Citizens' Issues
How an activist forced Arunachal govt to reduce fees for copies under RTI
Nabam Pali, a young RTI activist from Arunachal Pradesh was felicitated last week, for having sought legal intervention, compelling the state government to reduce fees to Rs2 from Rs10 for obtaining copies of documents under the Act
 
The official website of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has this announcement, declaring that it has reduced the fees for information procured under RTI from Rs10 to Rs2: 
“In the State of Arunachal Pradesh, the High Court directive has reduced the fees for information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from Rs10 per page (A4 size) to Rs2 by re-amending the RTI rules vide Government of Arunachal Pradesh Notification No.AR-47/2014 dated 13 November, 2014. The Guwahati High Court, Itanagar Permanent Bench, Naharlagun while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Pali Nabam challenging the high fee charged for obtaining information under RTI in the state, has directed the state government to reduce the fee from Rs10 per copy to Rs2.”
 
The young activist Nabam Pali, from Arunachal Pradesh, has been fighting the case since 2012. He filed a writ petition in the form of PIL. The High Court ordered the state government to address the grievance of the petitioner within three weeks of the order, the AP government notified the revision of fees.
 
Nabam Pali, like other citizens of the state, found the fees of Rs10 per page of information document too steep, particularly when, in 2012, he asked for 57,570 pages of documents pertaining to the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme, which is one of India's largest programmes for early childhood development. He was asked to pay Rs5,75,700 by the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Office of the Child Development Project, which he did pay with the help of friends.
 
As per last week’s news reports in various dailies of Arunachal Pradesh, Pali, while thanking the Arunachal RTI activist Forum (ARTIAF) for felicitating him, stated that the road was very tough for him. “When I initially started filing RTIs in 2007-08, the officers used to charge me Rs50 for an application, which was not right and I had to spend a huge amount of money as treasury challan to get the information. I somehow managed to arrange the money then but what about the poor ones who cannot afford it,” said Pali showing records of him paying Rs3.40 lakh and Rs1. 21 lakh in two instances as treasury challan to get information.
When contacted by Moneylife, Pali said, “Officers of various departments used to charge huge fees to give out information, which is unjust but they did so because they want to hide information so the poor cannot file RTIs. That was the reason I filed a PIL in a single bench High Court at Naharlagun requesting them to reduce the application fees to Rs2 from Rs10 as the charge to file an RTI in many states are very less and even free in some.”
In its order, the High Court stated, “…the petitioners have challenged the provisions of the Arunachal Pradesh Right to Information (6thamendment) Rule 2010 whereby the rate of per page intimation was increased from Rs2 to Rs10. Having regard to the objectives and reasons for which the Right to Information Act was promulgated is frustrated because of such exorbitant rate in respect of information to be provided to the applicant.” 
 
“Mr K Ete, learned Additional Advocate General, Arunachal Pradesh, upon instruction, submits that such increase has been made as per the cabinet decision dated 15 July 2010. As per his instruction, the rate was earlier fixed at Rs5 in 2005. Thereafter, it was reduced to Rs2 and now by the impugned amendment, the rate is fixed at Rs10. He submits that as per his instruction, the cabinet is desirous of revisiting the matter regarding such fixation of rate.”
 
“In view of the above submission, the PIL is disposed providing that the cabinet and for that matter the appropriate authority of the state government may consider the grievance raised in the writ petition as expeditiously as possible, preferably within three months. If the petitioners remain aggrieved by the decision to be taken by the authority, it will be open for them to pursue such legal remedy as may be available to law.”
 
Arunachal Pradesh, Department of Administrative Reforms, promptly acted upon the HC verdict and on 11 November 2014, notified that “for information in the form of communication, letter etc- Rs2 per page; for other than priced publication- Rs2 per page; For information on CD or DVD – actual price; Inspection of records – free for the 1st hour and for the subsequent each 15 minutes, Rs5.”
 
It has been a long struggle, says Pali, before his campaign was converted into action by the government.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book "To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte" with Vinita Kamte and is the author of "The Mighty Fall".)

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

10 months ago

All of us owe a debt of gratitude to this young man for tenaciously fighting for reduction of fees. The other commentator is absolutely right that though we all have benefited from this man's struggle, he still has had to pay Rs 5 lakhs+ from his own pocket.

I will be happy to send funds as will other readers if he gives us his bank details so we can transfer funds to him directly.

D S Ranga Rao

10 months ago

The Arunachal High Court's ruling reducing the fee to Rs. 2/- is no solace to Mr. Nabam Pali, as he has already lost a few lakhs of rupees for no fault of his. The court's order without proper compensation to the petitioner, by way of costs, is no justice at all. Wonder, why on earth, the Dept. of Personnel & Trg.,(DOPT), touted to be the nodal authority for the RTI Act, 2009 implementation, the Central Information Commission have remained oblivious to this 'loot' of the Arunachal state government till the High Court dragged its feet to order the state government to bring down the price? It shows that the governments are not whole-hearted in implementation of the RTI Act, 2009 in its letter and spirit.

REPLY

Vaibhav Dhoka

In Reply to D S Ranga Rao 10 months ago

True in India a litigant is always on loosing end on all sides that is mentally financially and physically.Our courts are too liberal to wave compensation on guilty.This is why forged litigation is on rise.There is no fear in mind of wrongful litigants.COURTESY Indian Judiciary.

Dahyabhai S Patel

10 months ago

The erstwhile CM of Gujart proclaimed a great administrator has kept RTI fees @Rs.20.00 while in Centre and other states it is very reasonable @Rs.10.00. And funny part is that 65% of information under RTI is not given even to a corporate company in Mumbai as per two articles in a Gujarati weekly, Chitralekha!!!!!

Dahyabhai S Patel

10 months ago

The erstwhile CM of Gujart proclaimed a great administrator has kept RTI fees @Rs.20.00 while in Centre and other states it is very reasonable @Rs.10.00. And funny part is that 65% of information under RTI is not given even to a corporate company in Mumbai as per two articles in a Gujarati weekly, Chitrlekha!!!!!

Chinese shares tumble
Beijing : Chinese stocks continued to dive on Thursday, with Shanghai dipping below the 2,900-mark again.
 
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 3.23 percent to close at 2,880.48 points. Shenzhen dropped 3.77 percent to close the day at 9,975.97 points, Xinhua news agency reported.
 
The ChiNext Index, the NASDAQ-style board of growth enterprises, dived 4.18 percent to close at 2,112.40 points.
 
The ChiNext reclaimed its role as the worst performing index after its excellent debut earlier this week.
 
Total turnover on the two bourses waned, standing at $81.76 billion. Losers outnumbered gainers by 957 to 44 in Shanghai and 1,470 to 81 in Shenzhen, the report said.
 
Chinese shares inched into positive territory after a weak session on Thursday morning. Both Shanghai and Shenzhen indexes resumed the downtrend after midday and wobbled during the whole afternoon session.
 
The losses increased near closing, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index nose-diving more than three percent.
 
The oil industry suffered, as global oil prices continued to drop. PetroChina Company Ltd. lost 2.68 percent. 
 
Sub-indices related to aviation, electricity and steel were also among the worst performers on Thursday, with losses spread over all sectors.
 
Stocks edged up in the morning session as China's central bank continued to ease liquidity strain for the financial system, following its pledge earlier this week to channel more than 600 billion yuan before the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.
 
According to the People's Bank of China (PBOC), another $60.8 billion will be injected into the financial system through reverse re-purchase operations. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Pathankot attack: NIA raids six locations in Punjab
New Delhi : The National INvestigation Agency sleuths on Thursday raided six places in Punjab's Gurdaspur and Amritsar towns as part of the ongoing probe into the January 2 terror attack at the air force base in Pathankot.
 
The places where the raids were carried out belong to suspected Punjab Police officer Salwinder Singh and his two companions who were allegedly kidnapped by terrorists hours before they mounted the attack at the air base. 
 
"Two days after the lie detector test of Salwinder Singh, we carried out raids at six locations, four in Gurdaspur and two in Amritsar," an NIA official, requesting anonymity, told IANS.
 
"The locations include the residential places of Singh, his friend Rajesh Verma and his cook Madangopal." 
 
Singh's lie detector test was conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday. 
 
Singh, at present, is posted as assistant commandant of 75th Punjab Armed Police after being shunted out as the superintendent of police (headquarters) at Gurdaspur.
 
Six Pakistani terrorists -- believed to be from the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit -- sneaked into Punjab from across the border and took the Punjab Police officer hostage before taking away his vehicle. 
 
They attacked Singh's friend and cook, but left the police officer himself unharmed and untouched, rasing suspicions about his role in the whole apisode.
 
The six terrorists later attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, killing seven security personnel.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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