Gujarat HC suggests SIC to improve the system of dispatching notice for hearing
Justice K M Thaker of the Gujarat High Court (HC) has pointed to the lack of system of maintaining records by the Gujarat State Information Commission (SIC) and has suggested it to follow certain procedure in issuance of notice and maintenance of records.
An applicant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 to the Public Information Officer (PIO) who happened to be the principal of a school. The PIO did not furnish information forcing the applicant to approach the SIC. The SIC issued notice to PIO and the proceedings were rescheduled on a couple of occasions till the case was taken up on June 6, 2011 where the PIO remained absent. The SIC imposed a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- on the PIO holding him guilty of violating the law by not furnishing information. The PIO approached the HC with a complaint that the SIC had completed the proceeding without hearing him. When the SIC produced documents to show that a notice had been sent which the PIO never received, the HC directed the SIC to initiate the proceeding once again, and decide on penalty later.
In its order, the Gujarat high court said "It appears necessary and appropriate to put a word of caution and suggestion to the commission that it is because of commission's system of dispatching notice of hearing and because of its lack of system of maintaining record of service of notice that such situation arise... Hence, the Commission should forward every and all intimations to the contesting parties by registered post as a regular procedure and it should maintain a proof of service of intimations."
In many Information Commissions in the country, the communication process and maintenance of records remains poor.