Can further fee be charged for taking consent of employees for supplying the information?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) seeking information relating to all existing concessional telephone connections and BSNL Broad Band facilities provided to working and retired employees of DoT/BSNL and etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) did not provide the desired information.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant stated that the PIO had demanded an additional fee of Rs. 3375/- for taking consent of 151 employees/ ex-employees @Rs.25/- per employee for supply of information whereas there is no such provision under the RTI Act. The Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) stated that the appellant had given a particular format for supply of information and that they do not hold the information in the said format and compiling the same would have been very cumbersome and would have disproportionately diverted the resources of the public authority. The APIO admitted that the then PIO had erroneously demanded a fee of Rs.3375/- and the concessions in billing being provided to the employees/ ex-employees were as per extant rules and he would provide the name and the quantum of rebate allowed to each employee along with a copy of circular permitting such rebate.
View of CIC
The Commission directed the PIO to furnish the name and quantum of rebate being allowed to the employees/ ex-employees in billing (telephone & broadband) along with a copy of the relevant circular permitting such rebate to the appellant. The Commission referred to its earlier full bench decision (order in appeal no. CIC/MA/A/2008/01085) and held that the fees as prescribed under section 7(1) Subject to the proviso to sub-section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to subsection (3) of section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, on receipt of a request under section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9: and section 7(5) Where access to information is to be provided in the printed or in any electronic format, the applicant shall, subject to the provisions of sub-section (6), pay such fee as may be prescribed: Provided that the fee prescribed under sub-section (1) of section 6 and sub-sections (1) and (5) of section 7 shall be reasonable and no such fee shall be charged from the persons who are of below poverty line as may be determined by the appropriate Government. of the RTI Act can only be charged and there is no provision for levy of any other further fee.
Citation: Mr. B. N. Krishnamurthy v. Dy. General Manager (Admin) BSNL in File No. CIC/BS/A/2012/000378/2271
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1266
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission