The Panjab University (PU) in Chandigarh has demanded over Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million) from a law student for giving information under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The varsity says the reply would run into 600,000 pages.
Varun Malik, who is pursuing LLM (Master of Laws) from PU, had on August 10 asked for answers to 19 questions under the RTI Act. The university provided him the information on September 9. Not satisfied with the reply, he demanded more detailed information.
In the latest communication from the PU, Malik has been asked to deposit Rs 1,222,000, as the university’s reply would take over 600,000 pages.
“They told me that I am required to pay Rs 2 for every photocopied page. I agreed to it but I did not have any idea that their reply would take lakhs of pages,” Malik told IANS in Chandigarh on Sunday.
In his questionnaire, Malik had asked about the amount collected from all hostellers as late night entry fees and where this amount was spent in the last five years. He had also asked about the details of accommodation fees charged from hostellers.
Malik had also asked about money collected from hostel residents in welfare funds and the amount spent on hostels maintenance in the last five years.
“All of us want transparency in the PU administration and functioning. I am sure that once this information is out in the public it will unearth a series of frauds,” Malik said.
“Such attitude of PU authorities will certainly discourage students and other people from seeking information under RTI Act. It is really strange and beyond my understanding that how can it take more than six lakh pages while giving answers to simple questions,” he said.
Now the PU authorities are pressurising Malik to submit the amount as they claim that they have already photocopied the replies.
However, PU authorities say they are only following the set procedure.
“We have not asked about any illegitimate amount as we are just following the legal procedure. We are ready to give any information sought under RTI Act. Our RTI department is very responsible,” Surinder Sharma, PU spokesperson, said.
There are 14 hostels, seven each for boys and girls, in the PU campus. Over 4,000 students stay in these hostels.