The Delhi High Court has asked the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to deal with RTI applications strictly by the timelines prescribed under the law.
Justice Prathiba M Singh, while dealing with a matter related to NGT’s failure to respond to an RTI plea, said being a national tribunal, its RTI cell ought to function properly.
“Since the NGT is a national tribunal, the RTI cell of the NGT ought to function properly. Needless to add, the RTI applications received by the NGT in the future shall be dealt with strictly by the timelines and rules prescribed under the RTI Act and RTI Rules,” said the court in a recent order.
The counsel for the NGT told the court that now the tribunal has created a proper RTI Cell and the First Appellate Authority. The NGT counsel said the tribunal did not have full-time staff in 2013.
The RTI applicant had applied in March 2014 and sought disclosure of certain information on appointment to a certain post but no reply was sent by the NGT.
Following appeals, the matter reached the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) which not only converted it into a complaint but also went into the issue of the NGT’s stand of defending the second appeal by engaging an advocate and concluded that the information sought was liable to be disclosed.
The NGT approached the high court against the CIC order and argued that the authority had no power to pass such an order.
The court observed, “There can be no manner of doubt that the NGT was at fault in the present case and the non-reply to the RTI application was not an acceptable position.”
It, nonetheless, added that some of the “broad directions” given by the CIC, such as to disclose the details of litigation expenditure, could not have been given in the present case and are unsustainable.
The court set aside the CIC order to the extent that it directed the supply of information on details of expenditure incurred on dealing with the RTI application.
It also set aside directions to the tribunal authorities to make it a policy to disclose all results of recruitment tests or interviews, minutes of the committee selecting candidates, etc.
The direction to explain why compensation should not be awarded in the present case was also rejected.