Special Correspondent

CHANDIGARH: Taking a tough stand against the fee increase effected by the Chandigarh Administration on Right to Information (RTI) applications and document copies, civil right activists on Friday challenged the Administration and vowed to fight “high-handedness of a corrupt bureaucracy”.

They asserted that the Chandigarh Administration should forget about Rs.50 as RTI fee.

“We will now not even pay Rs.10 and still obtain all the official documents.”

They said they proposed to obtain information under Section 76 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which “provides for obtaining a certified copy of any public document without payment of any application fee”.

“Only 65 paise is payable for every certified copy so obtained. On not furnishing of the public document, legal action lies directly against the head of the public authority under whose control the said public document is available,” they added.

Calling it a direct fight between a “corrupt bureaucracy versus the common man”, social activist Hemant Goswami said it was highly deplorable that the bureaucracy was trying to stifle the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and also defeat the intended objectives of the RTI Act.

Asking the Administration to introspect, he said the Public Record Act came in 1993 and required proper management of records but even after 15 years, the Union Territory of Chandigarh was still not following the provisions. He alleged that even the Administrator of Chandigarh (the Punjab Governor) had “blatantly refused” to follow the RTI Act. The UT Administration had also failed to fulfil its obligations under Section 26 of the RTI Act even after nearly three years of the enactment of the Act, he added.

The social activists declared that their priorities were clear and the “party for the corrupt bureaucrats in Chandigarh is over”.