In apparent violation of a government circular, the Indian Air Force has said it is not accepting Right To Information fee drawn in favour of the "Accounts Officer".
"No", said the Central Public Information Officer of IAF in response to an RTI application seeking to know if it is accepting RTI fee drawn in the favour of "Accounts Officer".
He also said the Air Force was in receipt of a circular dated December 5, 2008 from Department of Personnel and Training, nodal body for implementation of the act, which made it mandatory for all public authorities not to reject applications with fee drawn in favour of "Accounts Officer".
"It is intimated that the Indian Air Force received the DOPT circular number F.10/9/2008-IR dated December 5, 2008. On receipt of the letter, IAF has issued a directive/letter that the IAF will accept the processing fee in favour of Air Force Public Fund Account, Air HQ (VB) payable to New Delhi as all funds for the IAF is operated only from this account," Central Public Information Officer, Wing Commander T Sajan said in his reply.
The government has given a right to a citizen to seek information from a public authority on the payment of Rs 10 in the form of Indian Postal Order or demand draft or bankers' cheque.
After the act came into being, public authorities started rejecting the applications if the fee was not drawn in favour of officers designated by them.
In order to bring uniformity in the fee payment, the government had ordered in the year 2007 that the instruments drawn in favour of "Accounts Officer" should be accepted by all public authorities.
But when the rejection of applications continued, causing hassles to information seekers, the Centre in a stern circular warned that rejection of such applications will be treated as denial of information and liable for penal action by the CIC.
"Refusal to accept an application on the ground that the demand draft/banker's cheque/IPO submitted by the applicant has been drawn in the name of the Accounts Officer may amount to refusal to accept the application. It may result into imposition of penalty by the Central Information Commission on the concerned CPIO under section 20 of the Act," the circular dated December 5, 2008 issued by DOPT read.
The applicant had asked the IAF if it was accepting RTI fee in accordance with the circular and the action taken on the above circular. The applicant had also demanded file notings on the file.
The CPIO did not provide any file notings. When contacted, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said non-acceptance of RTI fee drawn in favour of Accounts Officer makes CPIO liable for action against him.
"In several cases notices have been issued to public authorities whenever such cases have been brought to notice of the Commission," Mishra told PTI.