HC stays APIC order on appeal case 

[ Prafulla Kaman ]

PASIGHAT, 18 May: The Itanagar permanent bench of the Gauhati High Court (HC) has stayed a judgment order passed by Arunachal Pradesh Information Commission (APIC) on 17 March this year, which directed the Superintending Engineer (CSQ) PWD, who also is the Public Information Officer (PIO) to furnish information to an appellant free of cost within a month.

The APIC after receiving an appeal from one Shoney Pertin of Pasighat registered a case (No APIC-228/2021) and took up it for hearing.

Appellant Pertin, who sought information/official documents pertaining to past experience of completed works/ submitted by M/s Agam Construction, owned by Tarem Darang of Pasighat, when he applied for registration as Class- III, Class-II and Class-I registered contractor under APPWD.

The Commission held hearings of the case four times, but the PIO did not furnish the detailed information as sought by the applicant/appellant.

The PIO in his reply stated that the credential document sought by the appellant was “third party information,” whereupon the proprietor of M/s Agam Construction objected not to divulge or furnish the credential documents as sought.

The State Information Commissioner finally came to a decision that the information sought by the appellant (Shoney Pertin) is public document and should be available with the PIO (not third party information) which is not exempted from disclosure under section 8(1) (i) of the RTI Act, 2005.

The State Information Commissioner in the order noted that “every individual applying for registering himself or herself as registered contractor of any class or of any category under works department of the government has to submit his or her past experience of completed works as required under provisions of the Arunachal Pradesh Enlistment of Contractor in Works Department Rules-2008, and such completion of works must only be of public works.”

The APIC after completion of the hearings on the appeal case, arrived at a conclusion that the PIO was not justified in denying the information so sought in question to the appellant. The State Information Commissioner on 17-03-2022 ordered that the PIO shall furnish all information at free of cost to the appellant within a period of one month from the date of receipt of the judgment order.

But, significantly, proprietor of M/s Agam Construction of Pasighat, Tarem Darang is moving the HC, challenging the APIC order.

The High Court hearing the WP(C)-180/2022 case, on 17-05-2022 stayed the impugned order passed by the State Information Commissioner vide Appeal No. APIC-228/2021 and issued notice returnable in four weeks.

Earlier too, the owner of M/s Agam Construction moved the HC in similar cases, wherein the APIC ordered the PIO concerned to furnish credential documents pertaining to his firm.