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TN: Denial of RTI info amounts to deficiency in service: Forum

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As reported by Jeeva in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 18 February 2011:

Denial of RTI info amounts to deficiency in service: Forum - The Times of India


Denial of RTI info amounts to deficiency in service: Forum


CHENNAI: Applicants can now approach consumer courts (apart from the state or central information commission) for compensation in case they are denied information by a public authority to applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.


Delivering a landmark order to this effect recently on a complaint filed by R Rajakumar of Pudukottai, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Thoothukudi asked a constituent college of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University to pay Rs 20,000 compensation to the complainant for failing to reply to his RTI application.


In October 2009, Rajakumar filed a petition with the university under the RTI Act seeking information pertaining to the copy of applications of women BSc computer science students received by St Mary's College, a constitutent of the university, in 2006-07. He affixed a court fee stamp of Rs 10 towards the application fee but didn't get a reply within the stipulated 30 days.


He then moved the district consumer forum saying he had paid the prescribed fee and hence he should be treated as a consumer. And the failure to reply to his queries would amount to deficiency in service, he argued and prayed for compensation under the Consumer Protection Act.


The university said the complainant could not be considered a consumer as the fee paid by him was fixed by the government for information under the RTI Act. The consumer forum did not have the jurisdiction to hear the complaint, it said adding that the complainant could only prefer an appeal with the appellate authority under the RTI Act.


The university also said it had forwarded Rajakumar's RTI application to St Mary's college but that the college said the information had already been furnished to the complainant in May 2009 and hence it wasn't necessary to give it again.'


Forum president M Ramachandran and members GP Bhadra Thulasi and S Leonard Vasanth said they had the jurisdiction to hear the complaint since it was a case of deficiency in service.


The National Consumer Disputes Redessal Commission had already made a ruling to this effect in SP Thirumala Rao Vs Municipal Commissioner, Mysore City Municipal Corporation case, they added.


Holding the college liable for deficiency in service, the forum said it had to provide the information even if the same had already been provided as the complainant had filed a fresh RTI application with the prescribed fee.

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Guest pcbali

Please post link to download order of Consumer Forum

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