Last Updated on September 24, 2023 by The Health Master
In a recent development, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has raised concerns over the issuance of ambiguous and non-transparent RTI orders by authorities under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act).
This issue came to light in the case of Rajwinder Singh v. State of Punjab and others.
Justice Vikas Bahl, presiding over the case, highlighted that such obscure orders are not in line with the intent of the RTI Act and are also in contradiction with judgments delivered by the Supreme Court and High Courts.
Judicial Observations on RTI Orders
Justice Vikas Bahl’s ruling brought to attention the recurring pattern of authorities, including the first Appellate Authority and the second Appellate Authority, violating the provisions of the RTI Act by issuing RTI orders that lack clarity and meaningful explanations.
The judge’s order emphasized that these actions were in defiance of established legal precedents set by the higher courts as well as the fundamental principles outlined in the RTI Act of 2005.
The court stressed the following key observations:
- Information Sought and Points Raised: The first and second appellate authorities should explicitly mention the points raised by the applicant in their RTI application.
- Point-by-Point Response: The orders must include a clear and specific response to each point raised in the applicant’s RTI request.
- Confirmation of Information Provision: A definitive statement regarding whether the requested information has been supplied or not, along with the date of provision, should be included.
- Reasons for Non-Disclosure: If the authorities decide not to provide information due to legal restrictions or any other reasons, such a rationale should be recorded clearly, accompanied by a reflection on the parties’ submissions.
- Additional Observations: Any other pertinent observations deemed relevant by the authority based on the case’s circumstances should be documented.
Implementation and Dissemination
The judgment further directed the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, along with the advisor to the administrator of Chandigarh, to distribute copies of this judgment to RTI authorities for immediate compliance.
This step is aimed at ensuring a higher standard of transparency and accountability in the RTI process.
Specific Case and Remand
The Punjab & Haryana High Court’s decision was rendered in response to a petition filed by Rajwinder Singh.
Singh had expressed dissatisfaction with an order issued by the State Information Commission (SIC), Punjab.
The High Court, while partially granting the petition, ordered the SIC to re-evaluate the RTI appeal. This was due to the earlier order lacking proper reasoning and clarity.
Justice Bahl underscored the importance of orders being self-explanatory and reasoned, rather than generic and superficial.
The Court’s view was that the SIC, as a quasi-judicial entity, must adhere to the requirement of delivering reasoned judgments.
It is crucial to note that the Court’s decision to refer the matter back to the RTI authority does not imply a final verdict on the case’s merits.
The Court’s primary concern was to ensure a fair and reasoned decision-making process.
Representation in the Case
During the proceedings, Advocate Amandeep Singh Saini represented the petitioner, while Senior Deputy Advocate General of Punjab, Rohit Bansal, appeared on behalf of the State authorities.
This ruling marks a significant step towards enhancing transparency and accountability within the RTI framework, ensuring that the objectives of the RTI Act are upheld while adhering to established legal principles.
Disclaimer: This article contains information derived from the source mentioned below. Our team utilized an AI language model to rewrite and present the news or article in a unique format.
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