Penalty for asking for fee after the stipulated period
The appellant sought information about recruitment of Safai Karmachari in MCD such as the number of applications received for the post of Safai Karamchari, the number of candidate who faced interview, the number of letters issued to candidates for attending interview, copy of dispatch register etc. The PIO asked for additional fees for photocopies of some documents after the stipulated time period of 30 days. The appellant submitted that despite the order of the FAA to provide the information, the PIO demanded fees.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the appellant has been unnecessarily harassed by the PIO and made to come in a second appeal to the Commission. The Commission observed that harassment of a common man by public authorities is socially abhorring and legally impermissible. It may harm him personally but the injury to society is far more grievous. Crime and corruption thrive and prosper in the society due to lack of public resistance. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing against it. Therefore the award of compensation for harassment by public authorities not only compensates the individual, satisfies him personally but helps in curing social evil. It may result in improving the work culture and help in changing the outlook. Under Section 19(8)(a) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including (i) by providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form; (ii) by appointing a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be; (iii) by publishing certain information or categories of information; (iv) by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records; (v) by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials; (vi) by providing it with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 4; of the RTI Act, the Commission directed the public authority to grant a compensation of Rs. 2000/- to the appellant for the loss and detriment suffered by him.
The Commission also issued a Show cause notice to the appellant for asking reason why penalty should be levied upon them. When the PIO submitted that the RTI application was forwarded to the deemed PIO within 5 days of receipt of the RTI application, the Commission asked the deemed PIO the reasons for this delay and for asking additional fees after the lapse of 30 days. The deemed PIO had no explanation to offer but claimed that his LDC did not do the work properly. As it became clear to the Commission that the deemed PIO had failed in discharging his duties under the RTI Act, the Commission levied a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- under Section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 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, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act on him for a delay of over 100 days.
Citation: Mr. Devraj Manav v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002287/15528