Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up

Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

RTI Amendment in Bihar - Change from Rs. 10 for multiple queries to Rs. 10 per query

A lot of people have recently raised queries and challenged the change introduced in RTI by the Bihar government where the Bihar government has amended the RTI act so that a person will now have to pay Rs. 10 for each query asked instead of Rs. 10 for all queries asked.

A lot of social activists and politicians are opposing this amendment. Politicians claim that this is anti-poor and that it is aimed at stopping the poor from using the act. However I am really surprised by this position of many politicians. I would like to know how many poor people really use the RTI. The poor, toil day in and day out to earn their daily bread, where would they have the time to invoke information under the RTI act. I am guessing that majority of them don't even know that something like RTI exists.

For people who can think of using the RTI act, the change in the fee structure is hardly going to impact anyone. If I think from the government's perspective, they are only trying to make people use RTI sensibly. It is very likely that some people ask a few more questions than they really wanted to ask just because they don't have to pay anything extra. This obviously puts an extra toll on the RTI mechanism delaying the RTI responses to some of the other people. For example, there were 50,000 RTI queries made in 2007-08. Assuming 5 queries per person there would have been 2,50,000 queries. Even if I assume that 2% of the queries were asked just as an add-on to some other queries being made, it would mean that 5000 additional queries were made, unnecessary, thus delaying responses to some of the other people.

I think people should stop raising uncessary issues and concentrate on more important issues. A request to such people: Please stop diverting the government's valuable time away from developmental activities.

More information about the RTI ammendment and opposition can be got from the article "RTI activists to challenge amendment to RTI in Bihar"

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