The National Campaign for People\\\’s Right to Information has expressed dismay over the decision of Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly to raise the RTI application fee by 900%, from Rs.50 to Rs.500.
Moreover, the fees per copy has been increased to Rs15 and the inspection of documents to Rs50.
Condemning the decision, NCPRI in a statement said that, a move of this nature can only be designed to discourage potential RTI users from filing applications. The net result will be to significantly and negatively affect the transparency of the legislative assembly. In particular, chances of the poor using the RTI to ask questions and take documents from the legislative assembly will be seriously compromised.
The group added that the issue of exorbitant fees being imposed by various public authorities has been raised many times and in some cases the concerned public authority has reconsidered and brought the fees in line with what has become a national norm – Rs 10 per application, Rs 2 per copy.
The NCPRI has strongly urged the Speaker of the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly to reconsider this decision and also suggested to bring down the fees from Rs50 to Rs 10.
The decision was taken recently by the state and has come under criticism considering that the Central government charges Rs 10 as application fee and Rs 2 per page for providing information.
Meanwhile, Central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has also written to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh protesting against the state legislature\\\’s decision to increase the RTI application fee to Rs500.
Gandhi said that it was "against the spirit and purpose of the RTI Act.