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Sajib Nandi

The Supreme Court of India on Section 20(2) of the RTI Act, 2005

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Sajib Nandi



Civil Appeal No. 9095 of 2012 (Arising out of SLP© No. 7529 of 2009), D/13.12.2013.

Manohar s/o Manikrao Anchule


State of Maharashtra & Anr




(i) Natural justice- Hearing the parties, application of mind and recording of reasoned decision are the basic elements of natural justice. (Para 17)


(ii) Natural justice- Right of hearing- Even if not provided under a specific statute, the principles of natural justice shall so demand, unless by specific law, it is excluded- It is more so when exercise of authority is likely to vest the person with consequences of civil nature. (Para 23)


(iii) Directing disciplinary action is an order in the form of recommendation which has far reaching civil consequences- Compliance with principles of natural justice is a condition precedent for passing of a recommendation u/s 20(2) of the Act. (Paras 21 and 22)


(iv) Grounds stated in the provision of S.20(2) of the Act are exhaustive and it is not for the Commission to add other grounds which are not specifically stated in the language of S.20(2) of the Act- Provision of S. 20(2) of the Act has to be construed and applied strictly- Its ambit cannot be permitted to be enlarged at the whims of the Commission. (Para 26)


(v) ‘Negligence’ per se is not a ground on which proceedings u/s 20(2) of the Act can be invoked- The Commission must return a finding that such negligence, delay or default is persistent and without reasonable cause. (Para 28)


(vi) Besides finding that any of the stated defaults have been committed by such officer, the Commission has to further record its opinion that such default in relation to receiving of an application or not furnishing the information within the specified time was committed persistently and without a reasonable cause. (Para 30)


(vii) State Information Commissions exercise very wide and certainly quasi-judicial powers-In fact their functioning is akin to the judicial system rather than the executive decision making process. (Para 14)


(viii) State Information Commissions- Principles of natural justice is mandatory for such Tribunal or bodies discharging such functions. (Para 15)

Supreme Court of India on Section 20(2).pdf

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THE CIC/SIC should record reason, there are many instances that pio do not furnish information deliberately. But commissioners do not record the same in their orders. Thus PIOs have their days and continue to delay information. So SIC/CIC need to follow the law laid down by the Apex court.


thanks sajid for the posting

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I do not think ICs have inclination or time or energy to go through mandated elaborated application of mind and procedure to penalise any PIO. It is then better not to penalize PIO.

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1. This order of the Apex Court can also be used for securing "hearing" from the FAA also.


2. Some points of this judgment are contrary to the principles laid down in the Namit Sharma review petition...where the same court held that CIC/SIC are not judicial or quasi judicial bodies but only perform administrative functions.


3. This observation of the Apex Court (on page 26 of the judgment):


The purpose of the legislation in

requiring both these proceedings to be taken together is obvious

not only from the language of the section but even by applying

the mischief rule wherein the provision is examined from the very

purpose for which the provision has been enacted. While deciding

the complaint or the appeal, if the Commission finds that the

appeal is without merit or the complaint is without substance, the

information need not be furnished for reasons to be recorded.


is also important because in some SICs (and a few ICs in the CIC also) pass separate orders regarding Penalty / Disciplinary action - separate from the main order. If both proceedings are taken together (as the apex court states in the above para), then even judgments of two HCs that applicant/appellant/complainant need not be heard or present before deciding on Sec 20(1) and 20(2), also become null and void.


In the last para also, the apex court has stated:


It will also be open to the Commission to

hear the appellant and pass any orders as contemplated under

Section 20(2), in furtherance to the notice issued to the appellant.




Please see HC decisions here:



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