Excess work and absence of staff not a valid ground for delay under RTI: High Court
The High Court of Punjab and Haryana has ruled that the excuses like shortage of staff and additional workload cannot be accepted as valid grounds for delay in supplying information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. Mr. Lal Singh Tiwana was the State Public Information Officer of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust. For a delay of over five months in supplying information to the RTI applicant Gurwinder jeet Singh, the State Information Commission imposed a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- against the PIO vide an order dated 14th June 2010. The PIO, Mr. Tiwana, filed a petition before the High Court on the grounds that:
(i) The Ludhiana Improvement Trust was working with only 40% of the sanctioned staff strength.
(ii) There was a heavy rush for the registration of plots under a scheme which was expiring, and
(iii) Additional work of census was being carried out ny the staff.
The bench of Justice Augustine George Masih held that if such excuses are accepted, it would make the RTI Act redundant and frustrate the object for which RTI Act has been enacted. Such internal reasons cannot be treated as a defence for not supplying information under the provisions of the RTI Act.
This judgment has grave consequences for the government servants. All public servants would henceforth first compile the information and do their regular work.
(CWP No. 15850/2011 Lal Singh Tiwana v. State of Punjab)