Don't pay 500/- for answer sheet now- Supreme Court says if Answer sheet is asked under RTI, RTI Fees will be governedBy momita
If a candidate seeks information under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, then payment has to be sought under the RTI Rules.
The question before the Supreme Court was which Guidelines/Rules will govern the prescription of fee for copies of answer sheets and their inspection.
The Court held that while the ICSI is governed by the Companies Secretaries Act, 1980 and the Examination Committee formed under the statute prescribes a certain fee, the RTI Rules also lay down a fee structure for procurement of answer sheets. The Court held,
“In our opinion, the existence of these two avenues is not mutually exclusive and it is up to the candidate to choose either of the routes. Thus, if a candidate seeks information under the provisions of the Right to Information, then payment has to be sought under the Rules therein, however, if the information is sought under the Guidelines of the appellant, then the appellant is at liberty to charge the candidates as per its guidelines.”
The decision was rendered by a Bench of Justices NV Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer, which made it clear that if there are other avenues to procure answer sheets, the applicant can choose which one to route her request through.
The RTI Rules entitle a student to seek inspection and certified copies of their answer scripts. When this right is exercised, Rule 4 will govern the levy of the required charges. This Rule stipulates a fee of Rs. 2 for each page of the answer script. For inspection, no fee is prescribed for the first hour. For every subsequent hour of inspection, the fee is Rs. 5 per hour.
The order came in an appeal filed by the Institute of Companies Secretaries of India (ICSI) against a decision of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court.
The respondent, Advocate Paras Jain, had sought from ICSI certified copies of answer sheets and their inspection under RTI. He was charged a fee for the same as per Guideline No. 3 notified by the Statutory Council of the ICSI. As per the ICSI Guidelines, the fee for the supply of certified copies was Rs. 500 per answer sheet, and the charge for inspection was Rs. 450 per answer book.
Download the decision here.15222_2014_Order_11-Apr-2019.pdf
As per Section 5(3), the proviso to section 6(1), section 7(4) the designated authorities, INCLUDING INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS, are required to assist the information seeker.
The commission is। is also required to provide this assistance to appellant as per Para 10 of its judgement in WP(C)-7295 OF 2017 is under a statutory obligation to provide all reasonable assistance to the information seeker. Even a layman or an illiterate person may seek information as he has the constitutional right under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution of India as well as under RTI ACT. This is a very formidable tool to deal with the defying information Commissions across the country.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI
W.P. (C) No. 7295 of 2017
PARA 10. The provision of Section 6(1) specifically provides that the Public Information Officer has to render all possible assistance to the information seeker. The intention of the legislature is quite clear in this regard. Though in Section6, the word “Central Public Information Officer “or the “State Public Information Officer “has been used, however, the same is applicable to the appellate authorities also as it is a settled law that an appeal is the continuation of the original proceeding. Thus, the State Information Commission being the second appellate authority is under statutory obligation to provide all reasonable assistance to the information seeker. Even a lay man or an illiterate person may seek information as he has the constitutional right under Article 19(1)(a)of the Constitution of India as well as the statutory right under the Act, 2005 and if a person who seeks information under the Act, 2005is debarred from appearing in-person before the statutory authorities, the same will defeat the very purpose of the legislation.
Debarring - Jharkahnd HC - Debarring information seeker illegal.pdf