CHANDIGARH: The Chandigarh Administration has amended the Union Territory, Chandigarh, Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005 which would now be called the Union Territory, Chandigarh, Right of Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) (Amendment) Rules, 2008.
Fee of Rupees fifty will be levied on an application for any request for obtaining information. This is already applicable in states of Punjab and Haryana.
As per the new amendments, now the Union Territory, Chandigarh, Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005, (here-in-after referred to as rules), Rule 3 would be substituted as "Rule 3 – A request for obtaining information under sub-section (1) of Section 6, shall be accompanied by an application fee of rupees fifty by way of cash against proper receipt or by demand draft or bankers cheque or by Indian Postal Order (IPO) payable to the Accounts Officer of the Public Authority".
Rule 4 shall be substituted as "Rule 4 – For providing the information under sub-section (1) of Section 7, the fee shall be charged by way of cash against proper receipt or by demand draft or bankers cheque or by Indian Postal Order (IPO) payable to the Accounts officer of the Public Authority at Rupee ten for each page created or copied, actual cost or price for samples or models and for inspection of record, Rs. 20 per 15 minutes or a fraction thereof."
Rule 5 will be substituted as "Rule 5 – For providing the information under sub-section (5) of Section 7, the fee shall be charged by way of cash against proper receipt or by demand draft or bankers cheque or Indian Postal Order (IPO) payable to the Accounts Officer of the Public Authority at Rs. 100 per floppy and Rs. 200 per CD and for information provided in printed form, at the price fixed for such publication or rupees ten per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication."
Flustered by ‘frivolous’ RTI applications, Admin raises fee to Rs 50
Chandigarh, February 14 Just five applications a day, and the Chandigarh Administration already seems to have buckled under RTI pressure. In what NGOs and activists say is an attempt to discourage Right to Information applications, the administration has increased the fee from Rs 10 to Rs 50 per application.
The administration, however, has said that the move is a way to curtail frivolous applications. This, when even senior officials of the administration have gone on record to say that they get only five RTI applications a day.
Officials in the administration said neighbouring Haryana, too, charges Rs 50 for every RTI application.
The move has also brought into the delay in providing queries by the administration. Sources said there is no proper management of data which causes delay in furnishing replies.
R K Garg, who is a regular with RTI applications, said the administration’s intention is clear from the fact that while the application fee has been hiked, there is no increase in penalty for delay in reply. “Frivolous is a very vague word... Only a few days ago, the CIC had addressed the issue and two weeks ago, a parliamentary committee had recommended that processing fee be discontinued on the lines of Chennai Petro Company. The awareness is growing it will soon take the shape of a campaign in Chandigarh,” he said.
Hemant Goswami, another active information seeker under the RTI, said the move was illegal and unjustified.
The success of “Smoke-free Chandigarh” is largely credited to the constructive use of the RTI Act, said Goswami. He has filed over 300 applications under the RTI.
“The administration’s claim that the move to hike RTI fee is to contain frivolous applications is very unfortunate. There are no provisions in the RTI Act which can be misused. Seeking any form of information can not be termed as frivolous. The citizens have all the right to obtain any kind of information which is held by any public authority. The official concerned may consider it frivolous because it exposes the inefficiency and corruption...” said Hitender Jain of Resurgence India.
New rates for RTI applications
* Fee per application— Rs 50 (earlier Rs 10)
* Charges for per page printed document : Rs 10 (hiked from Rs 2)
* Fee for providing information in CDs : Rs 200, (in floppy) Rs 100
* File inspection: Rs 20 for every 15 minutes
Citizens miffed at RTI fee hike, but say they won’t stop
Chandigarh, February 15 The citizens of Chandigarh have termed the Administration’s decision to increase five-fold the fee for an RTI application as “the high-headedness of a corrupt bureaucracy” and have warned that this will not daunt them in the quest for truth.
Talking tough, several activists including Hemant Goswami of the Burning Brain Society, lawyer H C Arora, Hitendra Jain and A P S Shergill said, “The Administration can forget about the Rs 50 fee. We shall not even pay the earlier fee of Rs 10 but will still manage to wriggle out the information.”
Civil rights workers have said information can be obtained under the provisions of Section 76 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872. Hemant Goswami said, “Section 76 says a certified copy of any public document can be sought without paying an application fee. Only 65 paisa is payable for each certified copy. If the document is not provided, legal action can also be taken against the head of the public authority who withholds that information.”
Goswami perceives this as a direct fight between a “corrupt bureaucracy and the common man.” He said it is deplorable that the bureaucracy is trying to muzzle a citizen’s fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. He added this move also defeats the objectives of the RTI Act.
Apart from this, the recent controversy on why there is no CPIO in the UT Administrator’s office, has also been sharpened. Members of citizens forums, who met at the Chandigarh PRess Club on Friday, said, “The UT Administrator has blatantly refused to follow the RTI Act. Besides, the UT Administration has also failed to fulfill its obligations under Section 26 of the RTI Act even three years after it was implemented. This means the Administration wants to keep all information to itself.”
Advocate Nitin Goyal said: “We are going to file an application under RTI on Saturday with the UT Home Secretary on why the rate has been revised. We shall want to know the definition of the word ‘frivolous’ from them since the rates have been hiked because the Administration wants to avoid ‘frivolous’ applications. We want to know how many ‘frivolous’ applications the Administration has received till now. We want an inspection under RTI of the ‘frivolous’ file.”
Civil rights activist Hitender Jain said this decision to raise the fee is illegal. He said, “Since the UT of Chandigarh has no legislative assembly, it falls within the definition of the central government. It is illegal for the Administration to make its own rules. In any case, the fee cannot be fixed arbitrarily, there has to be a rationale behind it. If we go by the Administration’s logic, any person who fights a case against the government can be officially called a blackmailer and his action ‘frivolous’.”
Advocate A P S Shergill added, “The corrupt section of the bureaucracy is trying to put up hurdles before the common man. They are preventing the desired regime of transparency and a corruption-free society.”
I am not satisfied by your reply.I want to know as who is empowred to issue a press releas ammending the RTI rules.Chandigarh is a UT and as such adminstered by Centre Govt.Are the officrs at Chandigarh empowreed(By what law)to amend the rules on their own.I hav already made a complaint to CIC under Section 18 of RTI.What are the other options available to me.
Section 27 gives powers to the "appropriate government" to make rules under the Act.
Under Section 28 of the RTI Act, the "competent authority" has the right to make rules under this RTI Act.
1. First someone will have to check if due process was followed in issuing these rules.
2. If the authority issuing the new rules is really the "appropriate government" or the "competent authority" as defined in Section 2(a) and 2(e) of the Act.
3. Section 29 requires that the Rule be approved by Parliament (since Chandigarh is a Union Territory). Has this been done or when will it be done ?
4. Similar instance happened in Punjab: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/2589-p...activists.html
5. Use RTI to understand the background as to why the rules were needed to be changed in the first place and who initiated the move to change these rules (probably by inspecting the complete file/files).
If there’s a raise in RTI fee, penalty should also be hiked
Chandigarh, February 18 Are the babus in the UT Administration working against the spirit of the Right to Information Act by hiking the application fee from Rs 10 to Rs 50 and per page cost from Rs 2 to Rs 10?
RTI activists in the city feel they are.
They say that the city’s “corrupt” bureaucracy, by hiking the RTI fees, has merely displayed its high-handedness and made an attempt to hide its nefarious activities. While the administration claims to be contemplating the idea of rolling back the RTI fee hike, RTI activists appear determined to continue their struggle against the decision.
RK Garg, a city-based RTI activist, told Newsline that he had moved another application to the Chief Information Commissioner, under Section 18 of the Act, asking him to direct Chandigarh Administration to issue necessary instructions to the Chandigarh Administration to at least update their official website. “What kind of a transparency is this? Who are the bureaucrats to decide what is frivolous and what is not? The information, which they might be terming as frivolous, could be quite informative for a common man. Moreover, when the residents are getting so aware that they have started exposing the corrupt practices going on in the bureaucracy, why would the bureaucrats like it,” Garg mentioned.
Hemant Goswami of Burning Brain Society said, “It’s a sheer game being played by the corrupt bureaucrats. They are trying to kill the RTI. One can recall the way information was sought from official departments before RTI came into force. One could go and bribe the dealing hands and get the information. By hiking the RTI fee, the bureaucrats are in a way encouraging corruption. If I need some information, which could be summed up in 100 pages; the cost for which would be about Rs 1000, as per the new rates. One could go and pay the bribe of Rs 200 to the dealing hand and get the information. Why would anybody file the RTI? The bureaucrats’ decision to hike the RTI fee indeed is an attempt to save their own skin and hide their wrong doings.”
While Garg has written to the CIC, Goswami has also shot off a letter to the UT Home Secretary on the behalf of the civil rights activists, mentioning that the administration should “scrap the illegal rules first and then Chandigarh could be made an example for the rest of the country to follow the RTI”.
“If the administration supports the civil society and scraps the illegally notified RTI rules, we can actually make Chandigarh a model city on this count too. The administration can also form an ‘Advisory panel on RTI implementation’ comprising of civil rights activists, journalists, lawyers, prominent citizens, etc,” Goswami added.
“The city is governed by the Union Home Ministry. The rates applicable at the Centre should have been made applicable here as well. The administration should seriously think on rolling back the RTI fee hike. In case a person really wants information, he would file RTI anyways. But the RTI fee hike appears against the spirit of the Act,” said Chandermukhi Sharma, a municipal corporation councillor.
“The fee of Rs 10 per photocopy is unreasonable and against the provision of Section 7(5) of the RTI Act, which requires reasonable fee. Photocopying is charged at just 40 paisa per copy and the Central Government has already incorporated an additional sum of Rs 1.60 to compensate for all manpower used, storage charges, etc. So it was improper to increase the charges to Rs 10 per page. There are already recommendations that the application fee too be scrapped but surprisingly, instead of following this recommendation, the unmindful bureaucracy has increased the application fee to Rs 50,” said Hitender Jain, another civil rights activist.
Meanwhile, Advocate APS Shergill said if the RTI fee was increased five times then the penalty for not providing the information or for giving frivolous replies too should be increased to Rs 1.5 lakh.
It is a common practice that CPIOs do not supply the information in stipulated period of 30 days under RTI Act yet charge for the Photostat copies from the applicant.
In this regard, while browsing through the RTI portal I have come across a provision as discussed below;
Point No.15 of (FAQ of RTI Portal) deals with details of fee to be charged under RTI Act),
As per Point No.15 (4): No fee will be charged from the applicants who are Below Poverty Line
And Point No.15 (5) says that no fee will be charged in case the requisite information is not supplied within stipulated period under RTI Act provisions.
To quote one case, in supplying of information by to CPIO Cash Branch and CPIO IT the Photostat charges of Rs 376.00 and Rs 126.00 have been charged for Photostat in contravention of provisions. The Information was supplied much beyond the stipulated period.
I hope there are many such similar cases also. The all concerned CPIOs should be asked to examine such cases and make refunds without asking for claims from applicants..
Chandigarh administration while increasing the fees under RTI Act should have informed the residents of the above provisions also.