|S.No.||HIGH COURT CASE||DATE OF JUDGMENT||JUDGMENT|
|1||Letters Patent Appeal No. 1319 of 2013 in Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 17727 of 2008||04 Apr, 2018||Appellants: The State of Bihar and Ors. Vs. Respondent: The State Information Commissioner and Ors.
|2||Writ Petition No. 1367 of 2012 (M/S)||03 Apr, 2018||Appellants: Arvind Kumar Lohani and Ors. Vs. Respondent: Uttarakhand State Information Commission and Ors.
RTI applicant sought certain information from the petitioners who are said to be Information Officers as appointed under the Act. The information regarding almost all the points, for which, the information was sought was answered, but still, the applicant feeling dissatisfied with the information provided preferred an Appeal before the Appellate Authority. The Departmental Appellate Authority/Commissioner had called upon the applicant to appear before the Appellate Authority and to put up his version in support of his appeal but he deliberately avoided to participate in the proceedings and he did not appear before the Departmental Appellate Authority. On account of non participation in the Appeal, the Appeal was dismissed by the. On the allegation of non-supply of the information as well as the Appellate Order, Second Appeal was filed before the Uttarakhand State Information Commissioner. The Second Appellate Authority directed to issue show cause notice against the Public Information Officer as to why a penalty may not be imposed against him. Simultaneously, there was also a direction to issue show cause notice against the Information Officer calling upon his explanation as to why an order may not be passed under Section 19(8)(ka) for directing to conduct a departmental inquiry against him. It is this order which was challenged by the petitioner No. 1 in his personal capacity by availing the professional services of the office of the Chief Standing Counsel and its machinery.
4. The issue which was for consideration before the Hon’ble High Court was whether on imposition of penalty on the Public Information Officer, as appointed under the Right to Information Act of 2005, the penalty provided u/s. 20, which happens to be a liability in persona could be challenged, by him in person, by availing the professional services of the Chief Standing Counsel and its machinery and state money can be used for the said purpose, contrary to the provisions and purpose of their appointments under Legal Remembrance Manual.
The present case was filed by the then Public Information Officer, who has been imposed upon a penalty u/s. 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 by the impugned order under challenge. He has preferred the writ petition against the impugned order, where a penalty of Rs. 10,000/- has been imposed upon him in his individual capacity.
The Court felt that once a penalty is imposed u/s. 20 of the RTI Act on the Information Officer, as constituted u/s. 5 of the Act, it would be the officer in person responsible for the penalty, as such, if the officer concerned feels aggrieved against the imposition of penalty and wants to agitate the cause before a superior court, he could do so in his individual capacity and for the said purpose, he can only file a writ petition after engaging a private counsel and not through an Additional Chief Standing Counsel or Chief Standing Counsel, as defined under the L.R. Manual. As such, this Court feels that this writ petition as preferred by the petitioner in his individual capacity could not have been filed through the office of the Chief Standing Counsel.
For the above reason the writ petition was dismissed on this ground itself, leaving it open for the petitioner to engage a private advocate and to file writ petition.
|3||WP(C).No. 41528 of 2016 (M)||17 Feb, 2017||Lt. Col. K. Jainenndra Kumar (Retd.) Vs. State Information Commission
Decision of High Court
This writ petition is filed by the petitioner challenging Ext.P9 order passed by the 1st respondent dated 30.11.2016 under the Right to Information Act. According to the petitioner, Ext.P9 order is passed by the 1st respondent without issuing notice to the petitioner. On a perusal of Ext.P9 order and from the submissions made across the bar, I am of the considered opinion that, there was no notice to the petitioner and therefore, Ext.P9 order passed by the 1st respondent suffers from grave illegality of not providing an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner, therefore the same transforms as an arbitrary order. Therefore, I set aside Ext.P9 and I direct the 1st respondent to reconsider the appeal after providing sufficient opportunity of hearing to the petitioner and all other interested or affected persons and attain finality to the same, within six months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment.
|4||WP(C).No. 37463 of 2016 (G)||30 Nov, 2016||Dr. K.R. Biju Vs. The Appellate Authority and others
Decision of High Court
These writ petitions are filed by the petitioner challenging the orders passed by the respective statutory authorities under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Apparently, a further appeal lies to the State Commission and petitioner has not invoked the authority of the State Commission. Viewed in any circumstances, I do not think that these writ petitions are maintainable under law.
Therefore, these writ petitions are closed, leaving open the liberty of the petitioner to approach the State Commission.
|5||CWP No. 8046 of 2013||03 Nov, 2016||State Bank of India vs Central Information Commission and another
The information which has been sought is regarding a list of cases where actual possession of the properties under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 was sought for, and whether they have been sold or not because of higher reserve price fixation etc. The information had been denied by the bank on account of fact that it relates to commercial confidence of the bank, and hence exempted under section 8(1)(d) of the Act. Notice of the appeal was issued on 1212.2013 for 28.02.2013 and the same was disposed of, on the same day. Notice of hearing was only received on 28.02.2013 at 1:00 p.m., therefore, hearing could not be attended by the official of the bank and an opportunity of hearing was again sought.
The Hon'ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana held that the petitioner is a bank, and had only been put to notice on 12.02.2013 for 28.02.2013. Summons were received on the same date and it would not have been practically possible for it to prepare its defence, and appear on the same day, as has been notified in the summons/notice of hearing. In such circumstances, it would be appropriate, if the respondent- Commission decides the appeal after allowing the petitioner bank-to participate in the hearing. The impugned order is set aside. The appeal is remanded to be decided afresh by the respondent-Commission.
|6||WP(C).No. 21773 of 2016 (V)||05 Jul, 2016||Amal K.Sajeev Vs. State Information Commission and others
The essence of the contentions raised by the petitioner is that Section 20 of the Act mandates a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed and the petitioner has not been given an opportunity of being heard before Exhibit P6 order was passed.
Decision of High Court
The judgement of the Division Bench of this Court in W.A. No. 328/2011 is not a judgment rendered in the context of the Right to Information Act. In so far as Section 20 of the Act categorically provides that the party shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before an order of penalty is passed, it is incumbent on the first respondent to afford the petitioner an opportunity of being head, no matter whether the petitioner has sought an opportunity of being heard or nor.
In the result, Exhibit P6 order is quashed. The first respondent is directed to pass fresh orders in the matter, after affording the petitioner an opportunity of being heard.
|7||LPA 34/2015 &C.M. No. 1287/2015||17 Apr, 2015||SUBHASH CHANDRA Versus THE REGISTRAR, SUPREME COURT OF INDIA & ORS
The applicant sought details of medical facilities availed by the individual judges and their family members of the Supreme Court in last three years including the information relating to expenses on private treatment in India or abroad.
On CIC’s directions, the CPIO provided the total amount of medical expenses for three years informing that information in respect of individual judges is not maintained. CIC’s further directions to the Public Authority to ensure that arrangements are made in future for maintaining the information, judge-wise, as expected in Section 4(1)(a) of the RTI Act, was challenged in the High Court.
No larger public interest is involved in seeking the details of the medical facilities availed by the individual judges. The court held that in the absence of any larger public interest, no direction whatsoever can be issued under Section 19(8) (a)(iv) of the Act by the CIC. Reimbursement of medical expenses being personal information, the Court was of the view that providing such information would undoubtedly amount to invasion of the privacy. The Court, therefore held that the order passed by the CIC dated 01.02.2012 is unsustainable and the same has rightly been set aside by the learned Single Judge.
|8||W.P. (C) 2939/2014||05 Dec, 2014||R.K. Jain vs Chairman, Income Tax Settlement Commission & Ors.
Section 19(3) Appeal to Commission. Constitution of India Writ Petition Article 226. The petitioner Challenged the order dated 14.02.2014 passed by CPIO denying the information, which was earlier directed to be supplied to the petitioner and further contended that the orders passed by the CPIO (i.e. respondent No. 2) and the FAA (i.e. respondent No. 4) could not be denied or declared as void by an administrative order. The respondents submitted that the Chairman, Income Tax Settlement Commission, being the overall administrative Head of the Department, would have the inherent power to pass an administrative order in respect of any order passed by the other subordinate officers. He further contended that respondent Nos. 2 and 4 were not the designated authorities under the RTI Act with respect to the information sought by the petitioner since the information pertained to another wing of the department.
The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi held that it is not disputed that the orders dated 26.09.2013 and 21.10.2013 were orders passed under the RTI Act and in that sense were in exercise of statutory powers. Such orders passed in exercise of statutory powers could not be declared as a nullity or void by an administrative order without recourse to the hierarchy of authorities as specified in the RTI Act. In the event, the respondent No. 1 was of the view that the orders passed by respondent Nos. 2 & 4 were without authority of law, the proper and the only course would be to file an appeal before the CIC or any other competent judicial forum.
|9||W.P. (C) 6634/2011 & CM No. 13398/2011||04 Dec, 2014||THE REGISTRAR, SUPREME COURT OF INDIA Vs COMMODORE LOKESH K.BATRA AND ORS
In the petition, the question was whether the CIC can issue a direction for disclosure of information in a form not maintained by a public authority. And, whether the CIC could give a direction for compiling of such information and its disclosure in future.
The Court held that there is no infirmity in the order of CIC in so far as it directs that the records may be maintained in a manner so that the information regarding the period for which the judgments are pending after being reserved, is available with the petitioner in future.
|10||C.W.P No. 26862 of 2013||28 Jan, 2014||Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development vs Central Information Commission and Ors.
Section (19) Appeal to Central Information Commission. The respondent No.1 (CIC) issued a notice to respondents No.3 and 4 with a direction to appear on 28.10.2013. In another case also, same date i.e. 28.10.2013 was given for hearing where appearance of respondents No.3 and 4 was required. The hearing in one case was at New Delhi and in another case it was at Chandigarh. A request was made by the petitioner either to change the venue or to hear both the cases at one place. A fax message was also sent by respondents No. 4 and 5 but an ex-parte order was passed without affording any opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.
The Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court held that undisputedly, the impugned order has been passed at the back of the petitioner without considering its request, which is violative of principles of natural justice. The petition is allowed, the impugned order is set aside and respondent No.1 is directed to pass a fresh order after giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.
|11||Writ Petition No. 715 of 2013||19 Dec, 2013||Shahada Taluka Co-operative Education Society V.S. Kalyan Sajan Patil & Anr.
Second Appeal to the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission – Whether the State Information Commission a multi member body and the Commission must consist of State Information Commissioner and at least one more State Information Commissioner? - In second appeal, the State Information Commission, Bench at Nashik passed the impugned order which consists of only one member
The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay held that the State Information Commissioner and at least one more State Information Commissioner, and therefore, any appeal or application is required to be considered by the multi member body. The impugned order passed by the State Information Commissioner, Bench at Nashik deserves to be quashed the State Information Commissioner, Bench at Nashik, The State Information Commission, Bench at Nashik to hear the said appeal, after consulting the Bench in the light of the judgement of the Division Bench in Goa Cricket Association and decided the same as expeditiously as possible.
|12||W.P.(C) No. 3660/2012 & CM 7664/2012(stay)||13 Sep, 2013||Union of India V.S. Vishwas Bhumburkar
Section 19(8)(a) Powers of the commission to make an inquiry or to take any such step necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act- the respondent filed an application with the PIO, Ministry of Tourism, PSW Division seeking an authenticated photocopy along with the file notings of the Project Report for Development of Ayurveda Health Resort and Herbal Garden at Vagamon. Which was submitted by the Department if Tourism, Government of Kerala in December, 2005- the PIO before the Central Information Commission stated that the said project report had not been received in the Ministry of Tourism- during the course of hearing before the Commission, the appellant produced a photocopy of a report purporting to be signed by Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala in December, 2005- the PIO confirmed the signatures of the then Joint Secretary, however, stated that there was no trace of the said Report in the Ministry nor any other relevant papers were available to indicate the presence of such a report- the and send his report to the appellant and the Commission – the petitioner assailed the order of the Commission primarily on the ground that the RTI Act does not authorize the Commission to direct an inquiry of this nature by the department concern. Though the Commission itself can make such an inquiry as it deems appropriate –
the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi held that the Commission would also have the jurisdiction to direct an inquiry into the matter wherever it is claimed by the PIO/CPIO that the information sought by the applicant is not traceable/ readily traceable/ currently traceable. Even in a case where the PIO/CPIO takes a plea that the information sought by the applicant was never available with the Government but, the Commission on the basis of the material available to it forms a prima facie opinion that the said information was in fact available with the Government, it would be justified in directing an inquiry by responsible officer of the department /office concerned. Whether in a particular case, an inquiry ought to be made by the Commission or by the officer of the department / officer concerned is a matter to be decided by the Commission in the fact and circumstances of each such case. It is, therefore, directed that a through and meaningful inquiry in terms of the provisions of the directions of the Commission be carried out by an officer not below the rank of a Joint Secretary it the Government within eight weeks from today and a copy each of the said report shall be provided to the Commission as well as to the respondent.
|13||W.P. (C) 3500/2013||05 Jul, 2013||Shail Sahni Vs. Valsa Sara Mathew & Ors.
Article 226 – Writ Petition- Section 19(1) – the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi held that unless the petitioner avails the statutory remedy of appeal provided under section 19 of the Act, it would be difficult to entertain a writ petition, bypassing the statutory mechanism provided under the Act. Since, the petitioner has alternative remedy of appeal under section 19(10 of the Act available to him, and the said remedy cannot be said to be less efficacious than the remedy by way of a writ petition, it would not be appropriate to invoke extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, in this matter.
|14||C.W.P. No. 4787 of 2011||02 Nov, 2012||Fruit & Merchant Union vs Chief Information Commissioner and others
The manner in which the case was dealt with by the first appellate authority as well as the Commission shows as if game of 'hide and seek' was being played. At the first instance before the first appellate authority, in the appeal filed by the petitioner, apparently the complainant was not impleaded as party. When the matter was taken up before the Commission by the complainant, he did not think it appropriate to implead the petitioner who was objecting to the information being granted as third party. Further the Commission also did not consider it relevant to issue notice to the petitioner despite the fact that the first appellate authority had passed an order in his favour, which had been produced before the Commission. Such a procedure adopted is unknown in judicial process and even against the provision of Section 19(4) of the Act, which provides that in case a third party information is sought, he shall be granted opportunity of hearing. Grant of opportunity of hearing to a party, who may be affected by an order, is sine qua non. It has been consistently held so by the courts.