Demand for the further fee must be made soon after the RTI application is received
Vide Office Memorandum (OM) F. No.12/31/2013-IR Dated 11.2.2013, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India, it has been directed that all PIO’s should intimate the applicant timely about payment of additional fee under RTI Act, 2005.
The OM refers to the observation of the Central information Commission (CIC) that some Public Information Officers (PIOs) inform the information seeker about the additional fee under sub section 7(3) of the RTI Act at the fag end of the thirty days period prescribed for providing the information under sub-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: of the RTI Act. The OM directs that the demand for the photocopying charges must be made soon after the RTI application is received so that the information seeker has time to deposit the fees and receive the information within the prescribed thirty days period.
In one of its orders, the CIC has mentioned that while there cannot be any hard and fast rule about when exactly the intimation about the photocopying charges should be conveyed to the information seeker. The order further said that it is implied in the prescribed time limit that the demand for the photocopying charges must be made soon after the RTI application is received so that the information seeker has time to deposit the fees and receive the information within the prescribed thirty days period. If the information sought is not voluminous or is not dispersed over a large number of files, computation of the photocopying charges should not be a time consuming task. As soon as the RTI application is received, the holder of the information should decide about how much information to disclose and then calculate the photocopying charges so that the CPIO can immediately write to the information seeker demanding such fees.
Hopefully, the OM issued by the Deputy Secretary Mr. Sandeep Jain, would expedite the process of providing information to the applicants.