November 21, 2017
The Right to Information Act, 2005 is a beneficial legislation and has been enacted with a view to strengthen the position of general public. Under the RTI, any person who desires to obtain any information shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed to the Public Information Officer (PIO).
Here it would be pertinent to mention that the RTI Act also enumerates penalties in the event that the PIO does not furnish RTI reply.
From the Statute
Section 20 of RTI Act in this context states that where the Central Information Commission (CIC) or the State Information Commission (SIC), is of the opinion that the PIO has without any reasonable cause:
- Refused to receive an application for information; or
- Has not furnished information within the time specified; or
- Malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information; or
- Destroyed information which was the subject of the request; or
- Obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information
Then the CIC or SIC shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information has been furnished.
The total amount of such penalty shall not exceed Rs. 25,000/-.
What is specified time within which PIO shall furnish information?
Section 7 of the RTI Act states that the PIO shall on receipt of a request for obtaining information shall as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons as specified under the Act.
Time and again penalty has been imposed by the CIC (Central Information Commission) on Officers who have not furnished reply within the prescribed time.
In a recent case of October, 2017, the applicant requested for award of compensation in view of the gross detriment suffered by him for the inordinate delay of over 2 years in providing the information to him. He stated in line with his grounds of Second Appeal that he had required this information for filing in Civil Court for furtherance of his case and the delay has made the purpose of seeking information redundant.
In reply, the CPIO had stated that the RTI application was filed in 2015, whereas she assumed office only in February, 2016 and provided information to the Appellant on 13.10.2017.
- The Commission in the case took strong note of the flagrant violation of the RTI Act by the concerned Officers and the ignorance of the present CPIO about the pending RTI Applications from the tenure of her predecessor.
- Commission stated that it was incumbent upon the present CPIO to deal with all such pending RTI Applications and not wait for the Commission to issue notice of hearing to provide reply to RTI Applicants.
- That the Appellant having suffered gross detriment due to the delay of over 2 years in providing the information to him. Appellant deserves to be compensated on this account.
In view of the aforesaid, the Commission directed the public authority to compensate the Appellant by an amount of Rs.5000/- for the inconvenience and detriment caused to him.