Punjab & Haryana High Court has recently delivered a very important judgement on PENALTY PROVISIONS OF RTI ACT.
The main point is reproduced below:
AIR 2008 PUNJAB AND HARYANA 126
M. M. KUMAR AND T. P. S. MANN, JJ.
Ramesh Sharma & Anr. v. State Information Commission, Haryana & Ors.
C. W. P. No. 1924 of 2008, D/- 8-2-2008.
(A) Right to Information Act (22 of 2005), S. 20(1), (2) — Delay in furnishing information — Imposition of penalty on Public Information Officer — Plea that penalty could be imposed only in cases where there is repeated failure to furnish information and that too without any reasonable cause — Not tenable — Even in cases of simple: delay Commission is empowered under sub-section (2) of S.20 to recommend disciplinary action against State/Central Public Information Officer co under Service Rules applicable to such 8 officers. [Para 5]
(B) Right to Information Act (22 of 2005), Ss. 20(2), 26 — Delay in furnishing information — Imposition of penalty on Public Information Officer under S. 20(1) is mandatory — Public Information Officer cannot avoid the mandatory provisions of sub-section (1) of S. 20 of Act or seek leniency on excuse that training programme as envisaged by S. 26 has not been organised by Govt. encouraging participation of Public Information Officer in development and organisation of o programmes. [Para 6]
In very clear terms the Bench termed the provisions as MANDATORY.
This means that if the PIO has failed to supply the desired information in time then the Hon'ble Commissioners should at the very outset impose the penalty and then ask them why it should not be realised rather then asking them why penalty be not imposed. Just a minor change of language can make drastic changes in the attitude of non cooperative PIO.
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