Information cost must not mar the objective of the RTI Act
The Public Information Officer (PIO) of Uttar Pradesh Assembly secretariat has turned down an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information about presence of former Chief Minister Mayawati in the House during the five-year tenure of the BSP government citing that the petitioner had not deposited the stipulated Rs 500 fee and the required amount for photocopying documents at the rate of Rs 15 per page. Presently, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariat charge an application fee of Rs. 10 and a further fee of Rs. 2 per page for providing photocopy of the document under the RTI Act. The applicant demanded for parity in fee structure of legislative bodies so that the poor could also get information under the RTI Act.
Accessibility of information at a high cost goes against the very spirit of the RTI Act as well as the spirit of social inclusion. Hence, there is a need for a common fee rule for the whole of the country to make the information available to the common people at a nominal cost. This would avoid also multiplicity of fee rules and add to the simplification of the procedure.