Quasi-judicial bodies must record reasons for decision on complaints: HC
Says it facilitates the process of judicial review by the superior courts and is also necessary for sustaining the litigants’ faith in the justice delivery system
Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted that recording of reasons is indispensable in the decision-making process for quasi-judicial authorities while adjudicating on complaints filed before it. “…the same facilitates the process of judicial review by the superior courts and is also necessary for sustaining the litigants’ faith in the justice delivery system. It has further been repeatedly held that reasons so given in support of a decision must be cogent and clear and should not be “rubber stamp reasons”,” the bench of justice Vikas Bahl said while quashing the decision of Punjab State Information Commission wide which the complaint of a Ludhiana resident about incomplete disclosure of information was closed.
The court while quashing the order on closure of complaint, termed it as “non-speaking and cryptic” and said it deserved to be quashed on this ground alone and asked the commission to decide it afresh.
The petitioner, Gagnish Singh Khurana, had challenged July 20, 2021 order of the state information commission, wide which his appeal was disposed of and closed. He had sought information under the RTI Act in November 2019 from PSIEC about allotment of Phase VIII, Focal Point, Ludhiana. As per the plea, it was not supplied within 30 days even as the Right to Information Act, 2005, mandated the same. Subsequently, as per the plea, his complaint in the state information commission was disposed of taking a note of a “false affidavit” that some of the record sought was not traceable. No information was sought from the PSIEC about whether the record had been lost or destroyed or was never available. Also, if lost or destroyed, whether any DDR was got recorded, the petitioner had argued.
The high court observed that a perusal of record would show that despite the fact that the petitioner had stated that he was not satisfied with the information provided, the state information commission “chose to close the proceedings” only on the basis of an affidavit submitted by the authorities.
The court also took a note of the fact that record produced does not clarify whether the brochure of the scheme as sought under the RTI was ever issued or not or that the same was issued but is not traceable and in case, same was not traceable whether any DDR was registered.
“In the order passed, no reference to the facts of the case has been made nor the details of the information sought by the applicant have been mentioned, nor the fact as to whether any information on any of the points had been given or not has been stated. Even the contesting claims of both — the petitioner and the respondent number 2 and 3 (government agencies) —have neither been noticed nor been answered,” the bench recorded, adding that the state information commission is a quasi-judicial authority which was required to adjudicate the appeal and was required to state the facts of the case, the pleas raised by the relevant parties and the reasons for rejecting the pleas of one party and for accepting the pleas of the other while passing the final order.