The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Customs Department to make public a list of officers caught red-handed for smuggling gold and heroin, and other illegal activities.
The CIC also called for making public details of officers convicted or jailed for giving false statements or evidence.
Such data cannot be considered personal information, as held by the Customs Department, and should be made available in the public interest, the CIC said.
The direction came in response to a Right To Information request to the Chief Commissioner of Customs in Amritsar, asking for information on officers caught, convicted or jailed for smuggling over the last 10 years.
The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) responded by saying that the data requested “pertained to personal information of employees,” and hence could not be provided.
In response to questioning in the appeal case, the CPIO also said no such list of convicted officers was maintained by the Department.
In his ruling on Friday, Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka said the information should be disclosed voluntarily “for the sake of transparency and accountability in the public authority.”
Citing prior cases, he held that “such information cannot be held as a personal information and such information deserves to be given to expose the corrupt person in the public.”
Pointing out that the purpose of the RTI Act was to make public authorities more transparent and accountable to the public, he directed the department to release the requested information as it was “in the larger public interest and instrumental in achieving good governance”.