Why can’t we use postal stamps for RTI applications?
The DoPT has invited suggestions from citizens before 7th February to develop a full proof system for using postal stamps as fees for RTI applications. This follows several suggestions and verdicts from the CIC
 
As users of Right to Information (RTI) Act would know, different states have different norms for paying the mandated fees. For example, the Rs10 court fee stamp that is accepted by Maharashtra is not accepted elsewhere. In some States, you are compelled to use the Indian Postal Order (IPO) or Demand Draft (DD) mode for paying the RTI application fees. As activists have analysed, each IPO costs the government over Rs35 and a DD for Rs10 also cost about the same.
 
Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had approached the CIC in 2013 to make it easier for people to file RTI for any kind of application be it the first application or first or second appeal. The Central Information Commission (CIC) in its recommendations to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) stated that fees should be accepted in the form of IPO, DD, cheque and cash against receipt. In addition, for online applications, the RTI applicant could use debit or credit card for payment. The CIC had also recommended that the Department of Posts should issue special RTI stamps on the line of postal stamps.
 
The Department of Posts expressed its inability to print exclusive RTI stamps. Subsequently, this department recommended “use of definitive series of postal stamps which are ubiquitously available in the post offices across the country in different denominations.” However, this meant amendment in RTI rules. This meant that they can be considered only when RTI rules are amended and that could be for any period of time.
 
The CIC in its decision of 12 December 2014 again recommended to DoPT “to adopt the proposal of the Department of Posts of use of ordinary postal stamps for payment of the RTI fee”. However, once again the DoPT has pointed out that “use of ordinary postal stamps for the purpose of RTI may lead to accounting problem, as it would not be possible to account the amount collected for RTI through ordinary stamps. Section 25 (3) of the RTI Act lays down that each public authority is required to communicate to CIC/SIC as the case may be, the amount of charges collected under this Act for incorporation in their Annual Report; there is an apprehension of misuse of ordinary stamps for the purpose of RTI in the absence of specific procedures and; whether postal stamps may be considered for initial RTI fees only or for payment of additional fees also.’’
 
RTI activist Subhashchandra Agrawal counters excuses of DoPT:
  1. Amending RTI-rules 2012 for incorporating use of postal-stamps as RTI-fees including additional fees should not be difficult because it does not require any legislative process.
  2. Misuse of any apprehension of postal-stamps used for RTI-fees including additional fees is baseless because it will be responsibility of respective public-authorities to cancel postal-stamps used as RTI-fees including additional fees through their rubber-seals.
  3. Postal-stamps are to be used for all types of RTI-fees including additional fees.
  4. Use of postal-stamps towards RTI-fees including additional fees will save huge amount of funds because of very high handling cost of postal-orders. Even a postal-order worth rupees ten cost rupees 37.45 as per statistics available for fiscal year 2011-12 which must have been increased much more by now. Therefore all revenue coming from postal-stamps being used as RTI-fees including additional fees even if going to earning of postal-department will ultimately be credited in public-exchequer. Public-authorities can communicate CIC/SCI about RTI-fees including additional fees collected by them as required under section 25(3)(e) of RTI Act through compiling of information on amount received as RTI-fees including additional fees from postal-stamps cancelled by them.
The committee, which has been formed to clear all hurdles for use of postage stamps as RTI fees has now decided to invite suggestions and views from citizens. The committee has appealed: “the views and suggestions preferably not exceeding one page may be sent by 7th February 2015 through email only to RK Girdhar, Under Secretary (RTI), North Block at [email protected].’
 
So, do hurry up if you have any suggestions to make use of postage stamps as RTI fees without problems.
 
 

The CIC had made the following recommendations on several other counts that would help the RTI user to file his or her application, easily:

• All public authorities shall accept demand draft or banker cheque or IPOs payable to their Account Officers and no instrument shall be returned


• All public authorities shall accept IPOs of the denomination of higher values vis a vis the fee/copying charges and the excess amount or fees may not be returned

 

• CPIOs and APIOs under their command to accept application fee and copying charges in cash from the information seeker

 

• DoP&T shall direct CPIOs/APIOs/Accounts Officers to accept money orders towards the deposition of fee/copying charges

 

• The Department of Posts has issued a detailed circulars…...dated 12.10.2007 which prescribes display `RTI APPLICATIONS ARE ACCEPTED HERE' and in addition to display names/addresses of the CPIO and appropriate authorities

 

• The commission advises the secretary, Department of Posts to consider designating all 25,464 Departmental post offices to accept RTI applications and the requisite fee instead of 4700 post offices

 

• To issue RTI stamps of the denomination of Rs10 by Department of Posts. It would be a time and cost effective step. The commission would urge Department of Posts/DOP&T to consider the viability of the suggestion with utmost dispatch

 

• The commission also directed CPIOs and the Appellate Authorities to mention names, designation and fax number of the RTI related correspondence

 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and 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”.)
 
Comments
Kumari Puja
5 years ago
This is very nice initiative to accept Postal Stamps for paying RTI Fees because Postal Stamps are easily accessible at post offices.

To make Indian Postal Order (IPO) easily available to the citizen, Government of India has already introduced online facility to buy e-IPO for RTI. To know the step by step procedure to get e-IPO, you may visit following link:
http://www.esbyme.org/#!how-to-get-indian-postal-order-online/i2pfy

To understand various procedures involved in RTI You may visit below website:
http://www.esbyme.org/

Thanking You
Kumari Puja
Replied to Kumari Puja comment 5 years ago
To know more about RTI Act, 2005, you may visit http://rtiact2005.com/.
MOHAN SIROYA
7 years ago
Good analogy. More or less, on the same lines, on behalf of Consumer Complaints Cell, I have sent the comments, extract of which is reproduced:

Consumer Complaints Cell, is an NGO ,working in the field of Guidance and Awareness of
all Consumers since last 26 years. To make the mode of payment and fee under the RTI Act , more citizen friendly and hassle free steps are required to meet the ends of Act intent.
1. First and foremost, need is to take the power of making rules under the ACT uniformly applicable to all the States and Union Territories In India. Presently, there is a plethora of different modes
Of payment like Cash, Money Order , Postal Order , Court Fee Stamp, Bank DD or Pay Order etc.and differs from State to State . This entails an avoidable waste of time , use of paper/ stationary and extra cost by way of commissions for service sought and or personal visits to procure. To top it , often the required quantity or denomination of either Postal Orders or Court fee stamps
are not available. Many times, one has to purchase two seven rupee denomination of Postal Order for paying a fee of Rs. Ten. Such waste of money and hassle can be avoided for information seekers by making the following rules :
i) An Uniform payment system all over India by using the Postal stamps has to be
ntroduced, abolishing all other existing modes, for all types of payment and fee to be paid for seeking an information right from PIO/CPIO level to the First or Second Appellate levels. Postal Authority should print ,if not already existing ,the stamps in
denomination of Rs. 10 and Rs.20 in adequate quantity. To take care of the accounting
and income reporting requirement under RTI, the PIO/CPIO should immediately cancelsuch stamps on receipt and deposit in a “Special RTI Account”, which may be created in each Govt. or Public establishment where RTI Act is applicable
ii)Simultaneously, to take care of Ecology and cost factor, ONLINE payment thru’ NEFT be introduced ,whether an application is made ONLINE or in Physical form. To make this
method easy , each Government ,Public Establishment must transparently make public
thru’ electronic or other media the Bank account details with IFSC code etc. to enable
transfer of E payment .

Mohan Siroya
Chairperson --- Consumer Complaints Cell ,Mumbai




manhar kothari
7 years ago
The use of postal stamp is a good Idea however misuse of the same can not be ruled out. Exclusive RTI stamp may not be economical viable suggestion.
Even if postal order whose cost is Rs.37.45 is not used for RTI fee than post office is not going to stop printing of postal order.
Iam of the opinion till RTI applicants increases substantially existing system of making payment be continued.
One more addition for paying fees be started i.e transfer of amount online through Bank.
Arshad Ali
7 years ago
A good step towards making RTI accessible to every citizen by bringing postal stamp especially for filing RTI .

For RTI filling you can log on to FileRTIonline.

https://http://www.filertionline.in
P M Ravindran
7 years ago
I had posted the following suggestions to DoPT:

1. Refer your Circular No No.1/3/2014-IR dated 14 Jan 2015.

2. Postal stamps are NOT recommended for paying rti fees and cost. There would not only be misuse but also serious confrontations between the public, who want rti implemented effectively, and public servants who want to bury it as if it never existed!

3. Given the plethora of stamps being brought out by dept of posts it should not be any problem at all to bring out special rti stamps. It is suggested that such stamps blend the features of stamps with the features of postal orders. That is to say these stamps should have provision to fill up the name of the applicant, the name of the public authority and date.

4. A better suggestion is to permit the use of money orders because it is after all paying in cash, permitted as per existing rules, through a third person!

5. It is fervently hoped that the best suggestions will be accepted for implementation. The history of DoPT handling RTI matters leave much to be desired and one can't avoid being a skeptic!
john menezes
7 years ago
Rs.10 Court Fee stamps should be available at all post offices and usable for all RTI applications to central and state organizations for which the Rules should be suitably amended.
John Menezes
Dayananda Kamath k
Replied to john menezes comment 7 years ago
They have stopped selling revenue stamp in post office and you are talking about court fee stamp. the money should reach the pio and a track can be established. the purpose of advocating fees is this as well as to avoid frivolous queries. So any method whether postal order,money order, cheque, dd should be ok. the best way is to avoid the fees itself. RTI became necessary because information was not forthcoming. they could have achieved it by changing the rules than passing the Act. now it has given one more avenue to avoid information based on interpretation of rules and red tape. Under RTI you have right to information not the right information. this is my experience. Even the Karnatka highcourt replied to my rti quiry of action taken on the complaint of misusing legal process to delay and deny justice is 'filed'. and technically they are right.
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