The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked all the high courts to follow the rules framed by the Centre under the RTI Act 2005 to ensure that no exorbitant fees are charged from people seeking information under the transparency law.
A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit also said the high courts should not insist upon disclosing the motive from the information seekers.
The court asked the high courts and other authorities to ensure that except for information which are exempted under the law, all other details sought must be disclosed.
If the particular information is not available with the public authority, the application must be transferred to other authorities concerned as stipulated under the law, it said.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO - Common Cause - said the fees charged for filing an RTI application must be uniform and reasonable as the Centre has stipulated Rs 10 for it and Rs 2 per page for photocopying.
He pointed out the Allahabad High Court had earlier fixed Rs 500 as the rate for filing an application and Rs 50 as photocopy charge for each page.
"The rules framed by these high courts had got a deterring effect and acted as a disincentive to a fundamental right. The RTI Act and rules framed thereunder would have an overriding effect on any other rules," he said.
The counsel, appearing for the Allahabad and other high courts, submitted that the fees have been reduced to Rs 50 for an RTI plea and Rs 15 as charge for photocopying of each page.