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' ACRs of army personnel need not be disclosed'.

THE disclosure of annual confidential reports ( ACRs) of armed forces personnel was not needed as this does not contribute to any public interests, the Central Information Commission ( CIC) has held in a significant ruling.

The ACRs, which have a direct bearing on a government official's career progression, have always been a matter of huge speculation and curiosity. Many individuals have even alleged bias and other shortcomings in preparation of these reports.

In its recent order, a multiple bench of the CIC upheld the establishment's view that such a disclosure could seriously undermine the institution's harmony while also tainting all future ACRs, which are supposedly fair and objective view given by colleagues and superiors.

In this case, petitioner Hardev Singh wanted the Indian Army to disclose his " confidential reports earned in the rank of Major General, including the endorsements of figurative assessments and the pen pictures by all the reporting officers." While disallowing his demand, the commission reemphasised the strict conditions under which condensed disclosure of ACRs could be made to retired individuals.

" It is also possible that many officers may not like their assessment by their superiors to go into the hands of all and sundry. If the reports are good, these may attract envy and if these ( are) bad, ( then) ridicule and derision," the CIC stated.

It further endorsed the army's view that the disclosure may adversely affect interpersonal relationship and result in " finger pointing" in the fraternity of retired officers.

Given these issues, the CIC bench emphasised that ACRs need not be supplied, and only overall ratings given by officers may be communicated to the requester. That too, the information can only be provided after a gap of three years from the date of retirement of the requester and will only be for the last five years of service, it added.

While arguing his case, Singh had alleged inherent shortcomings in the system of ACRs which affect the career progress of officers. He had said that he wanted to highlight the issues of " subjectivity in ACR writing."

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 17, 2012
Words:355
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