Should a PIO be a judge in his own case?
The Applicant sought information about his complaint regarding being manhandling by an Drugs Inspector which was denied under section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; of the RTI Act. The First Appellate Authority noted that it is a peculiar case since the PIO and the officer against whom information has been sought by the Applicant are one and the same and that it will be proper to ask some other officer to give reply to the RTI application. In compliance with the order of the Appellate Authority, the APIO furnished point wise information. The Applicant filed a second appeal before the Commission seeking once again photocopies of all the related documents. The Commission directed the Appellant to obtain the attested copies of all the documents in person from the office of the Appellate Authority. The Commission also directed the PIO to show cause as to why penalty u/s 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. should not be imposed on him for denying the information with seemingly malafide intention and also for not complying with the order of the Appellate Authority.
In a case involving oneself, a PIO should request the FAA to depute someone else to reply to an application. One cannot be a judge in his own case.
Citation: Shri. Mahesh Kumar v. Drugs Control Department in File No: CIC/AD/A/2011/002285