Supreme Court of India issued directions to the govt. authorities that RTI application fee should not exceed Rs. 50. The Supreme Court of India on 20.03.2018 directed all government authorities to make sure that the fee for an application under Right to Information (RTI) should not exceed Rupees. 50 and the fee for one page information should not be more than Rupees. 5.
The order had passed by a Bench headed by Justice A.K. Goel and Justice U.U. Lalit on a bundle of Petitions challenging the Right to Information Rules framed by several authorities.
The Hon’ble Bench had issued the following directions to the govt. authorities.
As a normal Rule, the charge for the application should not be more than Rs.50/- and for per page information should not be more than Rs.5/-. However, exceptional situations may be dealt with differently. This will not debar revision in future if the situation so demands”
No motive needs to be disclosed in view of the scheme of the Act
The third objection is to the requirement, in the Allahabad High Court Rules, for permission of the Chief Justice or the Judge concerned to the disclosure of information. The Bench has made it clear that the said requirement will be only in respect of information which is exempted under the scheme of the Act.
As regards the objection that under Section 6(3) of the Act, the public authority has to transfer the application to another public authority if information is not available, the said provision should also normally be complied with except where the public authority dealing with the application is not aware as to which other authority will be the appropriate authority.
As regards Rules 25 to 27 of the Allahabad High Court Rules which debar giving of information with regard to the matters pending adjudication, it is clarified that the same may be read consistently with Section 8 of the Act, more particularly sub-section (1) 3 in Clause (J) thereof.
Wherever rules do not comply with the above observations, the same be revisited as per this order since it is based on the mandate of the Act which must be complied with.
One of the Petitions, filed in the year 2012 by Common Cause through Advocate Prashant Bhushan, and had challenged the Allahabad High Court (RTI) Rules, 2006, challenging that these were ultra vires the Right to Information Act, 2005. It had pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the Rules compared with the Act.
For example, it had pointed out that Rule 3 constrained the information that could be sought on a subject, by laying down that “every application shall be made only for one particular item of information only”. Further, Rule 4 had demanded that each application is accompanied by cash, draft or pay order of Rs. 500, drawn in favor of the High Court Registrar General or the District Judge of the concerned District Court.
The Petition had emphasized the fact that this fee was 50 times the fee prescribed by the Centre govt. authorities, which had fixed it at Rs. 10. In reply, the High Court Allahabad had modified the Rules to lower the fees of Rs. 250 per application.
In the same way, the Petition stated that Rule 5 “impedes the common man’s access to information” by prescribing Rs. 15 per page as the cost of spreading of information. In a similar manner, it had challenged Rules 5, 20, 25, 26 and 27 of the Rules, stating that these were in clear violation of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India as well.
While this petition was pending, another Petition was filed challenging the Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha Secretariat Right to Information (Regulation of fees and costs) Rules, 2011. Filed by Mr. Dinesh Kumar Soni, the Petition had contended that the Rule requiring an applicant to pay Rs. 300 was ultra vires the Act.
The Rule, it had contended, had the “effect of abridging and infringing the right to information, thus, subverting the very object of the Act”.