Bureaucracy Today: New Delhi: Tuesday, April 04, 2017.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has invited comments from Indian citizens regarding an update on the draft rules for Right-To-Information (RTI) to be notified under the provisions of Section 27 of the RTI Act.
It has laid down nine suggestions for updating the RTI rules accordingly.
The Department recommends raising the prescribed fee to Rs 50 with a provision of providing first 20 copied pages free of cost inclusive of postal charges. It has also suggested deleting a word limit of 500 words in a petition maintaining that it contradicts the first paragraph of the RTI rules.
It also recommends including a restriction on the number of free copied pages to be provided to a person below poverty line to avoid the misuse of the provision by big contractors filing RTI petitions through casual labourers of the BPL category.
Furthermore, it suggests that the mode of payment of RTI fees to include RTI stamps - to be issued in denominations of Rs 2, 10 and 50 as per repeated CIC verdicts to abolish the enormous handling charge of postal orders costing Rs 39.99 to the postal department alone apart from clearing-operations.
Draft Rule 16 should be totally changed followed by a final hearing date for ensuring compliance of a CIC verdict after three months, it recommends adding that the post-lunch sessions on the last working day of every week can be reserved for hearings to ensure compliance of CIC verdicts. Penalty proceedings should be decided during normal hearings with necessary changes in notices for hearings, it says.
Furthermore, it suggests making it compulsory for a public authority to submit a written explanation at least 15 days in advance with a copy to a petitioner. It also recommends making it compulsory for the CIC to dispatch a hearing-notice at least 30 days before the hearing date. Presently, at times, CIC notices reach parties just on hearing dates.
It maintains that the new-rule should make it compulsory to file ID proof with every RTI petition filed with a public authority to avoid mischievous petitions filed in names of others or non-existing persons.
It recommends that persons desiring to remain anonymous can file RTI petitions through Post Box numbers.
Finally, it suggests that RTI petitions addressed to Central public authorities should be accepted post-free at all the 1,60,000 post offices in the country rather than just about 4,500 as at present.