Information Obstructed On Wrongful Claim Of Cost

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Public Information Officer of Orissa Information Commission is alleged to have contravened the Right to Information Act by obstructing information under wrongful claim of cost thereof whereas the Chief Information Commission has not yet granted any relief on the complaint filed against the PIO.

Raising this allegation, Pradip Pradhan, an eminent RTI activist, has cited an instance that shows how an applicant has been asked to deposit fees for the information required even though he being a person below the poverty line is exempted from paying any such fee.

According to Pradhan, “On 23.3.09 and 25.3.09, Mr. Kunja Bihari Patra, a BPL person of Nayagarh district submitted two RTI Applications to Orissa Information Commission seeking some information about its functioning. In his replies dated 21.4.09 (letter no. 4260/OIC) and (letter no. 4265/OIC) the PIO of the Commission asked Mr.Patra to deposit Rs.78/- and Rs.48/- respectively towards cost of information. The shocked applicant has filed a complaint case against arbitrary orders of PIO of the Commission before the Chief Information Commissioner under Section 18 of RTI Act with a prayer for getting the requested information free of cost and for severe penalty against PIO
under Section 20 of RTI Act.”

Section 7(5) of the Act stipulates that the “fee prescribed under sub-section (1)
of section 6 ( application fee) and sub-section (1) ( cost of information) and (5) ( cost of information in printed or any electronic format) of section 7 shall be reasonable and no such fee shall be charged from the persons who are below poverty line as
determined by the appropriate Govt.”

Patra’s complaint is yet to obtain a decision.

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