Chhattisgarh High Court: Goutam Bhaduri, J. imposed a penalty under Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 due to delay in the information sought by the seeker.
In the present case, Counsel for the petitioner Shalvik Tiwari submitted that the petitioner sought information in respect to the following:
- In the primary health centre Banji, Khogapani, Behrasi, Banjaridad, Bhaiswar and other primary health centers different amounts were received by the Chief Medical & Health Officer, particulars of the amount so received and the date thereof was sought for.
- Primary health center as to what equipments were purchased for how much amount?
- Copy of the cash-book from November, 2008 till 28-03-2009 i.e. the date of application.
Counsel submits that, no information was provided to the petitioner within a period of 30 days from such request; therefore petitioner preferred an appeal under Section 19(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The above-stated appeal remained unanswered for a period of 45 days and lastly, the second appeal was filed before the Commission under Section 19(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Further, it was contended that Commission directed respondent 3 to provide a certified copy of the required documents. From the date of initial application, until the final documents/information was supplied, approximately 23 months of delay was caused. Therefore, penalty as required under sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the Act, 2005 should be imposed on the respondents.
Counsel, Shyam Sundar Lal Tekchandani, represented respondent 1 and Sudeep Verma, Dy. GA for the State represented respondents 2 and 3.
On perusal of the record, it is evident that the initial application seeking information was made under Section 6 of the Act, 2005. No information was supplied within 30 days as contemplated under sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the Act, 2005.
It is also observed with the entire facts with order-sheets of the second appeal shows that the information as sought for were supplied to the petitioner quite late. The entire course would reveal that there has been almost a delay of 23 months with respect to the information sought for and eventually satisfaction arrived by the seeker.
The statutory requirement under sub-section (1) of Section 20, the legislation has used the word ‘shall’ for imposing the penalty. However, the outer limit has been fixed of Rs 25,000.
In the present case, since the delay has been caused of about 23 months, as a result, respondents 2 and 3would be required to pay a penalty of Rs 25,000, which may be imposed under sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the Act, 2005.
Court also added that, since the information was not provided as per the requirement of the statute, the respondent 3 would be required to pay an amount of Rs 25,000 which shall be deposited with the treasury within a period of 3 months. [Rajesh Kumar Patel v. CIC, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 99, decided on 13-09-2019]