High court: Cryptic orders being passed in RTI complaints - Hindustan Times
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High court: Cryptic orders being passed in RTI complaints

By, Chandigarh
Aug 23, 2023 12:15 AM IST

Now, it has been directed that the points sought by the applicant be recorded in the order and reply should be given point wise

Taking note of large number of pleas coming to high court against “cryptic orders” passed by the appellate authorities, including state information commissioners, under the Right to Information Act-2005, the Punjab and Haryana high court has issued a slew of directions for proper adjudication of complaints.

The court directed the chief secretary of Punjab and Haryana and UT’s advisor to circulate this judgment and other recent such judgments mentioned in the order for the perusal to all authorities constituted under the Act for complying with the same.
The court directed the chief secretary of Punjab and Haryana and UT’s advisor to circulate this judgment and other recent such judgments mentioned in the order for the perusal to all authorities constituted under the Act for complying with the same.

“This court has found that in a large number of cases, the authorities, including the first appellate authority and the second appellate authority under the Act, have been passing cryptic and non-speaking orders in violation of the judgments passed by the Supreme Court and various high courts and also in violation of the mandate of the Act of 2005,” the bench of justice Vikas Bahl observed while disposing of a plea from an Amritsar resident against an order passed by the state information commissioner, Punjab.

Now, it has been directed that the points sought by the applicant be recorded in the order and reply should be given point wise. “A categorical finding as to whether the information on any of the points has been supplied or not and if supplied, the date on which it has been supplied. In case, it is the stand of the authorities from whom the information is sought that the information sought under a particular point is not to be supplied on account of any bar contained in any provision of the Act of 2005 or for any other reason, then, after recording the said stand and after considering the submissions made by both the parties with respect to said point/issue, return a finding with respect to the said issue/point,” the bench said adding that any other observation which the authority deems fit can also be recorded.

The court directed the chief secretary of Punjab and Haryana and UT’s advisor to circulate this judgment and other recent such judgments mentioned in the order for the perusal to all authorities constituted under the Act for complying with the same.

In the case in hand, an Amritsar resident had sought some information from police under RTI in September 2022. As he was not satisfied with the information supplied, he filed an appeal before the first appellate authority (designated within the department) and subsequently before the state information commissioner, Punjab, as he was not supplied proper information. The information commissioner disposed of his plea in March 2023 but he approached the high court claiming that “cryptic and non-speaking” order was passed by the commissioner.

After perusal of the order, the court observed that no reference has been made to various points on which the information was sought nor whether pointwise information was supplied. “It has been vaguely stated that the requisite information has been supplied and that the authority found the response of the PIO to be satisfactory. From a reading of the impugned order, neither the case of the petitioner nor the stand of the respondents is clear, nor it can be ascertained as to information under which clause/point of the application has been supplied and when,” the bench recorded.

The court further observed that the commissioner was acting as a quasi-judicial authority and was, therefore, required to adjudicate the case after considering the facts of the case, pleas raised by both the parties and was required to record reasons for rejecting the pleas of one party and accepting the pleas of the other party.

“The order should have been self-explanatory and reasons given in the same should not have been rubber stamp reasons. The same has not been done in the present case and the impugned order passed is cryptic and non-speaking,” the court further recorded remanding back the case for re-adjudication.

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