Bombay High Court issues a notice to SIC for lower penalty
A single-judge bench of Justice Prasanna Varale of the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has issued notice to State Information Commission (SIC) for imposing lesser penalty on a Public Information Officer (PIO) than that envisaged by law. Notice has been issued to the Information Commissioner of the Vidarbha region SB Sahastrabuddhe for imposing a penalty of Rs. 5,000 instead of Rs. 25,000 as provided under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. On the petition filed by Anil Agre, against an order passed by the SIC, Justice Prasanna Varale has issued notices to other respondents - Joint Transport Commissioner Prasad Mahajan, Deputy Transport Commissioner and RR Jadhav, Public Information Officer (PIO) Prasad Mahajan in transport department where they have been directed to file an affidavit within six weeks.
Earlier, an application was filed by Agre under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 requesting for some information regarding 'border check posts'. However, no information was provided within 30 days, and instead, the PIO demanded a fee of Rs. 8,374 and Rs. 11,300 respectively. The SIC directed the respondents to supply the information free of cost and imposed a penalty of Rs. 5000/- on the PIO. The petitioner claimed that part of the information was received after 190 days while the complete and correct information to the petitioner even after one year. Therefore, the petitioner argued for imposing the maximum punishment of Rs. 25,000/- as per Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act on the PIO. As the SIC imposed a penalty of only Rs. 5000/- on the PIO, the petitioner submitted that it is a clear violation of the laws and the SIC has no authority to reduce the amount of penalty.