The Central Information Commission has directed the Delhi High Court to amend its RTI fee rules for local courts bringing them in conformity with the provisions of the Right to Information Act.
The case reached Central Information Commission after Patiala House court demanded Rs 50 from an applicant for filing first appeal against the reply provided by its Central Public Information Officer under the RTI Act.
The Delhi High Court while exercising its power under Section 28 (1) of the Right to Information Act made the Delhi District Court (Right to Information Rules, 2008) under which which Rule 11 deals with the provision concerning charging of fees during First Appeal.
According to the RTI Act, fee can only be charged at the stage of filing of the RTI Act. The transparency law does not have any provision of levying fee at the stage of first appeal within a department or second appeal before the Commission.
“Imposing a fee of Rs 50 as mandatory requirement at the first appeal level is not in consonance with the fee structure prescribed by Act and Rules by Central Government. Except Rs 10 fee at the stage of filing request for information with the PIO, the law does not prescribe any fee at any stage including at the second appeal level at the Information Commission,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said in his order.
The Commission recommended Delhi High Court to amend the rules to bring it in conformity with RTI Act, for effective provision of access to information and to bring uniformity with the rules made by DoPT which are also followed by the Supreme Court.
“Right to information can be culled out from fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21 and from freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) which was more specifically guaranteed by Right to Information Act,” Acharyulu said.
“Any further restriction or change introduced through rules, will not only transgress the Right to Information Act, but also violate Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(2) of the Constitution,” he said.
“The Commission… observes that Delhi District Court (RTI) rules contain a provision which is not provided in the parent RTI Act,” he pointed out.