Saturday, July 17, 2010

Powers of Information Commission to change its penalty

As we all know, Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act says that the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, shall for different reasons assigned in the section, impose a penalty of Rs. 250 per day (with a limit of Rs. 25,000).

There is the condition of CIC/SIC giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him. 

Similarly in section 20(2), there is also the provision of recommending for disciplinary action against the PIO under the service rules applicable to him.

In this regards, I would request you to kindly let me know if the CIC/SIC also have a right to reconsider their decision to impose the penalty in section 20(1) or to waive off the recommendation of DE in section 20(2) once it has formally ordered the imposition of the penalty?

From the reading of the RTI Act, I could gather that the CIC/SIC does not seem to have such a power and a penalty once so imposed is a final order which can be challenged by the aggrieved person only possible through Writ or other powers in the High Court. 

But I am not 100% sure of this fact and would like to get your expert opinion on this please. Would also request you to tell what are the legal recourse available to the original complainant if the CIC/SIC has actually changed its order despite there being no such provisions in law (in case it is the legal position).
Column by:
Amitabh Thakur,

National RTI Forum

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