RTI Fees-Information sought u/RTI to be Charged as per RTI Rules only- Supreme Court

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April 24, 2019

Case name: Institute Of Companies Secretaries Of India v. Paras Jain

The Appellant Institute in the case has assailed Delhi High Court’s order, whereby the High Court set aside Guideline No.3 notified by the statutory council of appellant–Institute and directed it to charge fee to the Respondent as prescribed under Rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005.

Admittedly, the Appellant in the case had charged fees to the respondent for inspection of his answer sheets under the Right to Information Act, 2005 in accordance with Guideline No. 3 framed by it’s statutory council which provided for Rs.500/­ per answer sheet.

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court succinctly observed in the case that an information sought under the Right to Information Act, 2005 will be sought as per the RTI Rules prescribed therein only. Other observations made by the Supreme Court in the case are as under:

That the avenue for seeking certified copies as well as inspection is provided both in the Right to Information Act as well as the statutory guidelines of the appellant. That the guidelines of the appellant, framed by its statutory council, are to govern the modalities of its day­to­day concerns and to effectuate smooth functioning of its responsibilities under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980. The guidelines of the appellant may provide for much more than what is provided under the Right to Information Act, such as re­evaluation, re­totaling of answer scripts. However, Guideline no.3 of the appellant does not take away from Rule 4, The Right to Information (Regulation of Fees and Cost) Rules, 2005 which also entitles the candidates to seek inspection and certified copies of their answer scripts.

That 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 entire case can be accessed here.

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