Ministry seeks Rs 2 more for RTI info

Ministry seeks Rs 2 more  for RTI info

When it comes to adhering to rules, the government department often becomes a stickler, throwing norms of pragmatism to the winds.

In the latest such instance, the Home Ministry has demanded Rs 2 from an RTI applicant as photocopying charges in order to furnish him the information. This is over and above Rs 10 that an applicant has to pay for seeking any information under the transparency law. In the process, it spent over Rs 20 for sending a registered letter to the information seeker.

The Central Information Commission has disapproved of this practice saying there was nothing wrong in demanding charges for photocopy of a document but it should not go to the extent of spending more money in sending a letter, requisitioning the desired amount.

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra asked the public information officer to keep this factor in mind while demanding charges for photocopies.

“We understand that the chief public information officer (CPIO) of the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the appellant to deposit Rs 2 for providing the copy of one page of information. While technically this might be correct, it is not prudent to do so because in the process, much more public money is lost in correspondence. We hope the CPIO will keep this in mind while demanding photocopying charges in future,” the commissioner said.

In the instant case, noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal sought information regarding the conferring of Padma awards in 2013 and certain controversies associated with it. The President’s Secretariat as well as the MHA provided certain information.

But Agrawal was not satisfied with the information provided by the CPIO. He contended that the CPIO did not address the queries adequately. Upon this, the CPIO asked him to visit the websites concerned. When Agrawal insisted on being provided the information in hard copy, the CPIO asked him to first deposit Rs 2.

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