The Delhi High Court clarified that while considering a complaint made under Section 18 of the Right to Information Act (Act), the Central Information Commission (CIC) cannot direct the concerned Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to provide the information which the complainant had sought from him.
Sections 18 & 20 of the Act provides for the penalty and the disciplinary action to be recommended respectively against the concerned CPIO who has refused to provide any information requested under the Act or who has not given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limits specified under the Act. Section 19 provides for the appeal procedure before the first appellate authority and the CIC.
The Court said, “It is, therefore, obligatory for the Commission to decide such a complaint on merit instead of simply directing the CPIO to provide information which the complainant had sought. If the Commission finds that the CPIO had without reasonable cause refused to receive an application for information or had not furnished information within the prescribed time or had given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information, it is required to impose prescribed penalty upon such a CPIO/SPIO, as the case may be.”