Information delayed is right denied
SCIC Slaps Rs 23,000 fine on Dy Collector of Jamnagar Stamp Duty Valuation Office for 10-yr late reply
State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC), R N Das, slapped a hefty fine of Rs 23,000 on the Deputy Collector of Jamnagar Stamp Duty Valuation Office on Thursday. This is the highest penalty so far.
The verdict was delivered on the petition of one Pruthaben Badiyani, who had applied under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, seeking to know the progress made on her application for payment of stamp duty on a property she bought in 1996. She had been applying since 1996 to know how much stamp duty she needed to pay. In 2004, the State Government came out with an amnesty scheme, and Badiyani applied again demanding a certified copy of the order that asked her to pay the stamp duty.
This time she was asked to deposit Rs 7,925, which she did on March 10, 2005. Following this, she asked for the return of the registered documents of her property, and despite repeated reminders failed to get them.
Failing to get redressal, Badiyani applied under the RTI Act on October 17, 2005. Reply came on January 18, 2006. Despite receiving the information sought, Badiyani preferred to continue with her appeal on delay and the matter came up for hearing before SCIC. Last hearing was held on November 4.
In his written reply, the deputy collector admitted that owing to his preoccupation with Jamnagar Municipal Corporation elections, his lower staff might have committed some mistakes leading to the delay.
In his verdict, Das found the explanation given by the deputy collector as unreasonable and untenable on the grounds that though the complaint under RTI Act was made only in October 2005, the grievance in fact goes back to 1996, making it a fit case for imposition of penalty.
With the delay being of 92 days from the time of submission of application to actual receiving of information by the complainant, the SCIC slapped a fine of Rs 23,000 at the rate of Rs 250 per day, to be credited by the respondent within 30 days of the order.