A Delhi University college has asked an RTI applicant for Rs 80,000 to give him details of purchase of books for the library, saying the information sought was extensive and the staff would have to work extra hours to process it.
A teacher of history at College of Vocational Studies, Kumar Ram Krishna suspected irregularities in buying of books. He filed an RTI application on November 9, 2012, seeking yearly and department-wise details of purchases and also payments made to book-sellers between April 1, 2003 and November 7, 2012.
“Since the quantum of workload requires at least 10 days working of the concerned library staff, an amount of Rs 80,000 may be deposited by the applicant in the college A/C for making the payment of honorarium and conveyance charges to the staff to be engaged...,” the college’s public information officer (PIO) wrote back to Krishna.
Krishna filed another application, seeking details of the money demanded from him.
The college librarian, professional assistant and semi-professional assistant were to be paid Rs 2,000, Rs 1,820 and Rs 1,140, respectively, a day, while library assistant, senior library attendant and junior library attendant were to be paid Rs 1,120, Rs 1,050 and Rs 870 per day, respectively, the PIO wrote back.
“There is no provision for payment of honorarium to college staff working on off days,” Krishna said, adding he wrote to the principal about the irregularities in library purchases but no action was taken.
When contacted, principal Dr Inderjeet said, “This is an old matter. RTIs are handled by the PIO. You can talk to the PIO.”
The college can’t ask for Rs 80,000 from the applicant, RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak said. “It is in complete violation of an October 2009 ruling of the central information commission (CIC),” he said.
CIC had ruled that a public authority couldn’t charge anything other than the fee fixed under the RTI rules, Nayak said.
Terming the PIO’s reply as evasive and the break-up of Rs 80,000 fee as absurd and mischievous, Krishna filed an appeal on June 29. “This is an attempt to harass me and prevent me from obtaining information under RTI Act,” he said.
The PIO replied on July 2 that the demand for Rs 80,000 had been revoked but said Krishna would have to pay the fee prescribed under Section 7 of the RTI act. The officer had quoted Section 7 while asking for Rs 80,000 earlier.
An RTI query can be sent to any organisation set up or substantially funded by the government. The applicant has to pay a Rs 10 fee with the application and Rs 2 per page of information sent.