Skip to main content

Decade-old Right to Information regime "fails to allow" simple, uniform rules for RTI payments across India

By Our Representative
A senior Right to Information (RTI) activist has taken strong exception to the way RTI rules of state governments failing to clearly indicate in whose favour non-cash payment instruments for filing RTI applications must be drawn. “It varies from public authority to public authority”, says Venkatesh Nayak in a letter he has dashed to Sanjay Kothari, secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India.
“It is unfortunate that this problem has persisted in the second decade of the implementation of the RTI Act, making it very inconvenient for citizens, particularly those living in rural areas, to make fee payments under the RTI Act”, says Nayak, who is Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi.
The problem, says Nayak, is not just faced by RTI applicants, but also Public Information Officers (PIOs), who are receive RTI pleas. “Several PIOs, across different states, have reported that they often end up paying the photocopying charges from their pockets, as withdrawal from the contingency funds gets delayed and puts them in danger of being penalised for delayed supply of information”, he points out.
This is because the “PIOs are required by the applicable financial rules to deposit all fees received from citizens in the bank accounts of their offices and make withdrawals from the funds allotted to meet contingency expenditure for paying the information reproduction charges”, the senior activist says.
Pointing out that while the RTI Rules notified by the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, requires all payments to be made in favour of the Accounts Officer, rules differ elsewhere.
“Several public authorities require these instruments to be drawn in favour of the DDO or the P&AO or some other authority”, says Nayak, adding, “For example, the web page of the Indian Army instructs RTI applicants to drawn up fee payment instruments in favour of “GSO-1 RTI Fund.”
Giving the example of Uttarakhand of how it has simplified the by allowing payments of all kinds of fees “in favour of the PIO or the APIO”, Nayak says, “This is a very convenient procedure for all RTI applicants as the requests for information are also addressed to these designated officers. This practice deserves to be emulated across all jurisdictions, including the Central Government.”
Nayak recommends, “The practice adopted in Uttarakhand can be uniformly adopted across the country using an existing financial procedural mechanism”, adding, “Upon a perusal of the General Financial Rules 2005 (GFR), I have found that it is possible to create a simple mechanism for making fee payments and spending the monies under the RTI Act.”
The GFR Rule 88, read with Rule 89, Nayak says, “permits the creation of a ‘Personal Deposit Account’ which can be operated by a designated officer for the purposes specified in that Rule.” The Rule 88 says, “Personal Deposit Account is a device intended to facilitate the Designated Officer thereof to credit receipts into and effect withdrawals directly from the account, subject to an overall check being exercised by the bank in which the account is authorised to be opened.”
As for the Rule 89, it says, “The Personal Deposit Account shall be authorised to be opened by a special order by the concerned Ministry or Department in consultation with the Controller General of Accounts.”

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”

Human rights 'abuses': Funding to India should be vetted, Greens tell Australian govt

Counterview Desk
A roundtable organised by Australian Greens, which is the third biggest political group in the country, held to discuss human rights situation in India at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney has insisted that parliamentarians, human rights activists and lawyers should play a more active role “standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India.”

Degrading conditions amidst Covid-19: Toxic ship at Alang, Gujarat, 'endangers' migrants

Counterview Desk
Evironmental activist Dr Gopal Krishna, who edits the ToxicsWatch journal, in an open letter to the chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee, Union Ministry of Shipping, with copies to the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and other Government of India ministries* has said that there exists “threat to Indian maritime environment and security from viral diseases like Covid-19 from ballast water and toxic substances.”