Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Tarlok Singh Chauhan J. directed all the Panchayat Secretaries in the State of Himachal Pradesh to provide death certificate as demanded by any person or authority under the Right to Information Act.

The instant application was filed seeking direction to the Panchayat Secretary, Shingla, Development Block, Rampur, District Shimla, H.P. to provide the death certificate, Legal Heir Certificate and BPL Certificate in respect of Baldev resident of Village Dakolar, Post Office Shingla. As per the provisions contained in Section 8(1) J and Section 11 of Right to Information Act, 2005 as the aforesaid officer refused it.

It was brought to the notice of the Court that the Death Certificate, Birth and Death Register is maintained by the Panchayat Secretary of concerned Gram Panchayat as a local Registrar Birth and Death. Death Certificate is provided by the Panchayat Secretary to the family members of the deceased person only. It was further noted that the copy of Death certificate of late Sh. Baldev was requested to be provided under the RTI Act, 2005 and accordingly as per provision 11 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005 for providing Third Party information wife of deceased was inquired who refused to provide certificate of her deceased husband and accordingly as per Rule 8(1)(j) and 11 of the RTI Act, the applicant/Advocate was intimated accordingly by the concerned Public Information Officer-cum-Panchayat Secretary Shingla.

The Court observed that once a party has died, his death certificate cannot be termed a ‘Third Party Information‘, as that information relates/related only to the deceased. It was further observed that entries in Birth and Death Register are public documents and admissible under Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act and it is not necessary to prove, who made the entries and what was the source of information.

The Court directed that “henceforth whenever a copy of death certificate is demanded by any person or authority under Right to Information Act, or even on simple paper, the same shall be given by all the Panchayat Secretaries in the State of Himachal Pradesh, subject to of course on usual charges.”

[OIC Ltd. v. Hira Devi, FAO (WCA) 417 of 2012, decided on 27-08-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


 Appearances

For Appellants: Mr. Ashwani K. Sharma and Mr. Mayank Sharma

For Respondents 1 and 2: Mr. Sarthak Mehta

For respondent State: Mr. Ashok Sharma, Mr. Vinod Thakur, Mr. Shiv Pal Manhans, Mr. Hemanshu Misra, Mr. Bhupinder Thakur, Mr. Kewal Sharma, Additional Director (Panchayati Raj) in person.

Case Briefs

Jharkhand High Court: Sujit Narayan Prasad, J. dismissed a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India as he was aggrieved by the order passed by the Chief Information Commissioner on 24-12-2014.

The Chief Information Commissioner, in exercise of power conferred under Section 19(8)(b) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (‘RTI Act, 2005’), held the petitioner liable to make payment for an amount of Rs 50,000 by way of compensation to be paid in favour of the respondent for the harassment meted out to him by the petitioner. The Deputy Commissioner too had issued a communication to the petitioner to deposit the demand draft for the said amount in compliance of the order passed by Chief Information Commissioner.

The petitioner challenged these orders on the following grounds:

  • Since the petitioner was appointed as a First Appellate Authority, he cannot be held responsible to make payment of an amount of compensation.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner had committed illegality in view of the fact that the provision of Section 19 (8) (b), which provides power upon the Second Appellate Authority to make compensation upon the public authority and not upon the Commission.
  • The meaning of public authority has been defined under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005. Though the petitioner has the exercising power of a Public Information Officer, he cannot be held responsible for making payment of compensation, since he cannot be said to be a public authority within the meaning of Section 19 (8) (b) of the RTI Act, 2005.

High  Court, in this case, passed an ad-interim order that the petitioner, who held the post of First Appellate Authority, he cannot be treated as a public authority within the meaning of Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, 2005 even though he is presumed to be Public Information Officer. The Court further stated that in a case where the Deputy Commissioner could not pass an interim order, the petitioner will be subjected to irreparable loss.[Lalchand Dadel v. State Information Commission, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1179, decided on 11-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K. Agrawal, J. reversed the order of the State Information Commission whereby it had directed the Public Information Officer (“PIO”) of the Chhattisgarh High Court to furnish a copy of the oath taken and subscribed by Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice N.K. Agarwal.

The question to be considered was — whether the applicant was entitled to get the copy of oath taken and subscribed by the Judges of the High Court which they had taken before entering upon their office as prescribed under Article 219 of the Constitution or is it protected under the provisions contained in either Section 8(1)(e) or Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2007.

The applicant had invoked Section 6(1) of the RTI Act and sought a copy of the oath aforementioned. The PIO rejected the application in light of exemption provided under Section 8 (exemption from disclosure of information). The appellant filed an appeal before the First Appellate Authority which was dismissed. However, on further appeal, the State Information Commission passed the impugned order mentioned above. Aggrieved thereby, the PIO filed the present writ petition.

Praful N. Bharat, Advocate made submissions on behalf of the PIO. Per contra, the Shyam Sundar Lal Tekchandani, Advocate, represented the State Information Commission.

Perusing Section 8, the High Court observed: “The conflict between the right to personal privacy and the public interest in the disclosure of personal information stands recognised by the legislature in terms of exempting purely personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act of 2005. Under such exemption clause, the disclosure may be refused if the request pertains to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relation to any public activity or interest or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.”

Reliance was placed on Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. CIC, (2013) 1 SCC 212R.K. Jain v. Union of India, (2013) 14 SCC 794; and Canara Bank v. C.S. Shyam, (2018) 11 SCC 426. The Court observed further: “The applicant did not disclose any public interest much less larger public interest involved in seeking such information of the Judges in the said application, nor was any finding recorded by the Chhattisgarh State Information commission as to the involvement of any larger public interest in directing supply of such information to the applicant under Section 19(8)(a)(i) of the Act of 2005.”

Holding that the application failed to fulfill the requirement under Section 8(1)(j), the Court set aside the order of the State Commission.[PIO, High Court of Chhattisgarh v. Arun Kumar Gupta, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 91, decided on 05-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Alok Singh, J. dismissed a writ petition filed by Sahak Nagar Adhikari, who was Public Information Officer under Right to Information Act, 2005.

The petitioner contended that, a show cause notice was issued upon him which sought an explanation as to why a penalty should not be imposed upon him for providing delayed information. He gave a brief reply of the said notice and administered information to the said officer. Thereafter, State Information Commissioner adjudged the matter and imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 for delayed reply to the notice. He was aggrieved by the said order of the officer and therefore sought justice from the Court.

Mr Parikshit Saini, learned counsel for the petitioner, submitted that impugned order of the Information Officer was arbitrary and patently illegal, hence, was not maintainable. He argued that impugned order was ‘unreasonable’ and ‘non-speaking’, the officer failed to justify the penalty as he gave a brief reply as to why the delay was caused by him for discharging his duties. He relied on the judgment of Supreme Court, in Narendra Kumar v. CIC, 2014 (2) UD 72 where it was observed, “State Public Information Officer has decided any complaint or appeal without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time etc., in that event penalty can be imposed. In the further opinion of this Court, if there was reasonable cause for furnishing the delayed information then Chief Information Commissioner should not impose penalty merely because there was some delay in supplying the information.”

The Court observed that judgment in case Narendra Kumar was not applicable in the aforementioned case, as in the referred case information was not supplied in time because of natural disaster but in the case of petitioner there was delay of one year in supply of the information whereas Act, 2005 mandates to provide information within thirty days. Cause shown by the petitioner for delay in supplying the information was the excessive workload. The Court stated that, petitioner has not explained his excessive work; this was no ground for the delay in providing the information. One year delay in providing information under the Right to Information Act was too high.

It further held that Commissioner has assigned the reason for the penalty. “Providing information after one year that too on filing of appeal in the State Information Commission amounts to denial of information.” Court found no illegality or perversity in the impugned order and directed the petitioner to pay the aforementioned penalty.[Chandrakant Bhatt v. Uttarakhand Information Commission, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 356, decided on 10-05-2019]