The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in RP No 1975/2005 Dr. S. P.Thirumala Rao vs. Municipal Commissioner, Mysore City Municipal Corporation, Mysore held that failure to supply information on an application under RTI amounts to deficiency of service. However, the National commission recently(on 09.10.2013) in RP No. 3396 OF 2013 betweenShri Kali Ram Vs. State Public Information Officer-Cum- Deputy Excise & Taxation, Gurgaon (East), Haryana held that RTI applicant does not fall under the definition to consumer so as to raise a consumer dispute.The National Commission held as follows:
“4. We do not locate substance in the arguments advanced by the petitioner. First of all, Sections 22 & 23 of the RTI Act, 2005 are crystal clear, and the same are hereby reproduced:-
“22. Act to have overriding effect:- The provision of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. From this, it is beyond doubt that this Act, however, has on overriding effect in that the authorities under this Act may make independent decisions about the question whether such disclosure or non-disclosure has any overriding public interest. Therefore, it may become necessary for the authorities to independently decide whether disclosure of information which itself being an act done in public interest, overweighs the public interest sought to be protected under those enactments.
23. Bar of Jurisdiction of Courts:- No court shall entertain any suit, application or other proceeding in respect of any order made this Act, and no such order shall be called in question otherwise than by way of an appeal under this Act”.
Again, Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005, provides procedure for appeal.
5. This view stands emboldened by a recent judgment by a Bench consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Justice J. M. Malik and Hon’ble Dr. B. C. Gupta in the case of Smt. Tasleem Bint Hussain vs. The State Public Information Officer, revision petition No. 737 of 2013 decided on 1st March, 2013 and the judgment rendered by a Bench headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ashok Bhan, President in the case ofT.Pundalika Vs. Revenue Department (Service Division) Government of Karnataka, RP No. 4061 of 2010, decided on 31.03.2011. In this case it was held:-
“Respondent, being aggrieved, filed an appeal before the State Commission, which has been allowed by observing thus:-
“At the outset, it is not in dispute that complainant had filed an application u/s 6 & 7 of the Right to Information Act to the OP No.4. But complainant cannot be considered as a ‘consumer’ as defined under the C.P.Act since there is a remedy available for the complainant to approach the appellate authority u/s 19 of the RTI Act, 2005”.
“We agree with the view taken by the fora below. Petitioner cannot be claimed to be a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act. There is a remedy available for him to approach the Appellate Authority under Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005. Dismissed.”
6. Again, this Commission also took the same view in RP 3276/2012, Pothireddipalli Sugunavati Vs. Territory Manager, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., decided on 14.01.2013.