Penalty on PIO and refund of fee for delay under RTI
The appellant had filed a complaint of fraud with the office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Later, he filed an application under RTI seeking copies of all documents relating to his complaint, the action taken against the accused persons and decisions of DC of MCD and Deputy Assessment & Collection (A & C) of MCD. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided the copies of the complaint but denied the rest of the information stating that MCD is not an Investigating Agency and hence no action has been taken and no decision has been passed. A further fee of Rs. 590/- was collected from the appellant as a cost of providing the information. The First Appellate Authority ordered for disclosure of information. The appellant argued that despite paying the further fee no information has been provided to him. He also produced the evidence that the MCD had filed a complaint with the Police about the said fraud and despite the police complaint the PIO gave the false information.
View of CIC
The respondents submitted that on a later date, photocopies of all the files had been given to the applicant. The Central Information Commission (CIC) ordered the PIO to refund the additional fee of Rs. 590/- charged from the appellant. Under section 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. of the RTI Act, the Commission levied a penalty of Rs. 12,500/- on the PIO for the delay of 50 days and observing that the PIO had failed to submit any reasonable cause for the delay.
As per section 20 of the RTI Act, the Commission can impose a penalty if the PIO refuses to receive an application; does not furnishes the information within the stipulated time; denies the request for information with a malafide intent; knowingly gives an incorrect, incomplete or misleading information; destroys the information which was the subject of the request; obstructs the disclosure in any manner. If the PIO is found guilty to any of the above causes the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently lies on him.
Citation: Mr. Syed Waqar AIi v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/003750/17452Penalty
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/246
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission