Is any fee payable by an applicant for searching the document?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting seeking copy of the censor certificate issued by a committee for one of the Kannada film. The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) asked him to deposit Rs. 70/- towards the cost of the certificate and Rs. 35/- towards the search fee as per the Cinematograph Act to obtain the certificate. During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant objected to the demand for such fees and wanted the information on payment of charges as prescribed under the RTI Rules.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the rules prescribed by various public authorities for disclosure of information including the fees charged for this purpose would prevail and the Right to Information (RTI) Act would not override such rules. Commission further held that section 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. of the RTI Act gives overriding effect to it over other laws and enactments only when there is anything inconsistent in those. The Commission ruled that the rules framed under the Cinematograph Act clearly provide for disclosure of information even if against prescribed charges, these are not inconsistent with the RTI Act and therefore the latter could not override the former. The CIC rejected the appeal and advised the appellant to pay the charges demanded by the public authority to get the certificate.
There has been a difference of opinion between some of the benches of CIC whether charging a higher fee under some other law amounts to an inconsistency with the RTI Act. The opinion seems to be divided and perhaps, the Supreme Court would have to clear the confusion.
Citation: Shri N Ravi Bharati v. Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/000927
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1007
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