The Thane Regional Transport Office (RTO) has asked an RTI applicant to shell out Rs55 lakh for getting information.
Anil Mahadik, a local resident, had sought information on the number of auto-rickshaws registered with them along with the registration numbers, and name and address of the auto-rickshaw owners.
He had also sought details of the permit given to the auto-rickshaw owners along with their names and permit number unders the Thane RTO jurisdiction.
“The reason I sought this detail is that there are times when auto-rickshaws are not willing to drop us. I wanted to know if the owners of the autos and those having permit are the same or they are sold to other people. I feel that people who do not need autos, they buy permits and sell them.
That is the reason why people are suffering. I wanted to match the details,” claimed Mahadik.
In response, the public information officer (PIO) informed him that since there were 73,993 autos registered and 36,887 permit holders, Mahadik will have to give Rs50 for each person’s information as per the Motor Vehicle Rules. Not satisfied, Mahadik went in for first appeal. The first appellate authority upheld the order of the PIO and asked Mahadik to pay the same amount for information.
“We asked them to provide the information in a CD format thinking that it will be easier and will cost less. But they said each entry will be charged Rs50 and we will have to pay Rs55 lakh.
Ideally, this information should be on their website,” said Rajiv Datta, Mahadik’s friend who appeared for him during the first appeal.
As per the RTI Act, which supersedes all other previous Acts, information has to be given at the rate of Rs2 per page. If information is sought in a CD, as per RTI rules it should be given at Rs50 per CD. The RTI Act allows each authority to form rules in consonance with the RTI Act and its spirit.
“Giving information in a CD does not mean they have to charge Rs50 per name or only one name has to be entered in a CD,” said Bhaskar Prabhu.
“In my opinion, it is wrong. The RTI Act supersedes all acts and rules,” said Shilesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner. When contacted, the first appellate authority was not available for comment.