Right to Information
RTI applicants are not consumers, rules NCDRC

An RTI applicant cannot approach Consumer Forum seeking compensation for deficiency in services rendered by public authorities


The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has said that Right to Information (RTI) applicants seeking information from public authorities are not consumers as per the Consumer Act. In addition, all RTI applications and redressal or grievances, if any, have to be dealt as per the RTI Act only, the NCDRC said.
In an judgement given on 8 January 2015, the three member bench of NCDRC declared that no RTI applicant can file a complaint before a Consumer Forum seeking redressal in case of any deficiency services rendered by a Public Information Officer (PIO) or Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in any public authority.
This decision would help clear the confusion regarding whether an RTI applicant can be treated as a consumer, as she pays certain fees while filing an application. The Bench said, “…because the RTI Act was set up as a special statute, which also articulates a procedure for  grievance redressal, allowing RTI applicants to approach the Consumer Forum would beat the ‘legislative intent’ of the RTI Act.” 
Under the Act, the State or Central Information Commission is empowered to impose a penalty upon the PIO/CPIO in question and also recommend disciplinary action against them. Moreover, under Sub Section (6) of Section 18, they can also direct the concerned PIO/CPIO to pay a suitable compensation to the aggrieved RTI applicant, the Bench said. 
According to the judgement, allowing RTI applicants to be treated as “consumers” and hence letting them approach Consumer Forums in order to seek compensation would “open two parallel machineries, for enforcement of the same rights created by a special statute”. Furthermore, “The ambit of RTI Act is confined to one service i.e. supply of information, whereas the Consumer Protection Act deals with deficiencies in a wide variety of services rendered for consideration,” the judgement reads. 
The judgement also states, “Consumer fora are ‘courts’ for the purpose of Section 23 of the RTI Act, which is significant, because Section 23 of the RTI Act bars the jurisdiction of courts. As explained in the judgement, the very purpose of doing this was ‘to exclude invocation of a redressal mechanism’ other than that provided under the special Act.”
This would avoid any confusions or disputes with respect to the grievance redressal mechanism for any RTI applicant in future. The judgement clearly articulates that no RTI applicant can be considered a “consumer”, and that the Consumer Forum is barred from intervening in any matters pertaining to the provisions under the RTI Act. 


No kerosene subsidy for those who get regular electric supply?

According to a proposal received by Oil Ministry households that have received electricity as per 2011 census, should not be given kerosene at subsidised rates


Dharmendra Pradhan, the Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, on Monday said that the government has received a proposal to keep households that are getting regular supply of electricity out of subsidised kerosene sales.
After trimming cooking gas (LPG) subsidy through direct cash transfer to intended beneficiaries, the Oil Ministry is looking at ways to cut kerosene subsidy, which last fiscal was Rs30,575 crore.
“The states should reduce their dependence on kerosene. One of the proposals that we received was that the households that have received electricity as per 2011 census, should not be given kerosene,” Pradhan said addressing a seminar on Energy Security.
He however did not say if the government was in agreement with the proposal.
Kerosene is used in rural and urban poor for both lighting and cooking purposes.
Paying cash subsidy to actual users of cooking gas will help trim the LPG payout by about 15%. Last fiscal, LPG subsidy was around of Rs46,458 crore.
Stressing on the need for reducing kerosene subsidy, Pradhan said that although kerosene is a subsidised product there should be a demarcation line for subsidy on kerosene.
He said the proposal to cut supply of subsidised kerosene to households getting regular electricity should be thoroughly examined before taking it forward.
“We also need to see the position of electricity supply in those areas, whether it has actually reached the end user or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, defending the government’s move of not reducing fuel prices in the domestic market after the global crude prices declined, he said, the government will reduce the prices when an opportunity comes.
“Yes, it is true it has not been passed on to the end consumers but substantially it has been passed on, in order to neutralise inflation we have brought down the price of petrol, we will reduce it further when another opportunity comes.”




2 years ago

The subsidy on Kerosene has always helped the Ration shop owners with oil mafia in all most all parts of India instead of the poor people who are in need of it. The Government is aware of it. Then why the Government is not taking steps to stop this robbery. We know the answer better. But is it wise to link it with electricity? The authorities should know what to do to help poor people to get kerosene through open competition rather than fair price shops.

Supreme Court refers Italian Marine's plea to another bench
Latorre, one of the two Italian marines facing murder charges in the Kerala fishermen killing case, is seeking extension of his stay in Italy on health grounds
The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu Monday referred to another bench a plea of Massimiliano Latorre who is seeking extension of his stay in Italy on health grounds. Latorre is one of the two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012.
The bench also comprising Justice AK Sikri said, "It is not proper for us to take up the application because we have earlier expressed some reservations and made certain observations."
The bench, while noting that some other development had taken place, said, "Let it be placed before another bench."
The bench was referring to the heart surgery undergone by Latorre on 5th January.
While posting the matter for hearing on Wednesday, the bench in its order said, "On earlier occasion, an application filed by the petitioner had inter-alia made a plea seeking more or less the same relief. While hearing the said application, we had made certain observations."
"Having made the observations on the application filed earlier we deem it not proper to take up the application for hearing and post it before another bench day after tomorrow," the bench said.
Latorre, one of the two Italian marines facing murder charges in the fishermen killing case had, on 7th January moved the apex court seeking extension of his stay in Italy on the ground that he had undergone a heart surgery on 5th January.
The case against marines pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board ship 'Enrica Lexie' off Kerala coast on 15 February 2012.
The bench had earlier refused to grant the extension to Latorre and had also rejected the plea of co-accused Marine Salvatore Girone, who had sought the apex court's nod to go to Italy to celebrate Christmas saying they cannot get such 'leeway'.


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