HC: Penalty proceedings u/s 20 for non compliance of the order passed by the SIC
Information sought by 87 year old Appellant was denied on the ground that it pertains to third party could not be provided in view of Section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the Right to Information Act. The appellant preferred First Appeal before the appellate authority which did not take up the appeal to dispose it within stipulated period. On second appeal to State Information Commission, the SIC directed to provide the information. After the decision of the State Information Commissioner, the respondents took an altogether different stand and stated that the information, which is sought for, is not available.
Arguments by the parties before the Court
- The appellant argued that this flip flop by the authorities for not providing the information cannot be accepted right from the beginning till the order passed by the State Information Commissioner, the only stand taken was that the information, sought for by the appellant pertains to third party. Nowhere, the stand was taken that the information was destroyed in earthquake natural calamity.
- The respondent argued that a team had undertaken search of the record, however, such record was not available and the report of such team work was forwarded to the appellant. An affidavit was filed on behalf of the State, stating that such non availability of record is on account of natural calamity of earthquake in the year 2001.
View of the Court
The High Court noted that the information sought by the petitioner was denied claiming that it pertains to third party. As against that stand, now, stand being taken that the record is not available cannot be accepted by the Court.
- The Court held that the respondent authorities more particularly, Public Information Officer and Mamlatdar, Bhachau has acted in a callous manner as a result of which the appellant had been deprived of from the right of Right to Information.
- The Court ruled that it is a fit case where the penalty proceedings under Section 20 of the Right to Information Act needs to be initiated in view of non compliance of the order passed by the State Information Commissioner as well as the casual manner in which the application of the petitioner to seek right to information under the RTI Act has been dealt with.
- The matter was relegated back to the State Information Commissioner to initiate proceedings under Section 20 of the RTI Act, 2005.
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2020/CIC/1496
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission