Use of postal stamp as a mode of payment of fee under RTI Act
As per Office Memorandum No.1/3/2014-IR issued under the signature of Sandeep Jain, Director at the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), comments have been called from the public regarding introduction of postal stamps as RTI fee/cost.
As per the RTI Rules, 2012 the prescribed payment of RTI application fee/Cost is through the following modes:-
1. Postal order (IPO),
2. Demand Draft,
3. Banker’s Cheque,
4. Cash against receipt,
5. For filing of online RTI applications, the facility of e-IPO and Debit/Credit Card is available.
Earlier there have been demands from the public to bring reform in the modes of payment of fees. Even the full bench of CIC in it’s decision in the case No. CIC/BS/C/2013/000149/LS dated 27.08.2013, had urged DoPT to consider acceptance of RTI stamps as a mode of payment of RTI Fee and Costs. The DoPT had examined the issue in consultation with Department of Posts and the latter expressed its inability to print exclusive RTI stamps. Subsequently, Department of Posts recommended the use of definitive series of postal stamps which are ubiquitously available in the Post Offices across the country in different denominations. It further added that, the RTI applicants would also need to affix the said stamp(s) on the RTI application. The RTI applicant(s) by putting his signature or thumb impression shall cancel the said postage stamp(s) to prevent it from misuse/re-use.
With the approval of the then MoS (PP), it was decided that acceptance of postal stamps as mode of payment of RTI fee and cost would require amendment in the RTI Rules notified on 31.7.2012 only, the recommendations of CIC may be noted and considered as and when amendment to RTI Rules are considered.
Recently, the CIC in its recent decision dated 12.12.2014 in File No. CIC/SA/C/2014/000038 has again recommended to DoPT to adopt the proposal of the Department of Posts of use of ordinary Postal Stamps for payment of RTI fee.
The DoPT has observed that the introduction of Postal Stamps as one of modes of payment for RTI application fee would require amendment to the RTI Rules, 2012 and has pointed that certain issues need to be sorted out before taking any decision:-
i. Use of ordinary postal stamps for the purpose of RTI may lead to accounting problem, as it would not be possible to account amount collected for RTI through ordinary stamps. Section 25(3)(e) of the RTI Act lays down that each public authority is required to communicate to CIC/ SIC, as the case may be, the amount of charges collected under this Act for incorporation in their Annual Report.
ii. There is apprehension of misuse of ordinary stamps for the purpose of RTI, in the absence of specific procedure for crossing such stamps.
iii. Whether postal stamps may be considered for initial RTI fees only or for payment of additional fee also.
The DoPT has formed a Committee to look into the above and other related issues and has invited views/suggestions from the citizens for the consideration of the Committee. The views/suggestions, preferably not exceeding more than one page, may be sent latest by 7.2.2015 through email to Shri R.K. Girdhar, Under Secretary (RTI), North Block at email@example.com.
For a look at the DoPT circular, the readers may refer to the link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/circular/1_3_2014-IR-14012015.pdf