The Karnataka High Court has passed a judgement on 9th February, 2023 that if an order is passed by the Karnataka State Information Commission imposing penalty on a Public Information Officer, without considering the written explanation submitted by him or permitting him opportunity to give oral explanation, then the order is in violation of the principles of natural justice and is liable to be quashed. This was in the case M Venkateshappa And The Karnataka Information Commission v. ANR and this is presided over by a single bench of Justice Jyoti Mulimani.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioner submitted the RTI application seeking information in respect of Objection in Para 39 of Draft Audit Report of the Officers of the Executive Engineer conducted by the Chief Audit Officer, BBMP, Bangalore during 2011-12 and certain other information. The office of the Chief Engineer transferred the said application to the Executive Engineer, Road and Infrastructure, Special Zone, BBMP, Bangalore. The Public Information Officer of the Executive Engineer (Roads and Infrastructure), Mahadevapura, Special Zone, and BBMP issued a letter to the applicant stating that the audit report for the year 2011-12 was not received by his office. The applicant preferred an appeal before the Superintendent Engineer, Road and Infrastructure, BBMP, Bangalore and the same was dropped since the applicant did not prosecute the same diligently. The applicant filed an appeal/ complaint under Section 19(3) of the RTI Act before the Karnataka Information Commission. The Commission directed to pay Rs.1,000/- (Rupees One Thousand only) as compensation to the applicant and directed to provide information free of cost. It is also averred that the applicant disputed the said information and stated that he has not received the complete information. It is also averred that at this juncture the petitioner was the PIO to Executive Engineer, Mahadevapura Zone, BBMP and no notice was served to him however, the notice was served on the petitioner only on 24.01.2017 through the BBMP officer.
Allowing the petition the bench said “I may venture to say that the Commission has failed to have regard to relevant considerations and disregarded relevant matters. In my considered opinion, the order passed by the commission is unsustainable in law.”
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY PRATIKSHYA P. BEURA