Thursday 19 January 2012


Chief Information Commissioner and Anr Vs. State of Manipur and Anr (Decided on 12.12.2011) MANU/SC/1484/2011
Denial of Information - Challenge thereto - Application filed under Section 6 of Right to Information Act for obtaining information from Competent Authority relating to magisterial inquiries initiated by Manipur Government from 1980-2006 - Application did not receive any response and a complaint was filed under Section 18 of Act before State Chief Information Commissioner who by an order directed Respondent No.2 to furnish information within 15 days - High Court held that under Section 18 of Act Commissioner has no power to direct Respondent to furnish information and further held that such a power has already been conferred under Section 19(8) of Act on basis of an exercise under Section 19 only - Division Bench further came to hold that direction to furnish information is without jurisdiction and directed Commissioner to dispose of the complaints in accordance with law - Hence, present writ petition
Held, This Court was of view that Sections 18 and 19 of Act served two different purposes and laid down two different procedures and they provided two different remedies. It is well-known that legislature does not waste words or say anything in vain or for no purpose. Thus, a construction which lead to redundancy of a portion of statute could not be accepted in absence of compelling reasons. In instant case there was no compelling reason to accept construction put forward by Respondents. Apart from that procedure under Section 19 of Act when compared to Section 18 had several safeguards for protecting interest of person who had been refused information he had sought. Section 19(5) in this connection might be referred to. Section 19(5) puts onus to justify denial of request on information officer. Therefore it was for officer to justify denial. There was no such safeguard in Section 18. Apart from that procedure under Section 19 was a time bound one but no limit was prescribed under Section 18. So out of two procedures, between Section 18 and Section 19, one under Section 19 was more beneficial to a person who had been denied access to information. There was another aspect also. Procedure under Section 19 of Act was an appellate procedure. A right of Appeal is always a creature of statute. A right of appeal is a right of entering a superior forum for invoking its aid and interposition to correct errors of inferior forum. It is a very valuable right. Therefore, when statute conferred such a right of Appeal that must be exercised by a person who was aggrieved by reason of refusal to be furnished with information. In that view of matter Court upheld the impugned judgment of the Division Bench
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