Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday sought Maharashtra government's reply on a public interest litigation challenging the recent insertion of a rule under the Right to Information Act.

The petition filed by advocate Shivaji Kshirsagar has challenged the insertion of rule 3 A, which was incorporated through a notification dated January 16, 2012. The rule states that a person seeking information under section 6 of the act shall limit the same to one subject matter, which shall not "ordinarily" exceed 150 words.

If the applicant seeks information on more than one subject matter, they will have to make separate applications, the rule states. The rule further directs the public information officer to deal only with the first subject matter in the event of queries on multiple subjects.

Kshirsagar argued that such a rule would deprive the citizens from seeking information within time and reasonable costs. Moreover, the requirement of "one subject matter" is not properly defined and hence, vague, the petition states.

A division bench, headed by Justice DD Sinha asked the government the logic behind inclusion of such a rule.

"This is a sensitive act and such matters are very important in larger public interest," the court said directing the government to file its reply within six weeks.

The petition states that the amendment to the rules would cause harassment to the citizen seeking information as it gives the public information officer discretionary powers which might be used against the applicant to deny information.

Kshirsagar also pointed out that there will be difference in length when it comes to seeking information in English or other regional languages.

(Agencies)

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