PIO can charge fees only according to Fee and Cost Rules

A recent memorandum issued by DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training) clarifies that public information officer (PIO) under RTI Act does not have power to charge fees for mailing of information, or for overhead expenses collection and supply etc of information to applicant.

The memo also states that “However, wherever supply of information in a particular form would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the records,  the PI0 may refuse to supply the information in that form.

The PIO already had that power under RTI Act, so it is not anything new which will put new curbs on citizens’ right to information.

The memo is also available here:

http://persmin.gov.in/WriteData/CircularNotification/ScanDocument/RTI/12_9_2009-IR.pdf

I have made the important points in bold in the above memo reproduced below:

N0.12/9/2009-IR  
Government of  lndia
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
Department of Personnel and Training
******
North Block, New Delhi
Dated  the 24′h May, 201  0
OFFICE-MEMORANDUM

Subject :  Payment of fee under the Right to lnformation Act. 2005 -  scope of sub-
section (3) of Section 7 of the Act.

*****

The Undersigned is directed to say that a question is raised from time to time
whether a Public lnformation Officer (PIO) has power to  charge fee  under Section
7(3) of the RTI Act. 2005 in addition to fee prescribed under Sections 6(1), 7(1) and
7(5) of the Act.

2.  Section 6(1) of  the Act enables  the Government  to  prescribe application fee
and sub-sections  (1) and  (5) of Section 7 to prescribe fee in addition  to application
fee  for  supply  of  information.  On  the other hand  sub-section  (3)  of  Section 7
provides the  procedure which a  PI0 has  to follow for  realizing  the fee  prescribed
under sub-sections (1) and (5) of the Section. Details of fees that can be charged by
a public  authority under  the  Central Government  are contained  in the Right to
lnformation (Regulation of  Fee & Cost) Rules, 2005.  The Rules or  the Act  do not
give power to  the PI0  to charge any fee other  than prescribed in the Fee and Cost
Rules. Attention  in  this regard is invited to following extracts from the common order passed by the Central lnformation Commission  in Appeal  No. CICIMAIAI2008/0185
(Shri  K.K.  Kishore  Vs.  Institute  of  Company Secretaries of  lndia)  and  Complaint
No.CICMIBIC12007/00943  (Shri Subodh Jain Vs. Dy. Commissioner of Police) :

 
"The Act under proviso to sub-section (5) of Section 7 also provides that fee
prescribed under sub-sections  (1) and  (5) of  Section 7 shall be reasonable
and no such  fee  shall be charged from  the persons who are below poverty
line  as  may  be  determined by the Appropriate Government.  The
Government has already prescribed fees as deemed reasonable mandated
under Sections 7(1) and 7(5) of  the Act  and  in the view of the Commission,
there is no provision for any further fee apart from the one already prescribed
under Sections 7(1) and 7(5) of the Act".

"Thus, there  is provision for  charging of fee only under Section 6(1) which  is
the application  fee;  Section 7(1) which  is the  fee  charged for photocopying
etc. and Section 7  (5) which  is for getting information in printed or electronic
format. But there  is no provision for any further fee and if any further fee  is
being  charged  by  the Public Authorities  in  addition  to what  is  already
prescribed under Section 6(1), 7(1) and 7(5) of the Act, the same would be in
contravention of the Right to lnformation Act.  The "further fee" mentioned in
Section 7(3) only refers to the procedure in availing of the further fee already
prescribed under 7(5) of the RTI Act, which is "further"  in terms of the basic
fee  of Rs.101-  .  Section 7(3),  therefore, provides for  procedure for realizing
the fees so prescribed".

3.  The Commission, while delivering decision  in above cases, recommended to
this Department to make rules, for charging fee towards supply of information which
may include fee for supply of books, maps, plans, documents, samples, models etc.
that are priced and towards  postal/courier  charges for mailing information, when
postal/courier charges are in excess of minimum slab prescribed by the Department
of Posts and for other similar situations.

 
4.  The Right  to  lnformation (Regulation of  Fee  &  Cost)  Rules,  2005 already provide provisions for charging of fee for giving information in diskettes or floppies or in the form of photo copy; for providing samples, models, printed material like books, maps, plans etc; and for  inspection of records.  The Government have, however, not considered  it  desirable to charge fee towards expenditure involved  in  mailing information or  overhead expenditure  etc.  Nevertheless, supply  of  information in  a
form which  would  disproportionately divert the resources of  the  public authority  is
taken  care  of  by  Section  7(9)  of  the Act  according  to  which information  shall
ordinarily be provided in the form  in which  it  is sought but supply of information  in a particular form may be refused  if supply of information in that form would divert the
resources of the public authority disproportionately.

5.  It is hereby clarified that where a Public lnformation Officer takes a decision to provide information on  payment of  fee  in addition to  the application fee,  he should determine the quantum of such fee in accordance with  the fee prescribed under the Fee  and  Cost Rules  referred  to  above  and  give the details  of  such  fee  to  ‘the applicant together with the calculation made to arrive at such fee.  Since  the Act or
the Rules do not provide for charging of fee towards postal expenses or cost involved in deployment of man  power for supply of  information etc.,  he  should  not  ask  the applicant to pay fee on such account. However, wherever supply of information in a particular form would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the records,  the PI0 may refuse to supply the information in that form.

6.  Contents of this OM may be brought to the notice of all concerned.

signed (K.G. Verma)
Director
Te1.23092158

1.  All the Ministries/Departments of the Government of lndia.
2.  Union Public  Service  Commission/Lok  Sabha  Secretariat/Rajya  Sabha
Secretariat/Cabinet  Secretary/Central  Vigilance  Commission/President’s
Secretariat/Vice-President’s  Secretariat/Prime  Minister’s  Office/Planning
Commission/Election Commission.
3.  State Information Commissions
4.  Staff Selection Commission, CGO Complex, New Delhi.
5.  O/o the Comptroller 8 Auditor General of  India, 10, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg,
New Delhi.
6.  All  Officers/Desks/sections,  DOPT  and  Department  of  Pension  and
Pensioners Welfare.

Copy to :  Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs,

Copy also to  :  Central  Information  Commission  with  reference  to the
Commission’s recommendation referred  to above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>