Gujarat High Court on September 10th, 2020 directed State Information Commissioner, Gujarat to a fresh start proceeding under Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2002 against 'the Mamlatdar Bhachau he has done breach of duty which results in deprivation of petitioner's right of Right to Information. Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2002 talks about the penalties. In this section where the Central Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Commissioner has failed to furnish the information without any specific reason under the Right to Information within the time specified for the same, such officer shall give a penalty of Rs 250 each day till the application is received or information is given, therefore the fine will not exceed the limit of Rs 25,000/-.
Justice A .Y. Kogje has pointed out in the order that " it is a fit case where the proceedings under Section 20 of Right to Information Act, 2002 needs to be initiated in view of non-compliance of the order passed by the State Information Commissioner as well as the casual manner in which the application of the petitioner to seek the right to information under the Right to Information Act, 2002 has been dealt with."
Under Article 226 Constitution of India, 1950 the present petition is filed which prays before the Court to order the respondent to furnish the information, detail, and documents sought by the petitioner in his application on April 19, 2018 under the Right to Information Act, 2002.
The petitioner, therefore, submitted that the application was filled in the 2018 which asks for the specific details about the information and documents but the Public Information Commissioner and Mamlatdar, Bhachau had refused to comply with the application on the ground that the information is confidential information under Section 8(1)(d) of Right to Information Act,2002.
Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2002 provides for certain exceptions from the disclosure of information under the Right to Information. Section 8(1) (d) specifically talks about that there shall be no obligation to give any citizen any information including commercial confidence, trade secret, or intellectual property nevertheless the authority satisfied that larger public interest is hidden in the disclosure of such information.
The petitioner first approaches the appellate authority but they did not take any action within the time specified for it. Then the petitioner's second recourse is Appeal before the State Information Commissioner. The State Information Commissioner had allowed the appeal and give directions to the respondent authority to furnish the information with are demanded by the Petitioner. But the respondent all together twist the matter saying that the information which is demanded by the petitioner is not available. They said that due to the earthquake in the area of Bhachau the government record is destroyed; hence information is not with the authority.
The petitioner in rejoinder states that the twist and turns by the authorities are just not to furnish the information from the very beginning.
The Court is satisfied by the argument of the petitioner's side that the respondent authority has failed to furnish the information to the petitioner and giving lamb excuse to escape from the liability.
The Court orders that the matter is reverted back to the State Information Commissioner to initiate proceeding against respondent authority under Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2002. The petition of the petitioner is allowed by the Court.