Skip to main content

Uttar Pradesh's new RTI rules "require" below poverty individuals to pay fees to make Right to Information plea

By Our Representative
The newly published Right to Information (RTI) Rules by the Government of Uttar Pradesh (UP), where one of the highest percentage of poor of the country live, do not allow Below Poverty Line (BPL) individuals to file RTI without any fees. A recent analysis has found that the UP RTI Rules 4(4) & 5(1) “do not differentiate between APL and BPL RTI applicants.”
Suggesting that this runs against the RTI Act, senior RTI activist of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative says in an e-mail alert that under the Act the BPL “applicants need not pay any fee” if they “show proof of BPL identity to claim fee waiver.”
“The UP RTI Rules do not clarify this issue”, says Nayak, warning, “Unscrupulous Public Information Officers (PIOs) are likely to start quoting this Rule to tell BPL applicants that the law has been changed requiring them to pay both application fee and additional fee to obtain information.”
Pointing out that “this has happened in other places earlier”, Nayak says, Central Information Commissioner (CIC) “in an order a few years ago said that public authorities should not reject an RTI application for non-payment of application fee. It can always be collected along with the additional fee at a later date.”
In fact, Nayak says, the Uttarakhand government goes so far as to permit “the PIO to receive an RTI application unaccompanied by the application fee whom he will notify requesting fee payment. This is a citizen-friendly approach.” As against this, “the UP RTI Rules only create new grounds for PIOs to reject RTI applications in an unreasonable manner.”
Commenting on the UP RTI Rule 5(4), which permits a PIO to charge an RTI applicant for labour and material involved for supplying copies of maps and plans, Nayak insists, “This Rule has been made in complete ignorance of the standards set by the CIC.”
Nayak notes, “In the case of Subodh Jain vs DCP, West District, Delhi Police a full Bench of the CIC ruled in 2009 against charging labour, wages, search and collation fees under the RTI Act. Where maps and plans are involved only reproduction costs may be charged.”
Comments Nayak, “The UP RTI Rules appear to misinterpret the additional fee provisions laid down in Section 7 of the RTI Act. Leaving so much discretion in the hands of the PIO is likely to result in abandonment of the principle of reasonableness of fee required under the proviso of Section 7(5) of the RTI Act.”
Pointing towards another lacuna, the analysis says, the UP RTI Rule 13(1) “permits an appellant/complainant to withdraw an appeal or complaint”, while “under Rule 13(3) an appeal or complaint will abate upon the demise of the appellant/complainant.”
Comments Nayak, “Given the current scenario where 50 RTI users/activists or their kin have been murdered and hundreds more have been beaten up severely or subjected to ostracizing in a bid to make them withdraw their complaints these provisions will be used by vested interests to force an end to appeals and complaints cases”.
Recalling that when the Government of India “contemplated similar provisions, it backed off after trenchant criticism from civil society”, Nayak says, “UP has already witnessed the murder of at least 6 RTI users/activists during the last 10 years even in the absence of withdrawal and abatement provisions.”
He adds, “There is no need to strengthen the hands of vested interests in a legal manner. RTI is not in the nature of people's right to property, which will get extinguished with their withdrawal or demise. Information of interest to one person may be of interest to others.”

Comments

Its the courts that led this way! Almost all high courts have kept the application fee and cost much, much higher than what has been prescribed by the central govt. In fact some of them have introduced fee for 1st appeal also when actually it is only an additional opportunity given to the public authority to correct the mistake of its PIO!

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

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.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara 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".