Despite the Central Information Commissioner's advice against it, the Delhi High Court continues to charge Rs 50 as fees for applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The regular fee for seeking information under the RTI Act at all offices under the Government of India is Rs 10.
Activist Gopal Prasad recently sought certain information from the Delhi High Court and deposited R 10 fees as he does in other offices.
He was asked by the court's assistant public information officer to deposit the remaining Rs 40.
Prasad said, "How can one agency charge amount higher than the rest? Not just government of India offices, even the Supreme Court of India charges R 10 as application fees under the RTI Act."
"The man at the counter told me that the earlier rate was Rs 500, which was later brought down to R 50 after public pressure."
As per the RTI Act, the central government, state governments and the competent authorities as defined in section 2 (e) are vested with powers to make rules — regarding appeals, fees, etc., — to carry out the provisions of the RTI Act 2005 (section 27 and section 28).
Earlier RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, too, had raised the issue.
"I have been asking for repeal of Section 27 and section 28 of the RTI Act, which are being grossly misused by several public authorities and state governments to frame their own rules. These are at times in contradiction to even provisions of RTI Act itself. The authorities should follow 'One India One Rule' for RTI Act."
Chief information commissioner AN Tiwari told Hindustan Times, "We had advised the Delhi High Court that their rules should be brought on par with the government of India rules (for RTI Act). But theoretically they are competent to charge fees whatever they want under the rules to be framed by competent authorities."
Delhi high court registrar Rakesh Kapur said, "I am not aware of this and I will have to check the exact reasons for it (charging higher rates for getting information)."