RTI: Agri Department throws rules to winds

Charges Extra Fee On Account Of Xerox Copies From Applicant

UMER MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Feb 5:  Throwing the well-established norms to winds, the Agriculture Department has charged extra fee from an applicant on account of Xerox copies of the information he had sought under the Right to Information Act-2009. The violation has surfaced at a time when the state government is making tall claims on strengthening the legislation.
 Despite the rules making it clear that Rs 2 should be charged for each page, created or copied, the Public Information Officer at the Directorate of Agriculture Kashmir has charged Rs 10 per page from an information-seeker, Ghulam Rasool without assigning any reasons thereof.
 According to details, the PIO vide letter No SSO-PIO- 2012/13/145-147 dated 23-01-2013 asked the applicant to deposit Rs 1440 for 144 pages. The applicant, as per the letter, deposited the amount.
 When the applicant came to know that he has been charged extra amount, he sought its refund through a representative. But while the PIO refused to return the extra amount, he failed to send the information to the applicant to his home address as had been directed by the Agriculture Production Department, Civil Secretariat Jammu, where the application had been initially filed.  
 In blatant violation of the rules, the PIO sought ‘personal appearance’ of the application for taking the documents.
 Ideally, the applicant has to pay Rs 288 only for 144 pages as against Rs 1440.
 The applicant said it clearly shows that the PIOs are not serious in implementing the RTI Act in letter and spirit. “This will mar the essence of the important legislation,” he said, urging the Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi to take a note of the violation and act against the PIO.
 When contacted, the PIO of the Agriculture Department refused to comment on the issue. “I cannot say anything this time,” he said.
Pertinently Rule 4 (a) of the RTI Rules-2012 says that Rs two should be charged for each page (in A4 or A-3 size paper) created or copied.        

Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST




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