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Can’t use RTI to know the reason you were rejected, UP Police tells constable aspirants

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Over 15 lakh candidates had applied for the 28,915 vacancies announced by the UP Police Recruitment and Promotion Board in 2015.

New Delhi: A recent notification by the Uttar Pradesh government announcing recruitment results for the police force came with a curious caveat: No information pertaining to the results will be provided under the RTI.

This is a blatant violation of the RTI Act, which mandates every public body to be transparent in its dealings with the common man.

The notification dated 18 May, which announced the results for vacancies among police constables and Provincial Armed Constabulary, lists the exact procedures and criteria for selection, but adds: “No application will be entertained or considered under the Right to Information Act, 2005, with regard to the information being provided through this notice.”

More than 15 lakh candidates had applied for the 28,915 vacancies announced by the UP Police Recruitment and Promotion Board in 2015.

ThePrint reached the UP Police public relations officer for an explanation, but he did not respond until the time of publishing this report.

‘An illegal and unconstitutional notification’

“It is absolutely illegal to arbitrarily declare that certain information will not be granted under the RTI,” said RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj.

By simply declaring that any “related” information will not be shared, the authorities are granting themselves blanket exception from a Central act, she explained.

“‘Related information’ is a catchall phrase,” she said, adding that the authorities could use such a caveat to deny even basic information, like a certified photocopy of one’s result.

However, the clause could have more sinister consequences, Meerut-based activist Ravikanth said.

“Such a provision can be used to block certain candidates with complete opaqueness, with the candidates having no means to question the grounds for their rejection,” he said, calling the notification “unconstitutional”.

“This single notification violates the Right to Information of 15 lakh candidates in one stroke,” he added.

Rejected candidates without answers

Ravikanth cites Vishal Gautam, a candidate from the Scheduled Caste category, as a case in point. Gautam was not recruited in the exercise despite scoring higher than the cut-off set for reserved category candidates and, with the RTI out of bounds, he has no way to find out why.

Ravikanth is expected to soon move the National Commission for Scheduled Castes to highlight Gautam’s case.

To be sure, according to the UP RTI Rules, 2015, any information that “involves answers to the question ‘why’, thus asking for reasons why a certain act was done or not done”, is exempt from the law.

However, according to Bhardwaj, there are other ways to know the reasons for one’s rejection in an exam conducted by a government body, like asking for the documents on which a decision is based.

‘What explains this blanket exemption from RTI?’

Also, Ravikanth said, if a certain provision of RTI rules is used to deny information, it has to be explicitly invoked.

“The official is obliged to invoke the exact rules under which he is denying information…What explains the blanket refusal?” he asked.

While the Supreme Court had recently held that marks for the civil services preliminary examination would not be revealed under the RTI, no such exemption exists for other government bodies.

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