A PIO in Tamilnadu Befooling RTI Applicants


By Himadri Ghosh

The PIO of Tamil Nadu State Transport Trade Union, penalized for demanding Rs. 5000, to respond to an RTI query raised by Mr. S. Sampath.

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Back in January 2008, on behalf of the transport trade union, Mr. S. Sampath filed an RTI to the Public Information Office (PIO), Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Employees Pension Fund Trust, to furnish elementary information of retired officers since the pension scheme launched in 1998.

Rightly the PIO replied to the applicant’s query. But the response might baffle most of us; the requesting authority claimed the petitioner to remit Rs.5000 for stating the information.

For an explanation the authority said, collecting such details and compilation requires enormous administrative work for which the union have to pay the amount.

Truth to be told, the RTI Act, 2009 clearly states the applicant have to pay an application fee of Rs. 10. And for the fees for access of information, citizens needs to pay Rs. 2 per page (A4/A3) created or copied, for samples and models need to pay the actual cost of samples and Rs. 50 in case the information is furnished in the format of diskettes or floppy.

The union further made an appeal to the State Chief Information (SIC), Tamil Nadu, through e-mail on 02-03-08. To that, SCI summoned the trade union and PIO to attend the hearing on 14-10-08.

At the hearing the commissioner raised few significant questions to which the authority failed to satisfy the commission with its version. The commissioner also asked the union’s representative the need for this information and what public interest is lying on the request of information.

Union’s detail explanation appeased the commission and ordered the respondent to provide the information within 30 days at free of cost. And further recommend to the principal secretary of the transport department to take stringent action against the responsible officers.

Himadri Ghosh is a Bangalore based freelancer

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