Fee of Rs. 22 lakh demanded for furnishing information under RTI
An application was filed with the district administration of Kalahandi district in Odisha under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the details about the land transactions made in the district over period of 20 months.
In the reply to the application, the District Sub-Registrar stated in the letter that the applicant needed to pay a total of Rs. 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. lakh in order to get the demanded information. The reply stated that there are 6,658 documents are related to the demanded information. It stated that the administrative cost for searching these files will be Rs. 4.78 lakh, and stated that other fees included were inspection fee (Rs. 1.39 lakh), copying fee (Rs. 1.71 lakh), urgent fee (Rs. 66,580), stamp fee (Rs 66,580) and user fee (Rs. 12.71 lakh). The District Sub-Registrar said that the reply to the application would have required a gigantic administrative exercise. So, the application was forwarded to Odisha e-Governance Service Limited which estimated the cost to be Rs. 21.94 lakh.
The RTI activists, however, claimed that such a high cost was estimated on fictitious accounts as RTI Act doesn’t provide for inclusion of searching fee, urgent fee or user fee and alleged that it was an attempt on the part of the government to discourage information seekers.