Right to Information – Master key to good governance

BSNL rapped for seeking fee for information

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 25, 2006

BSNL rapped for seeking fee for information  http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060626/nation.htm#4

New Delhi, June 26
The Central Information Commission has issued a show cause notice to a BSNL officer for demanding a fee of Rs 9,810 from an applicant to provide certain basic information sought by the latter under the Right To Information Act (RTI).

The Commission directed the official to forthwith provide the information sought by the applicant and explain within 15 days as to why a penalty should not be imposed upon him under Section 20 of the Act which envisages imposition of penalty on any public authority who fails to divulge information sought by the public in the matters which are under public domain.

Applicant Kailash Mishra had on June 17 sought information from the BSNL Bhopal Circle about the projects completed by its Switching and Installation Wing.

The BSNL wrote back asking him to deposit Rs 9,810 which included Rs 9,732 for the man hours “required” to collect the information sought.

Mishra filed an appeal with the BSNL’s appellate authority who too insisted that the applicant deposit the amount to secure the information sought, following which he approached the Commission.

Agreeing with the applicant, the Commission comprising information Commissioners— M.M. Ansari and O.P. Kejariwal— observed that the action of the department “was only a subterfuge for avoiding supply of information to the appellant.”

The Commission noted that since all the information sought by the applicant was available at a single place in the Bhopal circle, there was no reason for deployment of extra manpower for supplying the information.

It also regretted that the BSNL had not responded to the appellant’s request for providing details of computation whereby the department had arrived at the above figure.

“Calculating and demanding the fee from the applicant showed an utter disregard for the letter and spirit of the Act and was obviously a malafide attempt on the part of the CPIO, BSNL for denial of information,” the Commission observed while asking the BSNL official to file his reply and posted the matter for further hearing to July 11. — PTI


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