State Information Commission can impose penalty or order compensation only when applicant suffers loss or detriment

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Devan Ramchandran, J. dealt with a writ petition filed by the State Public Information Officer challenging the order of the State Information Commission whereby, the petitioner had been directed to pay a compensation of Rs. 25,000 to the respondent on the ground that the petitioner had withheld some information from the respondent, who was an RTI applicant.

The facts of the case are that the respondent was seeking some information regarding his service in the General Education Department. However, he was shown only one file which had eight relevant pages missing from it. Therefore, the respondent moved the Commission against the petitioners. The petitioners contend that there is no evidence to prove that those eight pages had been deliberately withheld from the respondent and that the Commission’s order of compensation is illegal and unlawful because they refused to consider that the documents were really missing.

Relying on the arguments of the petitioners, the Court considered the relevant provision of the Right to Information Act, 2005, that is, Section 19, which states that, an imposition of penalty or an order of compensation in favor of the applicant can be made by the Commission “only if loss or detriment has been suffered by the applicant”. In the present case, “the Commission granted an amount of Rs. 25,000 without any adjudication as to the actual loss suffered by him and also without assessing whether the information said to be not given to him was deliberately withheld by the authorities.” Therefore, the order did not hold any legal sustenance and was set aside. [State Public Information Officer v. Rajendran Pillai,  2017 SCC OnLine Ker 15958, order dated 4.08. 2017]

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 + 17 =