W.P.(C) 7611/2015 and CM APPL. 14775/2015
NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL v. ALOK KUMAR GHOSH
The current petition was filed by the Petitioner, National Green Tribunal (NGT) seeking quashing of the order dated 8th July, 2015 passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) in file no.CIC/SA/C/2014/001610 bearing the title Alok Kumar Ghosh v. PIO, NGT. Petition before JUSTICE PRATHIBA M. SINGH.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The RTI Applicant (Alok Kumar Ghosh) who is the current Respondent in the case filed an RTI application on 18th March, 2014 seeking disclosure of information from the NGT regarding the application, selection of candidates, quotas etc. for the employment in the NGT.
No reply was received to the RTI Application. Subsequently, the first appeal was filed. This received no consideration by the Appellate authority at the NGT and thus, matter reached the CIC.
The CIC, treated the RTI Application as a second appeal and considered the same as a complaint as well on the ground that the NGT failed to give any reply to the RTI Application.
On 8th July, 2015 the CIC noted that the ground on which the NGT failed to respond to the RTI Application was the non-payment of Rs.10/- as per the RTI Rules, 2012. The RTI Applicant (Respondent) had attached a court fee stamp of Rs.10/- instead of payment by cash, demand draft or electronic payment as required by the RTI Rules,2012. The CIC here arrived at a conclusion and ordered that the NGT’s stand was completely incorrect.
The CIC converted the matter into a complaint under Section 18 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) and went into the issue of the NGT’s stand of defending the second appeal by engaging a legal counsel/ advocate.
The CIC, through its above mentioned order came to the conclusion that the information asked for in the RTI Application is liable to be disclosed.
Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that after the passing of the order of 8th July, 2015, the information requested for in the RTI Application had been disclosed on 21st July, 2015.
The Court stated that that the NGT was at fault in the current case. It was further stated that, so long as the said amount was deposited, the non-reply by the NGT to the RTI Application, was not acceptable even though the same may have been filed with a court fee stamp of Rs.10/-.
The Court stated that the CIC was right in observing that as against the Rs.10/- which was to be paid by the RTI Applicant/ Respondent, the notices sent by the NGT would have incurred more expenditure.
The Court further observed that the CIC had gone ahead and apart from directing disclosure of the information, had given broad directions and such directions could not have been issued as the case before the CIC was primarily an appeal under Section 19 of the RTI Act. Thus, the directions to disclose the details of expenditure in respect of litigation expenditure as also the policy level decisions which were directed by the CIC were stated to be unsustainable.
NGT is a national tribunal and the Court mentioned that the RTI cell of the NGT ought to function properly. The Court accepted the explanations given by the Petitioner and had the opinion that directions with respect to expenditure incurred, policy regarding selection process and compensation (c to e) mentioned in the above mentioned order were liable to be set aside.
It was concluded with the Court stating that the RTI applications received by the NGT in future would be required to be dealt with strictly in accordance with the timelines and rules prescribed under the RTI Act and RTI Rules. Thus, disposing the petition accordingly.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ADITYA G S.