The high court of Bombay at a Goa has set aside an order by the Goa state information commission passed in 2009 that dismissed an appeal filed by RTI activist Kashinath Shetye seeking information about the annual property returns filed by the police officers.
In 2008, Shetye had sought information from the PIO at the police headquarters about the annual property retuns filed by the deputy superintendents (DySPs) and their superiors (in traffic matters) from 1998 . This information was denied under section 8(1) (j) of the RTI act by the PIO and the first appeallate authority. Subsequently, Shetye had approached the Goa state information commission (GSIC ).
Dismissing the appeal filed by Shetye, the GSIC on April 28,2009 observed thus: "The manner in which the information was sought and since there is no nexus of the information required of the annual returns of all DySP and of the officers above them, with the rest of information which refers only to traffic matters, the appellant is not entitled for the information sought."
The GSIC order was challenged before the high court. During the hearing of the case before the high court, Shetye's lawyer, R Menezes, argued that the GSIC had given the liberty to the petitioner to file a fresh application, which is not at all required in view of the fact that no reasons are to be given for seeking such information in terms of Section 6(2) of the Right to Information Act.
He pointed out that any information which can be furnished to Parliament and/or to the State Legislature can always be furnished to the citizen. E Afonso, an additional government advocate, argued that that the information which has been sought comes within the exception as contemplated under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act. He contended that the petitioner has sought voluminous information and such request is not at all reasonable within the provisions of the said Act.
Referring to the provisions of the Act, the high court observed, "On plain reading of the provisions, the question of giving any reasons or showing any nexus as to why such information is sought by a citizen is not at all sustainable. Hence the finding of the respondent no 3 (GSIC) to the effect that the petitioner has to show the nexus as to why such information is required is erroneous and deserves to be quashed and set aside."
While setting aside the order of the GSIC and the first appellate authority, the inspector general of police, the high he court directed the first appellate authority to decide the applications afresh. [TOI]