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Hemant Agarwal (ha21@rediffmail.com Mumbai : 9820174108)     14 December 2009

RTI Fees Paid - THEN YOU BECOME A CONSUMER

Dear All,
 


The following appeared in    "Times of India, dated 14-12-2009, page no. 02,  Mumbai Edition."

 

The TrendSetting Land Judgement by the   "National Commission"   changes the face of RTI rights   Here are the  TWO MOST IMPORTANT extract of the same :

 

(NOTE : Since the Judgement is passed by the  "National Commision",  all the District Consumer Forums, has to compulsory'ly  follow the same and  an appeal against it could lie  " ONLY " in the HC.)

 

1.  "An applicant under the RTI Act   HAS TO PAY FEES  for getting the information, and hence he acquires the status of a consumer".

 

2.   "The forum observed that the RTI Act bars the jurisdiction of courts, but not the consumer fora as the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is meant to be an additional remedy."

 

WITH THE ABOVE judgement,  the RTI automatically applicant gains the Status of a "Consumer"  and the  P.I.O.  is automatically deemed to be an   "SERVICE PROVIDER". 

 

Normally the  RTI Appellate Authority does not punish the P.I.O. (wherein he can impose upto 25,000/- as fine) and also can direct administrative action u/s 20(2) of the RTI Act,     "BUT"   now here the P.I.O.  can be directed to pay compensation under CPA,  thereby automatically making him liable under the Administrative Rules for  Public Servants.


Keep Smiling .... Hemant Agarwal


 

IF RTI Fees Paid - THEN YOU BECOME A  CONSUMER

 


Unhappy with RTI answer? Move the consumer forum
"Times of India, dated 14-12-2009, page no. 02,  Mumbai Edition."

 

   It is common knowledge that public information officers often do not furnish the information sought by the applicant under Right To Information Act (RTI). Is an appeal to the appellate authority of the Information Commission the only remedy?

 

Or would failure to furnish information without valid reason constitute a deficiency in service for which compensation can be sought by filing a consumer complaint?    This issue has been decided by the National Commission in a trendsetting judgment.

 

Case Study:

Dr S P Thirumala Rao,    a consulting physician in Mysore, was upset that some agency had dug up the footpath in front of his clinic for laying telephone cables through PVC pipes but had failed to restore it after completion of the work. The damaged footpath and the projecting pipe was causing obstruction to his patients as well as to pedestrians. He submitted two RTI applications to the Mysore City Municipal Corporation seeking information about the telephone service provider who was responsible for this. 


   As the information was not furnished within the prescribed period, he filed a consumer complaint before the District Consumer Forum claiming compensation and costs from the municipal corporation. In its defence, the corporation claimed that the information could not be furnished within the prescribed period due to heavy workload. It also claimed that the work was carried out by Reliance and the Government of India through the Department of Telecommunications, and hence the corporation could not be held responsible for the same. The jurisdiction of the consumer forum was also challenged. 
 

   The forum observed that the RTI Act bars the jurisdiction of courts, but not the consumer fora as the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is meant to be an additional remedy. Further, the RTI Act does not deal with compensation for deficiency in service. Hence, a complaint filed to claim compensation for deficiency in service for failure to furnish the information would be maintainable under the CPA. Since delay was admitted, the forum awarded token damages of Rs 500 and costs of Rs 100. 


   The corporation challenged this order before the Karnatake State Commission. It argued that since the RTI provided for an appeal against failure to furnish the information sought, the proper remedy would have been to approach the appellate authority, and not the consumer forum. Hence, the complaint ought to be dismissed. The State Commission upheld this contention, allowed the appeal and dismissed the complaint. 
 

   Dr Rao then approached the National Commission by filing a Revision Petition. Being a matter of public importance, the commission appointed advocates Aditya Narain and Astha Tyagi as amicus curaie. In its judgment delivered by Justice R K Batta, presiding member, on behalf of the Bench comprising himself and S K Naik, the commission observed that the settled law was that even if a particular law barred the jurisdiction of courts, a complaint could still be filed under the provisions of the CPA as it provided an additional remedy. The RTI Act did not bar the jurisdiction of the consumer fora. Also, the provision for appeal under the RTI Act was restricted to the failure to furnish the information sought, but there was no    provision to claim compensation for deficiency in service. An applicant under the RTI Act has to pay fees for getting the information, and hence he acquires the status of a consumer. If there is any deficiency in service in respect of providing such information, a complaint could be filed under the CPA for claiming compensation. 


   With this reasoning, the National Commission set aside the order of the State Commission and restored that of the District Forum.

[Judgment dated 28.05.2009 in the case of Dr S P Thirumala Rao v/s Municipal Commissioner, Mysore City Municipal Corporation.
 



 49 Replies

Rathnakar P V (civil engineer)     14 December 2009

Dear Hemant Agarwal ,

     This is a great INFORMATION. I  Personally thank you for sharing this infrmation, and request the Members of the forum to spread this nwes to ALL( PUBLIC) .

amitra sudan chakrabortty (Assistant Professor of Law)     14 December 2009

Its a Land mark judgment.

Thanks for enlighting us.

 


(Guest)

Hemanth Agrawal ji,

Thank you very much for providing valuable information.

Dr.S.M.Kantikar (Pathologist & Medical Law Consultant)     14 December 2009

Dear Hemanth Aggrawal,

Congratulations and very happy to learn this. RTI & COnsumer Fora are the best wepons, easy and cheapest way to reach the justice. Most of corrupts and inefficeints nedd to be punished. Many guilty are afriad of RTI.

Can you please clarify, Whether the Govt Servant seek information under RTI? and is there any permission from higher authority is needed? I had very worst experience which I will share with you all consumer activist after receipt of this reply.

With all best wishes,

Yours,

Dr.S.M.Kantikar,Pathologist & Medical Law Consultatnt, Shimoga,Karnataka

DR.SANAT KUMAR DASH (Eye Specialist)     14 December 2009

 IT  IS  A   VERY  GOOD   AND   VALUE ABLE   INFORMATION. FOR  ALL. HEARTIEST  CONGRATULATION  AND  MANY  MANY  THANKS.............

ashish (manager )     16 December 2009

Dear Mr. Agarwal

Thanks a lot ....for most valuable information .

Ashish Maheshwari

 

 

Rama mohan Acharya (Manager HR(Legal))     18 December 2009

Dear Mr. Hemmant

This is the way this forum is getting benefits from one to other.Thanks a lot

Oibato Hage (Junior Engineer (Civil) Hydro Power.)     20 December 2009

D/Hemmant,

Thnks 4 d information. Let's hpe there shall b no ammendment in this respect.

Mr. oibato

Hemant Agarwal (ha21@rediffmail.com Mumbai : 9820174108)     20 December 2009

Dear Dr.S.M.Kantikar  (Pathologist & Medical Law Consultant)

 

The RTI Act does not bar or restrict any citizen of India to seek information,  which includes any Govt. servant or say Public servant.  It is open to all govt.servants to ask for any  "public document" (i.e. information) that exists in possession of the Govt. bodies  and there is no need to ask for  "permission" from any higher authorities.

 

The "permission from higher authorities"  is applicable when a govt. agency (body)  wants to prosecute any "public servant"  for any violation of law.

 

In the same context of above I would suggest you to read the following link :
https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/forum/message_display.asp?group_id=12143



Meanwhile download the attached presentation, for lighter moments, double click on file to run.

 

Keep Smiling .... Hemant Agarwal
 


Attached File : 38 38 happy feet.pps downloaded: 123 times

S.MANIMARAN (Advocate)     23 January 2010

sir,  very informative article   first i thank you your work, and the second thing when i searched the judgment copy in the national commissin web site i did not get the copy form there if  any holding the copy please post the same  in the web or give the information from wre i can get it.

thanking you

 

 


(Guest)

Already consumer courts are not delivering justice in time due to heavy backlog. This will add burden to them. Government will finally be the winner of time and finally the judgment itself. Viewing from any angle, this judgment by our experience in Indian judicial history, is not welcoming one. By the time the case comes to the Consumer court for final hearing (after several years), a lot of changes in the seats of officers will take place and the then officer will blame the previous officer and will go scot-free. The appellate stages provided in the RTI Act is only the very best! After Consumer Courts judgment, filing of E.P., Appeal before State Commission, Appeal before National Commission, Appeal before the Supreme Court......... By the time it reaches Supreme Court, the RTI Applicant will lose all his thirst for the required information.

Hemant Agarwal (ha21@rediffmail.com Mumbai : 9820174108)     23 January 2010

1.  The right to file an appeal with the RTI appellate authority remains intact,  even if the RTI applicant files a suit under the CPAct, against the concerned PIO.
In other words, the RTI applicant can file an RTI appeal and as well  "simultaneously"  file a suit under the CPAct against the RTI PIO.


2.  The remedy to file an suit under the CPAct stems from the fact that CPAct provides for an   "ADDITIONAL REMEDY"  to the consumers,  "IRRESPECTIVE" of all other available remedies.
In other words, the  "RTI applicant cum Consumer"  can "NOW"  file an CPAct suit and as well  "simultaneously"  file a RTI Appeal under the RTI Act,  against the RTI PIO.
BOTH  "LAWS"  ARE NOT BARRED BY EACH OTHER.


3.  Going by the above logic in Point no. 01 & 02,  the RTI applicant can file :
a)   an appeal with the RTI appellate authority,    AND
b)   ALSO file an suit under the CPAct, against the PIO
c)   AND claim, damages and compensation, depending.
d)  File an petition with the dept. Adminstrative head, for remarks, against the PIO officer.
e)  RTI applicant, will be able to attach the PIO's personal bank account for recovery of damanges and compensation, awarded under the CPAct.


4.  The specific PIO  (eg. Mr. xyz)  will have to appear before the CPA forum and will be held liable & responsible in his personal capacity  and not the subsequent PIO's, (Mr. abc's)whosoever may take over after transfer / demise of the original PIO.
(Under the Evidence Act).


5.  Similarly, the PIO is fined u/s 20 of the RTI Act, in his personal capacity, and the dept., is in no way responsible for paying the RTI penalty for the fault of the PIO.  The dept. may be directed to deduct the same from the salary of the PIO, in such cases.


6.  TIME IMMATERIAL,  EVEN if all the courts are full to the brim and overflowing with crores of cases,  IT is still better to file a CPAct against the PIO and fix him, subsequently reflecting on his Administrative record, which may have an effect on his retirement Pension.  ATLEAST,  to most PIO's,  it will serve as a detterent for his apathy & deliriction of duty.
EVEN ... AND,  if presumed that courts have all the time,  THEN the litigants are now more hopeful and desire'ful of more judicial decisions,  because of the above RTI - Consumer court ruling by the National Commission.

 

7.  AS IT IS, the brand new Law minister Mr. Moily, is working towards providing double shift courts,  fast track courts and increasing the number of judges by more than 2 times, before 2012.  AND further AS IT IS, how does it matter to the legal faternity,  the more cases, the more delay's, the more time-pass,  the more self-employment .... all translates into monetary returns (atleast from my thinking, angle)  (PUN intended,  "n"  times)
 

Keep Smiling .... Hemant Agarwal
 

1 Like

Bhartiya No. 1 (Nationalist)     25 January 2010

Will we become consumer when we pay registration fee for the registration of land? And what about court fee?

Hemant Agarwal (ha21@rediffmail.com Mumbai : 9820174108)     19 July 2010

Refreshing for benefit, comment & opinion of other readers.

 

Keep Smiling .... Hemant Agarwal


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