Kerala High Court directs the PIO to pay a litigation cost to the RTI applicant
Mannatil Kumar, a retired employee of Cochin Shipyard, filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information about the outcome on his representation filed before the Minister of State for Human Resources. In the representation, the applicant had highlighted the alleged denial of growth opportunities of the Cochin Shipyard. As his representation remained unreplied, the RTI application was filed to the public information officer (PIO) of the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development. The PO replied that the representation was “beyond the scope of responsibilities of Minister of State for Human Resources”. On appeal, the Central Information Commission (CIC) rejected his appeal forcing him to approach the Kerala High Court.
Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque observed that the information already available on the records should have been supplied to the petitioner under the RTI Act. The bench held that the applicant had sought information about the nature of disposal of his representation which could have been responded by by either stating that this was considered, not considered, what transpired on the file. The PIO ought to have informed if nothing transpired on the file. Passing a scathing remark that the authorities had not understood the very scope of seeking information under the Act, the High Court directed to pay a litigation cost of Rs. 3,000 to the applicant for refusing to provide him information under the Act. The Kerala High Court allowed the writ petition filed and directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Ministry of HRD to provide the information as sought by the RTI applicant.
Seeking solution to problems and obtaining information under the RTI Act are different as redressal of grievances is not the mandate of the Right to Information Act, but the PIO should provide the facts as existing on the file.