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November 21, 2022

Know how an applicant under RTI receive compensation for a delayed response ?

by Admin in Compliance Law

Know how an applicant under RTI receive compensation for a delayed response ?

What is RTI

Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It is an initiative taken by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to provide a– RTI Portal Gateway to the citizens for quick search of information on the details of first Appellate Authorities,PIOs etc. amongst others, besides access to RTI related information / disclosures published on the web by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments

The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens,promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government,contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed.The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

The penalty can be imposed, if the PIO has:

  1. Refused to receive an application
  2. Not furnished the requested information within 30 days of receiving the application
  3. Malafidely denied the request for information
  4. Knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information
  5. Destroyed information which was the subject of the request
  6. Obstructed in any manner, in furnishing the information

The amount of penalty shall be Rs. 250.00 per day, till the information is furnished or the application is received, subject to a maximum of Rs. 25,000.00. The penalty has to be paid by the PIO from his salary and not by the Public Authority. The CIC or the SIC will give the PIO a reasonable opportunity to be heard before the penalty is imposed. However the burden of proving that he acted reasonably shall be on the PIO.

Compensation provision

Under Section 198(8)(b) of the Act, the CIC or the SIC, can require the Public Authority to compensate the complainant/appellant for any loss or detriment suffered. The complainant/appellant should be able to justify the claim for compensation as well as the amount of compensation sought.

Public information officers (PIOs) are frequently threatened with fines by information commissioners for failing to provide information required by the Right to Information (RTI) Act or for giving incomplete or inaccurate information. A recent RTI petitioner who requested Rs 25,000 in compensation for harassment and a delay in providing information actually received the money, despite the fact that these penalties are frequently not even collected from the PIOs!

Any Information Officer who wilfully provides wrong or misleading information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to any application, can be penalised Rs 25,000 by the Commissioner, plus disciplinary action can be recommended against him

Maharashtra state information commissioner slammed the Rs25,000 compensation on PIO from the state agricultural commissionerate. However, since she had retired, the onus was put on this public authority itself. 

An enthusiastic RTI applicant who utilises the system frequently and runs a clinic in Pune said, I was shocked to discover that I had actually received the Rs25,000 from the agricultural department two months after the information commission’s order.

The founder of RBI katta advice that any RTI applicant harassed for information in the form of delay or denial can seek compensation, the applicant, in his second appeal and during the second appeal hearing, asked for it.

“Section 19 of the RTI Act contains a provision for compensation for the citizen, and I have been advising persons to request such compensation. PIOs frequently become the biggest barrier to sharing information and getting away with the public authority without any accountability or openness mandated by the sunshine law. citizens are empowered to be compensated if public servants do not abide by their duties under RTI

What precisely is the information that applicant requested? Although the case dates back to 2016, the second appeal was just heard a short while ago. There was a backlash against the public examination held to fill 730 openings in eight departments of the agricultural commissionerate through student protests and media coverage.

The exam was administered by the Maharashtra state examination board, which also forwarded the results to the agriculture commissionerate. The results showed a few irregularities, including a noticeable gap of 30 marks between the finishers in first through fifth place, who received 181–182 marks, and the finisher in sixth place, who received 150 marks. Nearly 25 individuals took the test, and only two of them passed; they were all from the same village. The fundamental issue was that mark sheets had been tampered with. In the public interest, Dr. Gaikwad subsequently made a request for information under the RTI Act.

Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 encapsulates that information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, unless the CPIO or SPIO or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information should be exempted from disclosure. Further, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or the State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. In common parlance. the expression “personal information” is normally used for name, address, occupation, physical and mental status, medical status, financial status of the person. The expression is also used with respect to one’s hobbies like painting, music, sports, etc. Such information may be treated as confidential since one would not like to share it with any other person. However, there are circumstances when it becomes necessary to disclose some of this information as it is in larger public interest.

The applicant filed the appealed to First Appellate Authorities (FAA) the decision after being dissatisfied with the decision, and the FAA requested that the PIO release the information. The PIO, however, did not present it. The applicant therefore called on the Pune zone’s state information commissioner’s door. He added that he ought to have access to the same information as lawmakers or members of the parliamentary assembly do (MLAs). This infuriated the information commissioner, who may have used this as an excuse to object to the monetary compensation that applicant was demanding.

The applicant subsequently acquired the information, but it is a different tale. He has been submitting RTIs for issues facing regular people, such as bus services, 7/12 extracts of land in rural regions, and other issues.

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