In an affidavit, the state government said its amendment to restrict RTI application 150 words was not issued to curtail freedom of express or to cause unwarranted harassment to citizens seeking information
Mumbai: The Maharashtra Government has contended before the Bombay High Court that a recent amendment in the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which restricts the contents of RTI application to 150 words and one subject only, had been introduced to streamline the procedure and did not in any way infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens, reports PTI.
The impugned amendment was not issued to curtail freedom of express or to cause unwarranted harassment to citizens seeking information as the petition has alleged, Joint Secretary, General Administration Department Rashid Gafoor Sayyed, said in an affidavit.
The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed by Shivaji Kshirsagar who challenged the amendment in RTI Act through a notification on 16th January, which imposed restriction over the words and subject of the application.
The amendment said if the applicant desired to seek information on more than one subject he should make separate applications for each subject.
Taking the affidavit on record, a bench headed by Justice DD Sinha asked the petitioner to file a rejoinder by 7th September.
The petitioner prayed for setting aside the amendment, saying it provides weapons to the public information officers to reject the application.
According to the petition, the impugned notification is against the objectives of the RTI act, principle of natural justice and violates fundamental rights. It is inconsistent with the parent act, unconstitutional and against the law.
The government affirmed in affidavit that it had been observed that mostly applications filed under RTI Act suffered from unwarranted complications. Instead of seeking information on one topic, most of these applications sought information pertaining to various departments and divisions of the State.
In such cases, the public information officer is unable to collect information from various departments in 30 days.
Therefore, it was thought fit to ensure that information on a particular subject should be sought from that concerned department instead of clubbing it together with a related topic, the affidavit said.