The recent order of the Appellate Authority (AA) of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) to limit the number of pages provided to an RTI applicant has raised questions. According to RTI applicant Vishal Mundada, order is in contravention of the RTI Act which does not set any such limits.
Mundada, a post graduate student of the University, had asked for information regarding the stationery and tea expenses of the Department of Media and Journalism. His application had asked for details, including bills, vouchers, etc, related to the issue. Instead of providing the same, the Public Information Officer (PIO) had replied that the information was scattered and provided only a tally of both the expenditures. Peeved with this reply, Mundada had gone for a first appeal under the RTI Act.
During the course of the hearing, it became evident that the institute had proper files regarding on the expenses. Also a day prior to the hearing, Mundada was allowed inspection of these files. The PIO, during disposition before the AA, said that the said department had earlier communicated that the detailed information was scattered which was duly notified to the applicant. The AA in its order said that 100 pages of the said information should be given free of charge to the applicant.
Mundada said that he had to wait for a long time before the AA’s written order was provided to him. “The RTI Act clearly mentions that photocopies of all information, irrespective of the number of pages, be given free of cost. The AA’s order has contravened this section of the Act,” he said.
He added that the he planned to appeal against the order in front of the State Information Commissioner.