The Punjab and Haryana high court has amended its Right to Information (RTI) rules, framed in 2007, making them more people-friendly. These are also applicable for subordinate courts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
As per the changed RTI rules, an RTI applicant can pay the fee in cash which was not allowed earlier. The application can now be submitted on plain paper and cannot be rejected on the ground that it was not made in Form A. The application fee has also been reduced from Rs. 50 per application to Rs. 10 and per page cost of the information has been reduced from Rs. 5 per page to RS 2. The information compact disc (CD) will now cost Rs. 25 per CD instead of Rs. 100. RTI applications can now be submitted during working hours on any working day. Whereas, as per earlier rules applications were accepted only 2 hours in a day (11 am to 1 pm). Information regarding tenders/bids/quotation will be given at Rs. 100 per application, instead of Rs. 500 and fee of Rs. 100 for first appeal has also been removed.
If a matter did not fall into his/her jurisdiction, the public information officer (PIO) could return the RTI application to the applicant earlier, and the fees paid was to be forfeited. But now this provision has been removed and now the PIO will be duty-bound-to forward the application as well as the fees to the appropriate public authority within five days.
The development has taken place after the HC treated a public interest litigation filed by advocate Arjun Sheoran last year as representation before its rules committee. The petitioner had challenged the HC rules on the ground that those were against the letter and spirit of RTI Act.