Bhopal: An anti-corruption activist was asked to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the information he had demanded from Madhya Pradesh Housing and Infrastructure Development Board through an RTI application. The activist, Ajay Dubey, had sought information on the expenditure made for the renovation of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in Madhya Pradesh. Also Read - Goods And Services Tax is 'Biggest Madness of The 21st Century', Says Subramanian Swamy
However, before he could get the demanded information, the board asked him to CGST and SGST at 9 per cent each if he wanted the details on the expenditure. Also Read - GST Lottery Scheme Soon: Ask For Bill at Shops, Win Rs 10 Lakh-1 Crore
Dubey paid Rs 43 Rs 36 as photocopy charges for 18 pages (at the rate of Rs two per page), Rs 3.5 as CGST and Rs 3.5 as SGST, the official documents show. “It is unfair and illegal for a public authority to charge CGST and SGST for the supply of information under the RTI Act. I will appeal against this before the appropriate authority,” he told PTI. Also Read - Union Budget 2020: Government Allocates 80 Per Cent Increment to Central Information Commission
In January this year, the GST Council, led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, had recommended “to exempt supply of services by way of providing information under RTI Act, 2005 from GST”. In February, the transparency watchdog Central Information Commission (CIC) had said that public authority cannot demand a price for the information.
“Besides, giving information is not even service, being transparent is the inherent duty of public authority and Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) can only collect the cost of copying charges so that the government exchequer is not affected. Therefore, the demand of GST charges made by the CPIO is illegal and unreasonable,” the order had said.
With PTI inputs