Unwarranted fee demanded by PIOs to provide information under RTI Act
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the details of the land transactions made in Kalahandi district of Odisha in past 20 years.
Responding to the application, the public information officer in the sub-registrar office asked the applicant to deposit Rs. 21.94 lakh as the estimated fee of the requested information. In another instance, a person belonging to below poverty line (BPL) category used RTI Act to seek the details of food grain distribution in a gram panchayat of Kalahandi district. The PIO in the block development office, instead of providing him the information free of cost, asked him to deposit Rs. 2,000 as the fee for information.
Citing the above instances along with many others, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed with the Supreme Court stating that bureaucratic red-tapism has become a major obstacle in the free of information to the citizens. The petitioner said that only in 4% of cases are the PIOs penalized for delayed information and also told the court that as there is no penalty provision for providing irrelevant information, number of cases with higher forums is increasing. The petitioner also complained that though RTI Act doesn’t prescribe any particular format for applying for information, many offices seek application in a definite format failing which they deny information.