Can a senior officer fine his subordinates for not furnishing information ?
Can a senior officer fine his subordinates for not furnishing information under the Right to Information Act? No, says the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC).
In a recent order, the KIC ruled that penalty under Section 20 (1) can be levied only by the information commissions and that too only on public information officers.
State chief information commissioner K K Misra and state information officer K A Thippeswamy ruled this while hearing a complaint filed by nine officials from Kolar.
They were fined Rs 25,000 each — maximum penalty under the RTI Act, 2005 — by assistant commissioner of Kolar subdivision for denying information to an applicant.
"The commission is aware that it is responsibility of all concerned, including the PIOs, to provide information sought under RTI Act promptly. Inordinate delays defeat the very purpose of the Act. In case, any official holding information is found to have failed to provide the required information without reasonable cause, he must be dealt with severely and action has to be taken against him. The option of levying penalty under section 20 (1) is, however, not available to the first appellate authority," KIC ruled.
S Narayanaswamy, editor of local weekly, sought details of lands granted and copies of mutations from the tahsildar of Srinivasapura taluq.
After the tahsildar replied that information was not available, the applicant went on appeal before the assistant commissioner,Kolar sub-division.
In a surprise decision, the assistant commissioner, also the first appellate authority, slapped the highest penalty of Rs 25,000 on nine officials — from the tahsildar to the second division assistant to even the case worker — for having failed to furnish complete information.
Upset with the decision, the officials complained and the KIC set aside the impugned order passed by the assistant commissioner.
The KIC held that the first appellate authority has no powers to impose penalty under the RTI Act, but held that they can initiate disciplinary proceedings for dereliction of duty against the officials concerned.
Only info panels can slap RTI fine-Bangalore-Cities-NEWS-The Times of India
The CIC has decided opposite. See the decision here:
Both the decision are correct. The question which was answered by the State Information Commissioner As to who has the power to impose penalty not on whom penalty can be imposed.
CIC says for a fault of CPIO subordiante officer can be penalised. Which is illustrated here
Where as who has power to impose penalty is clearly stated in
(8) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to—
(a) require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including—
by providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form;
(ii) by appointing a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be;
(iii) by publishing certain information or categories of information;
(iv) by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records;
(v) by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials;
(vi) by providing it with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 4;
require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered;
(c) impose any of the penalties provided under this Act;
The officer hearing first appeal has no power to impose penalty.