WHAT AFTER DECISION BY CENTRAL/STATE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
There are large number of instances, where the State Information Commissioners are passing orders contrary to the spirit and object of RTI Act and contradicting the laid down procedures. Another issue is the Public Authorities did not comply the decisions of CIC/SIC and the Information Commissions are not strict about enforcing penal provisions under section-20. The Information Seekers feel they were pushed to dead end. There is a common feeling that no appeal lies against decision of State Information Commissioner. Let us examine it.
There is also a general notion that Courts have no jurisdiction to entertain challenges arising out of RTI Act. This is not correct. The bar provided under Sec.23 of the Act is specific to entertaining suit, application or other proceedings by lower courts. There is no bar in approaching Supreme Court under Article-32 and High Courts under Article-226 of the Constitution of India.
Another aspect is the jurisdiction of individual Information Commissioners to pass binding orders. Sec-19(7) of the Act states that decision of Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall be binding. This does not mean that decision is not appelable. The wording of Sec-19(7) denote the decision of the Commission and not the Commissioner. The Commission consists of the Chief Information Commissioner and Central Information Commissioners or State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners. The decision of the Central Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner, as the case may be, cannot be said to be the decision of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission. The constitution of the Central Information Commission and State Information Commission are defined u/s 12(2) and 15(2) respectively.
Section-19(9) provides that Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall give notice of its decision, including any right of appeal, to the complainant and public authority. Thus, the legislative intent is amply clear that a right to appeal accrue in favour of Applicant and Public Authority against the decision of Central Information Commissioner / State Information Commissioner. It is pertinent to note that under section-15(4), the general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the SIC shall vest in the State Chief Information Commissioner.....etc.
In this view this, if the order of the Central Information Commissioner / State Information Commissioner is patently illegal and not in conformity with the provisions of the Act, an appeal can be filed before the Central Information Commissioner / State Chief Information Commissioner for consideration and adjudication by the Central Information Commission / State Information Commission.
Section-19(8)(b) provides that the CIC or SIC has powers to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered. Consumer courts can also be moved to seek compensation.
In addition, the Appellant can also file Complaint under Section-18 before the Commission with specific prayers. Delhi High Court vide decision dt: 28/10/13, distinguished Sec-18 and 19(3) and held that - it is expected that the Commission (CIC) henceforth will decide the complaints on merits instead of directing the CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought (see copy of judgment attached below)
After disposal of Appeal u/s 19(3) and/or Complaint under sec-18(1) of the Act, the applicant can challenge the orders of the Information Commission by filing writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
Also read: Appeal -vs- Complaint