Department not Officer should pay compensation to affected citizen – rules High Court

vicarious_liablity_rtiIn a significant decision of Dr. Nazrul Islam vs State Of West Bengal & Ors on 31 August, 2016, Calcutta high court has ruled that “It is the Department who has to compensate a citizen for any loss, detriment or harassment suffered by him by reason of failure of its officers to perform their duty.”. The Department cannot claim that “responsibility and liability should be fixed only on its officers”.

The court further added that “In fact, the Department should recover from its concerned officers the compensation that the Department has to pay to the affected citizen.”

Department not Officer should pay compensation to affected citizen

The Department has appointed SPIO and a first Appellate Authority who are officers of the Department. If such Officers did not discharge their duties, the department must own up responsibility for the same. The Department must accept the liability for any negligent act of commission or omission on the part of its officers in the course of their employment or discharge of their duty.

This is akin to vicarious liability, a well- recognized tortious principle of law. It is the Department who has to compensate a citizen for any loss, detriment or harassment suffered by him by reason of failure of its officers to perform their duty. It makes little difference whether such duty is statutory or non-statutory. It does not lie in the mouth of the Department to say that it is an inanimate or impersonal entity and responsibility and liability should be fixed only on its officers.

The Department must make good the loss suffered by a citizen by non-discharging of their duties by the Department’s recalcitrant and indolent officers and, thereafter the Department is at liberty to take appropriate steps against its erring officers and bring them to books. In fact, the Department should recover from its concerned officers the compensation that the Department has to pay to the affected citizen.

The High court further added that “in contrast to Sec. 20 of the RTI Act, Sec. 19 does not require that a Public Authority against whom the Commission awards compensation, must be given a prior hearing.”

The decision of the High Court can be downloaded from here!

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2 comments on “Department not Officer should pay compensation to affected citizen – rules High Court
  1. suresh pataskar says:

    Go for Second Appeal with the State Information Commissioner. Residential Colleges are certainly coming under the ambit of the RTI Act.

  2. Upendra Prasad Rath says:

    Recently, reply from a PIO of Odisha Education Department received that Residential College not coming under RTI Act, so details asked for can not be supplied. Now I sent an appeal to FAA. What further action to be taken. Pl guide.

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