NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court today stayed an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to pay Rs 20,000 as compensation to an RTI applicant for delay in providing the information sought by him.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw put on hold the operation of the August 18 order of CIC, which had observed that the NGT instead of furnishing the information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act was "taking it as a prestigious legal battle" and "unnecessarily fighting the common man with strength of taxpayers' money".
During the hearind, the judge however observed that when NGT "is levying penalties all over Delhi, it should also pay them. ... You (NGT) should also feel the pinch." Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for NGT, contended that the commission was not empowered to impose costs on a public authority, but only on the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the authority. The high court also sought response of the RTI applicant, S C Agrawal, who had sought information regarding selection and appointment of current NGT Chairperson, the staff provided to him at his residence as well as rules for making appointments in the tribunal, and listed the matter for further hearing on November 6.
The commission, in its August 18 order, had directed the tribunal to pay the amount within a month and had listed it for compliance on September 30. It had also observed that Agrawal's demand for compensation was justified.