Material leading to selection of candidates not personal

TNSIC orders varsity to share information sought by petitioner

*S. Vijay Kumar

In a significant order, the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (TNSIC) has held that disclosure of material leading to the appointment of candidates in a competitive selection process would only justify a larger public interest.

The case arises out of a petition by V. Gajendran who was an applicant for the post of Assistant Professor in the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli.

He sought scrutiny of the score and qualification of each candidate who applied for the post to enable him to compare his credentials with those of the selected candidates.
The commission disagreed with the argument of the Public Information Officer that the detail sought by the petitioner was “personal information” relating to selected candidates.

Directing the varsity to share the list of selected candidates, details of papers presented in national/international seminars and information on academic visits made abroad, State Chief Information Commissioner K. Ramanujam said “the requirement of transparency in this matter would justify larger public interest in respect of the selected candidates vis-a-vis the rejected candidates... publications are in journals that can be scrutinised by anybody.”

The marks and qualification details of other candidates could be held exempted under Section 8(1)( j) of the Right to Information Act. “However, in the case of selected candidate the element of larger public interest arises warranting the information to be given to ensure that there was no favouritism in the selection...”

However, the commission said it was not inclined to entertain the request of the petitioner as regards seeking names of members of the interview panel.

Mr Ramanujam cited a Supreme Court ruling in the CBSE vs Aditya Bandhopadhyay case which states that the names or particulars of examiners/coordinators/scrutinisers/head examiners were exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(g) of RTI Act on the ground that if such information were to be disclosed it might endanger their personal safety.

Requirement of transparency would justify larger public interest

K. Ramanujam

State Chief Information Commissioner

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