Believe it or not, senior officers of Delhi Police have actually asked for money from an applicant seeking information under the Right to Information Act.
RTI activist JS Bhattacharjee wrote to the Delhi Police’s Public Information Officer in November seeking details of impounded vehicles that lie dumped at the scores of police stations in the capital. The PIO shot off a letter to 15 deputy commissioners of police to provide information to Bhattacharjee under the law. Three DCPs — in charge of IGI airport, East and West districts — wrote back asking Bhattacharjee to deposit almost Rs 50,000 as “fees” for getting the job done.
Their reasoning: compiling the information is a lengthy and time-consuming process. It would need several sub-inspectors, head constables and constables working on gathering the information and tabulating it over days. Each of the three DCPs, therefore, asked Bhattacharjee to pay the salaries of the officials for the number of days they would be involved in the exercise.
While DCP East Ajay Chaudhary wanted the applicant to deposit Rs 13,949 to collect the information from 13 police stations under his jurisdiction, DCP IGI Airport Naresh Kumar asked for Rs 15,198 for just three police stations under him. DCP West HGS Dhaliwal asked for a steep Rs 19,474 — he has 13 police stations under him.
Three other DCPs — Crime and Railways, Provisions and Logistics and Police Control Room — have already supplied the information to Bhattacharjee free of cost, except for photocopying charges, which is legal under the RTI Act.
The Delhi Police PRO, Rajan Bhagat, defended the three DCPs saying, “Our PIOs are following the provisions of the RTI Act. If the applicant is dissatisfied, he has the right to appeal to the higher authorities,” he said. Asked why then some of DCPs had readily parted with the information without demanding a “fee,” he said, “The response varies from officer to officer.”
RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said the response of the officers seeking fees “is completely illegal.” He added: “The salaries of the sub-inspectors or constables is already being paid by the tax-payers. Providing information under the RTI Act is an additional responsibility given to them by Parliament.”