The CIC ruled that the PIO had erred in demanding additional fees from the appellant since the mandated period of 30 days was over. This is 151st in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) under the officer of Superintendent of Police at Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s Animal Husbandry Department Branch in Ranchi, to provide the information and refund the additional fees of Rs1400 paid by the appellant.
While giving this judgement on 20 May 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “Since the letter for additional fees was received after the mandated period of 30 days, the information should be provided free of cost as per the provision of Section 7(1) & 7(3) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.”
Sanhouli (Dist Kagaria, Bihar) resident Shailendra Singh Tarkar, on 8 May 2010, sought from the PIO attested copy of the report of the multi-crore medical store depot (MSD) scam which was sent to the Health Department in Bihar government by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Patna.
The PIO, in his reply asked Tarkar, the applicant to pay additional fee towards copying charges. The PIO stated, "Please refer to your application dated 08.05.2010, received in this office on 11 May 2010 , requesting therein to provide copies of SP's Report covering MSD Scam Cases under Right to Information Act. In this context, it is requested to deposit Rs1,316 towards the necessary fee for Xeroxing the documents [@Rs2 per copy] in accordance with the provision of Right to Information (Regulation of fee and costs) Rules, 2005 at the earliest so that the desired documents may be provided to you under RTI Act, 2005."
Since the letter demanding additional fees was sent after 30-days period, Tarkar said he should receive the copies free of cost. In his first appeal Tarkar said, he filed his RTI application on 8 May 2010 and received PIO's reply dated 10 June 2010 only on 22 June 2010. "Since the letter for additional fees is received after the mandated period of 30 days the information should be provided free of cost as per the provision of Section 7 (6) of the Act," he said.
After examining the appeal, the First Appellate Authority (FAA), in his order said, "The CPIO has informed that application was received on 11 May 2010 and reply has been sent on 10 June 2010. Thus, there is no delay in disposal and it cannot be presumed that information has been denied."
Not satisfied with the FAA's ruling, Tarkar approached the CIC with his second appeal, which said, "Since, the letter demanding additional fee was received after 30 days, the information should be provided free of cost as per Section 7(6) of the RTI Act."
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC noted that the appellant (Tarkar) paid Rs1,400 and received the additional information from the PIO. Tarkar told the Bench that although he had received the report from the PIO, in another communication; the Bihar government informed him that it had not received the report on MSD scam from the CBI.
Mr Gandhi, then directed the PIO to send a copy of the covering letter with which the MSD Scam report was sent to the Bihar government along with proof of dispatch of this report to the state government. "If any acknowledgement has been received from Bihar government about the receipt of this report, then an attested photocopy of the same would also be sent to the appellant," the CIC said.
The Bench noted that the then PIO had erred in demanding additional fees from the appellant since the mandated period of 30 days was over. It said, "The FAA has also erred since after recording that the PIO had received the RTI application on 11 May 2010 and that the demand or additional fees was sent on 10 June 2010, he has held that the demand for additional fees was justified."
Section 7(1) & 7(3) of the RTI Act are relevant and are given below...
"7. (1) Subject to the proviso to sub-section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to sub.-section (3) of section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, on receipt of a request under section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9:
(3) Where a decision is taken to provide the information on payment of any further fee representing the cost of providing the information, Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall send an intimation to the person making the request, giving-
(a) the details of further fees representing the cost of providing the information as determined by him, together with the calculations made to arrive at the amount in accordance with fee prescribed under sub-section (1), requesting him to deposit that fees, and the period intervening between the despatch of the said intimation and payment of fees shall be excluded for the purpose of calculating the period of thirty days referred to in that sub-section;"
While allowing the appeal, Mr Gandhi said, "In the instant case since the letter demanding additional fees was sent on the 31st day the information should have been sent free of cost as per Section 7(6) of the RTI Act."
The Bench directed the PIO to provide the information before 5 June 2011 and also refund the amount of Rs1,400 paid by the appellant before 30 July 2011.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000296/SG/12458
Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000296/SG
Appellant : Shailendra Singh
At PO Sanhouli, Dist Kagaria,
Respondent : RC Chaudhary
CPIO & SP-CBI,
Office of the Superintendent of Police,
Animal Husbandry Department Branch
Deen Dayal Nagar, Police Station -Lalpur,
District Ranchi, Jharkhand
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