An RTI applicant is paying to seek information and can therefore be considered a consumer, a recent Nagpur consumer court ruling has suggested, with the forum ordering a tardy public information officer (PIO) to pay Rs 1,000 as compensation for 'deficient service'.
The Additional Nagpur District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum was hearing a case filed by Kishore Kadbe of Nagpur district, who had sought information on action taken on a police case he had filed. (Details of the police case are not currently available to the press.)
"Each RTI applicant must affix a court fee stamp to the application, which means he is paying to seek information and is therefore a consumer," said advocate Anand Patwardan, explaining the premise of the order.
Kadbe's RTI application was filed on February 24. When he received no reply within the stipulated 30 days, he appealed to the local sub-divisional police officer (SDPO), who did not respond either.
In August, Kadbe approached the consumer forum, saying the lack of information had caused him physical and mental agony.
"Kadbe has proved that the PIO was deficient in his service and [performance of] his duty," observed the three-member forum, ordering the PIO to pay Rs 1,000 as compensation and Rs 300 towards legal costs.