purpose;

2) Furthermore, the view of the High Court in the judgment under appeal that element of bias could be traced and would be crystallized only if the names and addresses of the interviewers were furnished, was without any substance;

3) The element of bias could hardly be correlated with the disclosure of the names and addresses of the interviewers. The transparency that was expected to be maintained in such process would not take within its ambit the disclosure of the information called for regarding the names and particulars of examiners;

4) Transparency in such cases was relatable to the process where selection was based on collective wisdom and collective marking. Marks were required to be disclosed but disclosure of individual names would hardly be relevant either to the concept of transparency or for proper exercise of the right to information. The judgment of HC was to be set aside and the Commission was not bound to disclose the information asked for by the applicant - Bihar Public Service Commission v. Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi [2013] 35 333 (SC)

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