In A significant judgment,the Punjab State Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 40,000 on a Punjab Police IG for delay in providing information to an applicant and providing false information. While Rs 25,000 has to be paid by the IG out of his salary,Rs 15,000 has to be paid as compensation to the applicant by the police department.
The order passed by Ravinder Singh Nagi on Tuesday held IG of State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) B K Garg guilty of causing inordinate delay of over a year-and-a-half in providing the information sought under the RTI Act,2005 apart from willful concealment of material facts,both from the complainant as well as the commission.
The applicant,Bant Singh a resident of Rajpura and his son Gurpreet Singh were arrested by the Rajpura police in 2002 in a assualt case. The case was investigated by Sub-Inspector Willian Jeji,officiating SHO of Sadar police station in Rajpura.
Bant Singh was kept in the police station for two days on the pretext that the duty magistrate before whom he was to be presented was on leave.
This was later proved to be false. Bant Singh contended that when this high-handedness and attempt of the police officers to mislead the authorities came to his notice,he wrote to the Patiala SSP in 2010 and later to the ADGP (Crime),requesting sanction under Section 197 of the CrPC to prosecute Jeji.
In January 2011,Bant Singh sought details of daily progress report on his letters under RTI. DIGP (Crime)-cum-APIO wrote back saying that his letter had been considered,closed and consigned to records while in reality,Bant Singhs letters had been considered and various orders passed on them.
The correct information was provided to Bant Singh only after the intervention of the information commission. The commission issued a showcause notice to B K Garg IG (Crime) during the period when false information had been provided to the applicant.
However,the commission was not impressed with Gargs plea. By no stretch of imagination can it be said that it was an inadvertent error on the part of the respondent or it had crept in through oversight, the order stated.
The commission has now asked Garg to deposit Rs 25,000 from out of his salary in the government treasury. Though a penalty for delay over 18 months in providing the information at the rate of Rs 250 each day would come to much more, the order said.
It added: A number of hearings have taken place in this case. Apart from suffering monetary detriments for attending the same,Bant Singh has also been subjected to lot of irreparable mental harassment and agony,which,of course,cannot be compensated in any terms. Yet,in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act,2005,the commission hereby awards him a compensation to the tune of Rs 15,000 payable by the public authority.
The orders were reserved by the commissioner on January 30 when both parties were present in the commissioners court.