The Tamil Nadu Government has directed Public Information Officers (PIOs) to abstain from engaging a Government Counsel in matters where the PIO intends to challenge imposition of penalty under Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Section 20 of the Act empowers the CIC or the SIC to recommend disciplinary action or impose a penalty on a PIO while deciding on a complaint or a second appeal.
“The Commission feels that it is not fair or correct for a Government counsel to be party to challenge the orders of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission on behalf of a person penalized by the Tamil Nadu Information Commission,” a letter from the Government Secretary stated.
The letter makes reference to a communication from the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission, informing that the Government of engagement of the Special Government Pleader (Taxes) by a PIO to challenge a penalty of Rs. 25,000 levied on him by the State Commission.
“The Government have carefully examined the request of the Secretary, Tamil Nadu Information Commission and direct that in all the cases where the Public Information Officer has been penalized under Section 20 of the Right to Information Act by the Tamil Nadu Information Commission, the Public Information Officer shall not engage the Government Counsel to defend the case against the orders of the State Information Commission,” the letter, thereby, stated.