An RTI applicant was surprised on being charged the Goods and Services tax (GST) and portal fee when he filed an RTI application. The application and appeal were made to the state government’s portal. Bhaskar Prabhu, the applicant was charged Rs 5 portal fee each time he made an appeal or application and 18 per cent GST.
“It is not credit or debit card charges. They are taking GST. RTI is a right and we pay Rs 10 as application fee besides other charges, against information provided by authorities. RTI is a right and not a service,” said Prabhu.
The Ministry of Finance after introduction of GST had stated “exempt supply of services by way of providing information under RTI”.
When asked about the expenses incurred for the online transactions, Prabhu said, “They should be budgeting for it. They cannot keep recovering for everything they start. Can we expect a court to ask service charges for the orders they pass? The Centre does not charge anything like this. I will be complaining to the commission about it. One expects things to become cheaper when they go online.”
“It is something they have introduced recently. It reveals government’s negative attitude, but I do not see it as a major issue,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner.
DNA – in its October 20, 2017 publication – had reported about Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) asking an applicant to pay 18 per cent GST. The report criticised by activists except for one information commissioner stating that it should not be levied. Sumit Mullick, state chief information commissioner said, “I will have to check with GST authorities.”