Right to Information Act is no doubt a wonderful law , India has enacted. It provides ordinary citizen to question the delay , efficiency and lethargy of public servants. A very important judgment has been delivered by Delhi High court which was hearing the case filed by Union of India. The judgment , not only went against the Union of India , but also is helpful in understanding the power and jurisdiction of CIC under RTI Act. Here is the details of the order
The brief facts of the case are that on 27.7.2007, Dr Ajai Kumar Jain applied to the Passport Officer, designated as Information Officer claiming disclosure of information, relating to a passport application made by him in December, 2006 as well as the application of his wife. The applicant’s grievance at that stage was that even though he applied for passport, for more than eight months, and though the Passport Office’s website indicated (in March, 2007) that police report was “OK”, yet in July, 2007, different information was posted asking for two specimen signatures on blank piece of paper. The applicant further asked for information pertaining to the time limit within which passports were to be issued.
The CPIO by order dated 13.8.2007 responded to the application (dated 27.07.2007) stating, inter alia, that so far as the information placed on the website was concerned, it was updated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the reason for delay in issue of passport had been given in column-1 i.e. that it was for want of fresh passport application along with attested copy of all documents and passport application of his wife and son.
The decision of Delhi High Court
It is well settled that the jurisdiction under Article 226 is both discretionary and equitable. The existence of technical question and error of jurisdiction need not persuade the Court to exercise such jurisdiction unless it is satisfied that the ends of justice required it to do so. By filing the present Petition, the Union of India has not only disclosed utter insensitivity to its duty as an authority under the Passport Act but also aggraved the agony to a citizen who sought for a passport and was kept completely in the dark. It suggested unreasonably that a fresh application had to be made without, disclosing the fate of the previous application, or why such fresh application was necessary. It has not questioned, in this proceeding, the direction by CIC to issue passports on the basis of the old applications – this establishes that its requirement to the applicant to move afresh was unjustified. In the circumstances, even while allowing the Writ Petition to the extent that award of compensation of Rs.5000/- is set aside, the Union of India is hereby directed to pay costs to the second respondent to the extent of Rs.55,000/-. The same shall be paid within four weeks.