When should a PIO demand ‘further fee’?
The appellant sought information regarding a complaint against deputy Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) such as the certified copies of CVC letter in relation to the said complaint, the Action Taken Report on the complaint, and the pending RDA & police case list with name, designation etc. He also wanted to know the complete details of the officers / official suspended by the Commissioner, MCD along with the copy of charge sheet and suspension order. After the order of the First Appellate Authority (FAA) directing disclosure of information, the Public Information Officer (PIO) asked the appellant to pay an additional fee for 190 pages of information.
During the hearing, the respondent stated that the Right to Information (RTI) application submitted online by appellant was not received by the PIO. He also submitted that he was an Assistant Law Officer (ALO) in the MCD and he demanded for additional fee because he did not know the law. He further claimed that subsequently he realized that he had raised an illegal demand of money from the appellant and hence has sent the complete information to the appellant. The appellant argued that the information sent to him consisted of only 09 pages and was related to one of his queries only.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the PIO to send the complete information to the appellant observing that this was gross inefficiency and carelessness by the MCD officers and such behaviour by a law officer in the Vigilance Department were completely unacceptable. Under section 19(8)(b), the Commission awarded a compensation of Rs. 2000/- to the appellant for the loss and detriment suffered by him in pursing the appeal and getting the information late. The Commission also issued a show cause notice to the PIO and directed to give his reasons why penalty should not be levied on him 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 Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Citation: Mr. Harish Kumar v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vigilance Department in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2012/000790+000791/18721
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/361
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission