Should there be a fee for filing an appeal under RTI Act?
As per the documents released under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), a proposal for demanding fees from citizens for filing appeals has been in existence with the government. Currently, the citizens have to pay an application fee of Rs. 10/- only for filing applications since 2009. In case of denial of information, the citizens are entitled to two levels of appeal, firstly, to the First Appellate Authority who is a designated officer of a public authority, and secondly, to the Central Information Commission (CIC). In both the levels, currently, no fee is payable for the appeals.
The Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) had sought approval to make citizens pay Rs. 10 every time they wanted to file an appeal against denial of information. This proposal was dropped in 2010. A call centre is now being planned to be set up to enable filing of applications over the phone and online. This setting up of the call centre has a provision for charging of fees for appeal. As per the blueprint for the call centre released in May, the private parties have to keep a provision in the system to collect a fee from those who challenge a public authority’s decision.
It has been pointed out by activists that the quantum of fee demanded is much less when compared to the efforts, time and money involved in making the payment of fee.