Mumbai-based RTI activist Manoranjan Roy seeking information from IRCTC related to railway tickets booked online, offline, GST/Service Tax collected and passengers who cancelled the tickets in the last 8 years has been asked to pay for the salary of staff required to collect the required data.
In a shocking order the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) demanded the cost of the manpower for fecthing the data of 96 months (8 years) from the system to be borne by the RTI applicant.
“The data of tickets and passengers from CRIS as well as from IRCTC has a huge mismatch. When a ticket is cancelled, the GST levied on it has to be refunded which the Indian Railways wants to hide so IRCTC does't want to reveal the information,” alleged Manoranjan for resorting to various tricks and delaying tactics to deny information under RTI, Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) has passed the strange order.
While the Indian Railways provided the data for information about the tickets booked and passengers travelled but failed to share data about the numbers of passengers who cancelled their tickets citing the "voluminous" data would take 72 hours to fetch. Manoranjan Roy knocked on the doors of the First Appellate Authority against the Indian Railways order to bear the cost of manpower for collecting data demanded under RTI.
When the determined RTI activist persisted and again sought the desired information, Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) asked him to pay Rs 13,500 as salary as the details of canceled tickets month wise data is huge task. “IRCTC cited the reason as it will put heavy load on the system and additional manpower will be required to fetch the data,” said Roy.
While passing passing the order, First Appellate Authority Sandip Trivedi (Group General Manager/HRD) noted, "System is taking about 45 minutes to fetch the data for a month. As you have asked for month-wise data of 8 years, the system will take about 72 working hours to fetch this data. As the month-wise data is not readily available and extra manpower to be utilised to fetch the data, therefore, if required, the cost of manpower may be borne by you."
Exasperated by the lame excuses by the CPIO, Manoranjan Roy decided to file a second appeal seeking information under RTI. "In what head they will show the money if I am ready to pay it. Will the salary be deducted from the account of the man, who will fetch the data, questioned Roy adding that the order of the Appellate Authority has violated the sections 20(1), 20(2) of the RTI Act 2005.
Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi termed the order as absurd and said that such a reply to RTI is absolutely wrong. "RTI activists should appeal against it. But the appeals are heard snail's pace and very little ray of hope to get justice," Gandhi reacted.