RTI Complaints Not Allowed Under Indian Consumer Law

5 February 2015

India’s national consumer commission has ruled that an dissatisfied right to information applicant may not seek recourse through  the Consumer Protection Act, according to the ruling and an article in The Hindustan Times.

Sanjay Kumar Mishra of Panchkula had filed a petition challenging the orders of a state RTI commission, claiming to be a consumer within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act. He was seeking compensation from the opposite parties, including a public information officer and the chief information commissioner of the Central Information Commission, Punjab.

The applicant contended that supply of information under the RTI Act is a “service” as defined in Section 2(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, provided that such services are not rendered free of charge. RTI requesters pay a fee.

Rejecting the idea of “two parallel machineries,” a three-person panel of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission  held that the person seeking information under the provisions of RTI Act cannot appeal to the Commission concerning alleged violations of the provisions of the RTI Act.

Appeals of RTI issues can be taken through RTI Act mechanisms, the consumer body decided. It could not have been the legislature’s intent “to permit a consumer forum to intervene, while providing a special mechanism for enforcement of the legal right conferred by the Act, and ousting the jurisdiction of the civil court,” the ruling says.

Apart from this case, there were 92 more RTI applicants who had approached the consumer protection body.

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