Himachal exempts BPL families from Right to Information Act fees

P.S. Rana, State Chief Information Commissioner held a meeting of all the Public Information Officers (PIOs) of H.P. Secretariat, Directorate, Boards and Corporations under Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Rana said that PIOs were most important functionaries for implementation of various provisions of RTI Act, 2005. He said that applications received for information from applicant by PIOs should be disposed off in a timebound manner as specified in the Act. He said that PIOs working at headquarters should also guide PIOs working in the field and exchange their views and share experiences so that this Act could be implemented in right earnest manner.

He said that PIOs receiving applications of other PIOs or department must forward them timely to the concerned department besides informing simultaneously to the applicants about it. Referring to the rules formulated by H.P. State Government regarding fee charges under this Act, he said that applications should deposit Rs. 10 alongwith application through treasury challan or bank draft payable to concerned department or Indian Postal Order however BPL families have been exempted from the fee.

State Chief Information Commissioner said that information to all the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will be given free of cost by PIOs within the stipulated period of 30 days or as mentioned in the RTI Act provision. He said that main objective of this RTI Act was to bring transparency, accountability in the working of public servants besides giving opportunity to the general public for access to the information.

Rana underlined the need to furnish information within specified period under the Act to avoid complaints and appeals. While highlighting the salient features of Act, he said that PIOs are like quasi judicial authority and they must give reason for rejection in any case to the applicants seeking information and record it in writing besides communicating applicants wherever necessary. He further said that information could be sought by the person from any public authority i.e Secretariat, Department, Boards and Corporations including NGOs funded by the government and PIOs has no right to ask why the applicant is seeking information as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.

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