Civil society organisations have criticised the ‘Schedule of Fees for Hard Copies’, notified by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission saying that the commission has shifted the burden of postal costs from public bodies to citizens if the requested information is more than 20 pages.
According to notification issued by KP Information Commission on December 19, 2014 if the requested information is more than 20 pages, a citizen will have to pay Rs 5 for each extra page and Rs 8 if the page is printed on both sides.
“The costs introduced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission are in violation of Section 3 (3)(b) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 which says that the citizens will be charged ‘lowest reasonable’ cost for getting access to information held by public bodies,” says a statement issued by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), Islamabad.
First 20 pages are to be provided for free by the public bodies according to the Schedule of Costs introduced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab information commissions.
According to CPDI, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission has introduced higher rates for per extra page of the information and shifted the burden of postal cost on citizens, Punjab Information Commission has facilitated citizens by asking public bodies to charge only Rs 2 for any extra page. Furthermore, Punjab Information Commission does not shift the burden of postal costs on the citizens. It should be noted that in some right to information laws of the world, vulnerable groups and people living below the poverty line are not charged any fee for requesting copies of records held by public bodies.
“Excessive fees for getting access to hard copies of the information held by public bodies and the postal costs will kill Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013. CPDI urges KP Information Commission to review its ‘Schedule of Fee for Hard Copies’ in light of Section 3 (3) (b) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and ensure that citizens have to pay only the lowest reasonable cost for getting access to information held by public bodies,” says the statement.