Central Govt. puts word limit on RTI pleas, defines format

The government has put a word limit of 500 words for filing an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Besides this, a new format has been devised for filing an appeal to the Central Information Commission under the transparency law.

The government has also made it mandatory for an appellant or his authorised representative to appear before the CIC either in person or through video-conferencing, according to new rules notified on July 31.

An application “shall be accompanied by a fee of rupees ten and shall ordinarily not contain more than five hundred words, excluding annexures, containing address of the Central Public Information Officer and that of the applicant,” the new rules said.

Earlier, there was no word limit in seeking information. However, the rules said that “no application shall be rejected on the ground that it contains more than five hundred words”.

According to a notification by the Department of Personnel and Training under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, an applicant will have to pay additional postal charges “involved in supply of information that exceeds fifty rupees”.

There will be no fee charged from a person below the poverty line for providing a copy of the certificate issued by the appropriate government in this regard, it said.

The RTI Act, which was enacted in 2005, covers disclosure of information on almost all matters of governance.

More documents required :

The appeal filed by an aggrieved person has to be accompanied with a copy of the application submitted to the Central Public Information Officer, a copy of reply received, if any, from the CPIO, a copy of the appeal made to the First Appellate Authority, a copy of the order received, if any, from the FAA, copies of other documents relied upon by the appellant and referred to in his appeal and an index of documents referred to in the appeal.

“An appeal may be returned to the appellant, if it is not accompanied by the documents as specified,” the rules said.

The transparency watchdog can dismiss an appeal after hearing the appellant or recording its reason in case it is not satisfactory as a fit case to proceed with.

“The Commission shall not consider an appeal unless it is satisfied that the appellant has availed of all the remedies available to him under the Act,” the notification said.

However, no appeal shall be dismissed only on the ground that it has not been made in the specified format, it said.

As per the notified rules, fee can be paid in cash or by demand draft, bankers cheque, postal order or by electronic means in case such facility is available with the public authority.

RTI activists, however, are not happy over the new rules. “It is a cruel joke on all the people,” said RTI activist (retd) Commodore Lokesh Batra.

Source: The Hindu.