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Apex court clarification on Section 18 & Section 19 of the RTI Act.


Dr V S Prasanna Rajan

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  • karira

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This is a very strange interpretation of the Honble Apex Court.

 

The whole purpose of the RTI Act is to "disseminate" information. What is the big point in filing a Complaint under Sec 18 of the RTI Act if the Commission cannot order disclosure of information ?

 

So what happens if the appellant files a "Complaint against Non Compliance of CIC/SIC order" ?

Is it that the SIC/CIC cannot order disclosure of information ?

 

I am very confused.

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dr.s.malhotra

It brings to my mind the Order of Hon'ble PSIC in CC 461/2010 in matter of Kehar Singh VS High Court . I can appreciate that is in line with this Judgment of Hon'ble SC .

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This judgment puts the curtain down on the confusion regarding the scope and effect of Sec.18 and Sec.19 of the Act. There was genuine confusion. Different High Courts had different views. Our forum also discussed this on several occasions. Two such links are as follows:

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/7344-allahabad-high-court-order-clarifying-sec-18-a.html

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/73843-rti-help-clarification-section-18-1-section-19-1-rti-act.html.

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nk agarwal

Now I have two queries,

(1)what happens to a complaint filed by an Appellant on non-compliance of a Hon'ble CIC decision ?

(2) What options are availble to an Appellant on non-compliance by the CPIO of Hon'ble CIC decision ?

thnks.

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(1). S. 18 and 19 are distinct and have a separate duty of obligation on SIC/CIC.

 

(2). The CIC/SIC acting in accordance with S. 18 would create awareness and sense of duty on all PIO's under the act . Thus the information would be provided by them within time.

 

(3). The applicant can follow now to file appeal in time u/s 19 and thereafter a complaint u/s 18 (1) be filed fori imposition of penalties as there is no time limit u/s 18(1).

 

 

(4). The s. 18 and 19 was discussion on this forum . The hon'ble supreme court has laid the law and the matter has become very clear now.

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All of ypu are missing the main point - that the SIC/CIC cannot direct disclosure of information while hearing a Complaint under Sec 18. It can only decide on Penalty under Sec 20.

 

As nk agarwal has asked, what does a appellant do if the PA does not comply with a CIC/SIC order after second appeal ?

What does a citizen do if the PA does not make any suo-motu disclosure under Sec 4(1)(b) ?

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It is advisable now to file second appeal-cum-complaint or both simultaneously. It will increase workload of SIC/CIC, but appellant will get information and penalty for PIO.

 

As for non-compliance of IC orders obtained by filing second appeal, naturally now complaint should be preferred. In this complaint, complainant is not asking for information which has already been ordered by IC, but is complaining non-compliance of IC orders. Here IC has to order penalty and also compliance of its orders.

 

As for section 4.1.b, complaint should be filed u/s 18, since there is non-compliance of provisions of RTI ACT 2005.

 

To my mind, for all problems other than supply of proper information, complaint should be filed u/s 18 requesting for enquiry and penalty etc.

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skmishra1970

Hon'ble Supreme Court of India is on the way on which the Power and Value and the Purpose of RTI Act will be defeated. It is clear that u/s 18 no meaning of enquiry if guilty officer can not ask to disclose information and No penalty on them for harming provision of RTI Act.

 

Similerly the word provided in Section 20 (See below), is become meaningless by the judgement of SC.

 

Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal................it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees:

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Procedure u/s 19 is time bound whereas it is not so under s.18 , para 42 [ Does it mean 30 - 45 days limit applies to Second Appeal ? Yes it implies the same . The time frame as prescribed u/s 19(6) has to be applicable to second appeals too ] vide infra .

 

How can this ruling be used to compel CIC/SIC's to decide 2nd appeals earlier?

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There are only two ways to approach a CIC/SIC:

 

- By way of second appeal under Sec 19(3)

- By way of a complaint under Sec 18

 

There is no such thing as a "continuation" of second appeal or "miscellaneous" application. Please give the reference of the section under which such approaches to the Commission are possible ?

 

This judgment is bad in law and virtually sounds the death of Sec 18. Who will Complain to the SIC/CIC just to impose penalty - and not to get information ? The whole purpose of the RTI process is to get information. As it is we all know what is the reluctance of SIC/CIC in imposing penalties. The Justices have gone too legalistic in their interpretation of the statutes and have killed parts of the Act without without even a second thought.

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A. Information supplied after 80-100 days of lodging RTI Application without any penal action or compensation . Applicant is on clear disadvantage .

 

B. Once Information has been supplied , Second Appeal u/s 19(3) becomes unavailable / meaningless

 

C. or the Applicant has to first get Information either in FA or SA , and then go for an additional petition of Complaint for getting s.19(8) and s.20 invoked . This is multiplicity of litigation , clearly frowned upon by the judiciary and does not make sense either .

 

 

1. Compensation can be awarded only in appeal u/ s. 19(8)(b) if appeal filed u/s 19(3).

 

2. A complaint u/s 18(1) attracts penalties as per s. 20(1) and 20(2). There is no provision for compensation as per S> 19(8)(b) on the SC decision. in my opinion

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Dr V S Prasanna Rajan

@ karira

The procedure under Section 19, involves both penalty as well as the direction by the information commission to provide the information. Hence, the supreme court has interpreted that section 19 is more beneficial than section 18. Hence an appellant under section 19 has the option for both emphasizing for imposition of penalty as well as the direction for providing the information by the commission.

vsprajan

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Dr V S Prasanna Rajan

The apex court at para 46.has held that- " The appeals which the respondents have been given liberty to file, if filed within the time specified, will be decided in accordance with Section 19 of the Act and as early as possible, preferably within three months of their filing.". This is probably the limit set by the apex court for disposing of the second appeals by the commission.

vsprajan.

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The apex court at para 46.has held that- " The appeals which the respondents have been given liberty to file, if filed within the time specified, will be decided in accordance with Section 19 of the Act and as early as possible, preferably within three months of their filing.". This is probably the limit set by the apex court for disposing of the second appeals by the commission.

vsprajan.

 

That is only for this specific case....remember the case was pending since 2007.

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@ karira

The procedure under Section 19, involves both penalty as well as the direction by the information commission to provide the information. Hence, the supreme court has interpreted that section 19 is more beneficial than section 18. Hence an appellant under section 19 has the option for both emphasizing for imposition of penalty as well as the direction for providing the information by the commission.

vsprajan

 

Thta is what I am saying ..... this is death of sec 18.

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Dr V S Prasanna Rajan

@karira

Taking the view of the apex court that any section in any statute serves specific purposes, and section 18 though cannot be used for ordering the disclosure of information, it still serves certain purposes:

 

1. IF THE APPLICANT GETS THE INFORMATION REQUESTED RTI APPLICATION BY ANY OTHER VALID PROCEDURE OTHER THAN THE RTI ACT,THEN, IN ORDER TO HOLD THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY / PIO ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE UNWARRANTED INFRACTION OF THE RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 19(1) A, AND IF THE COMPLAINT IS LODGED FOR THE SAME, AND IF THE COMMISSION HAS FOUND REASONABLE FACTS ON RECORD THAT THE PIO HAS NOT SUPPLIED THE INFORMATION,WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPLIED UNDER THE RTI ACT, THEN THE PIO IS PENALIZED UNDER THE SECTION 18 BY THE COMMISSION.

 

2. The penalty and / or enquiry by the commission based on the complaint lodged on factors which also squarely comes under the purview of Section 18(1)(f) of the RTI Act, 2005.

 

vsprajan.

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Complaint can ONLY be lodged if any of the conditions under Sec 18(1)(a) to (f) are satisfied.

 

What do you want when you file a RTI application ?

Do you want "information" or do you want to get the PIO penalised ?

Make up your mind.

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dr.s.malhotra
Thta is what I am saying ..... this is death of sec 18.

 

You may include s.7(1) , s.19(8) too .... Act is now in reverse gear .

 

On Miscellaneous Appl and Continuity of s.19(3)

I would add that an Application is the right of the party in any matter , even during every judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings . Give it any name Miscell or Criminal Miscell or Civil Miscell depending upon circumstances . An addendum too is an Application , A request for condonation of delay too is an Application . I have been doing it regularly in my Appeals and complaints . Application is to bring to notice of the IC something . There is no need for specific express provision for it under RTI Act .

 

Regarding other point : A complaint arising out of SA is certainly a continuation of SA . It merely stresses to implement what was stated in SA . This Complaint is simply an application for getting the Order of IC executed . It is not to be confused with Direct Complaint u/s 18 .

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skmishra1970

Kindly refer full bench judgement of Punjab State Commission dated 9-8-2011 in CC No. 461 of 2010.

"if the grievance still persists, he would be free to approach the Commission either by way of Complaint under Section 18 or by way of Second Appeal under Section 19 (3)".

It means even after getting information at first appeal, we may approach Commission by way of complaint u/s 18 for delayed information from PIO and aurge for penalty u/s 20 ?

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