A committee set up by Department of Posts rejected repeated recommendations in various verdicts subsequently endorsed by Chief Information Commissioner. The latest in the row is to issue RTI stamps to replace present mode of payment of RTI-fees/copying-charges through postal-orders.
Earlier committee to consider issue of RTI stamps consisted of officers from CIC and Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), while recent committee having submitted report on 21.07.2016 consisted of officers from Department of Posts only.
“The recommendations were ignored despite confessing high cost of handling postal-orders at rupees 39.99,” said Subhash Chandra Agrawal, RTI Activist based in Delhi.
“Even stake-holders (users) should have also been included in the committee, which is even silent on mode of payment for copying charges in fractions of rupees ten with postal-orders of denominations below rupees ten now discontinued,” Agrawal added.
Committee observed heavy stock of 3960400 postal-orders of rupees ten denomination for handling about 750000 RTI petitions annually as another reason for not issuing RTI stamps, apart from accounting problems.
“Cost incurred on printing such heavy stock of postal-orders should have been saved by taking timely decision to induce some other economical and convenient mode for payment of RTI fees,” Agrawal shared with Policy Pulse.
“Even if sheets of RTI-stamps are printed in three denominations of rupees 2, 10 and 50 for about 150000 post-offices, total 450000 stamp-sheets will be initially required with a total cost of about rupees 27 lakhs at cost of rupees 6.01 per stamp-sheet,” he added.
Taking reserve-stock of two additional sets, total cost on-printing of stamp-sheets in three denominations for 450000 sheets will be rupees about rupees 81 lakhs. This will still be much less than rupees four crores presently.
Talking about the solution Agrawal said, “Department of Posts should now consider other option to issue serial-numbered RTI coupons in denominations of rupees 2, 10 and 50, with postal-orders also continued to be a mode of payment of RTI-fees/copying-charges.”