Use of consumer protection act by RTI applicants on a rise
There has been confusion in the minds of some quarters whether a citizen can simultaneously seek damages under the Consumer Protection Act for any deficiency in services provide under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The readers may refer to the article “Additional remedy for RTI applicants under the Consumer Protection Act” link at - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/additional-remedy-rti-applicants-under-consumer-pr-2642.The consumer protection law can be used to sue the public authority for inadequate service if it can be proved in the consumer court that there was a deficiency in services which led to some loss.
Many different consumer courts have awarded compensation to right to information applicants for delay or denial of information holding that the applicants were consumers of the government as an application fee was paid which entitled them to obtain information within 30 days. Some of the cases are compiled below:-
- “Can the Consumer protection Act and RTI Act be invoked simultaneously?” A former employee of a Technical Institute was terminated from service after an inquiry. He filed an RTI application seeking details about alleged out-of-round promotion of some of his colleagues in 2008. As no information was provided to him, he filed an appeal before the First Appellate Authority who did not pass any order. On his second appeal, the State Information Commission ordered the Institute to provide the information to him free of cost. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Pune ordered the institution to pay compensation of Rs. 15,000/- to the applicant for delay in providing him information sought by him which he claimed would otherwise hurt his case pending in the Bombay High Court. Please refer to - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/case-law/can-consumer-protection-act-and-rti-act-be-invoked-658
- “Compensation under Consumer protection Act for deficiency in services under the RTI Act”. The Chandigarh Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum headed by its President P D Goel and Member Dr Madanjit Kaur Sahota have directed the Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) to pay Rs. 50,000 as compensation to a RTI applicant. Further, the Forum has directed the PFC Assistant Public Information Officer to pay Rs 5,000 to the applicant.Please refer to - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/compensation-under-consumer-protection-act-deficie-1396
- “Consumer Redressal Forum grants compensation to a RTI applicant”. The District Consumer Redressal Forum of Pune directed the Directorate of Technical Education Department (DTED) to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 for a delay in providing information to a RTI applicant. Please refer to - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/consumer-redressal-forum-grants-compensation-rti-a-2677
- N Arasakumaram was awarded Rs. 5,000 compensation as compensation by a consumer forum of Tamil Nadu. He had filed an right to information application relating to answers in a test for recruiting teachers, and claimed that the delay in response costed him a government job.
- B Ramesh was awarded pay a compensation of Rs. 5,000 by a Chennai consumer forum which held the public information officer of Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (SIC) liable for deficiency in service for failing to provide information.
These orders have opened up new possibilities for the unsatisfied RTI applicant who can now file petitions against public information officers and public authorities to seek compensation.