Maharashtra State Information Commission grants a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs
In, what is regarded as the highest compensation awarded by an Information Commission in the country, the Konkan bench of Maharashtra State Information Commission (SIC) has directed State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) to grant a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to an applicant who filed an application under the right to information (RTI) Act.
Around 300 sq ft of land of the applicant Nitin Desai was taken up to install the transformer and it could not be used. In 2012, he filed an application under the RTI Act seeking information with respect to the permission about the transformer installed on his land. The public information officer (PIO) did not reply to the RTI application. However, during the hearing before the SIC, the PIO submitted that verbal permission was taken from the applicant before using the land. As per rules, there is no provision for verbal permission. The SIC imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000/- on the PIO. The SIC also issued a show cause notice to the PIO asking why a compensation of Rs 20 lakh should not be provided to the applicant. The SIC directed the public authority to grant a hefty compensation of Rs 5 lakh compensation and submit a compliance report by December 1, 2014.
Thanksi Thekkekara of the Konkan bench of SIC ordered the compensation on hearing the complaint that the applicant was first denied information and then given misleading information. Section 19(8)(b) 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 compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the RTI Act says that in its decision, the Information Commission has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered.
The compensation order for alleged harassment has received limelight for the high quantum. Some activists have criticised the order on the pretest that it is ultimately the tax payer’s money which would be used to pay the compensation. Further, it is likely that the public authority may challenge the order for which the lawyer would be paid by the public exchequer.