In a representation made to Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini, four law students Aastha Sharma, Ishwin Mehta, Paras Jain and Kumar Shanu have highlighted the inconsistency of the Delhi High Court’s RTI rules with the Right to Information Act, 2005. The students have claimed that the discrepancies and incompatibility have worked against the purported objective of the Right to Information Act, denying access to information and affecting Fundamental Rights of citizens.
Rule 10 of the High Court Rules prescribes Rs. 50 as the application fee and Rs. 5 per page for the physical or photocopies. This is despite the fact that the Rule 3 and 4 of the RTI Act provide for Rs. 10 as the application fee and Rs. 2 per page for copies. Rule 3 further prescribes that for each piece of information sought, a separate application should be made. No such provision exists under the RTI Act. The Representation hence says, “This is creating unnecessary financial loss in terms of extra paper, extra application fee, extra delivery charges as well as a more time-consuming process for both applicants and the public information officer.”
Section 7(5) of the RTI Act lays down that no fee would be charged for providing information to persons below poverty line. However, the Rules do not contain a provision for supply of information free of cost to the citizens falling under the Below Poverty Line category. The representation hence requests an intervention by the Chief Justice of the High Court, with an objective of bringing the HC Rules with the central legislation.
The Representation brings to the Chief Justice’s attention that the Department of Personnel and Training, Minister of Personnel, PG and Pension, Government of India had also requested Chief Secretaries of all State, the Registrars of all High Courts and the Registrar of the Supreme Court to harmonize their RTI Rules with the Central Legislation. The letter dated July 10, 2015 reasoned that such provisions should not become a disincentive for using the Right to Information on the basis of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission.
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