New Delhi, Mar 20 (PTI) The Supreme Court today capped the fee charged by high courts for responding to queries filed under the RTI Act at Rs 50 per application, bringing cheers to activists seeking information under the transparency law.

The bench comprising Justices A K Goel, R F Nariman and U U Lait also asked the high courts not to force applicants to disclose the reason for seeking information under the Right to Information law.

The bench passed the order on a batch of petitions challenging the RTI rules of various high courts, and other authorities like the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, which imposed exorbitant fees for application and photocopying.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, the counsel for NGO Common Cause, which was one of the petitioners, said exorbitant fee was charged to disincentivise the general public from seeking information. He also said the fee should not act as a deterrent for information seekers.

The petition filed by the NGO claimed that the Central Information Commission had repeatedly asked the Allahabad High Court to modify its RTI rules, but its pleas were ignored.

The Allahabad High Court was charging Rs 500 for a reply under the RTI Act, the petition claimed.

A similar plea was filed against the Chhattisgarh High Court which had dismissed a petition of an applicant Dinesh Kumar Soni, and imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on him for seeking information.

In his petition, Soni had challenged the Rule 5 and Rule 6(1) of the Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha Secretariat Right to Information (Regulation of fees and costs) Rules 2011, which require that a person making an application under section 6(1) of the RTI Act was required to pay Rs 300.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.