Government Awareness

Good To Know : How To File A Right To Information (RTI) Plea

Pavan Manikanta Kumar

August 23rd, 2016

SHARES

The Constitution implicitly guarantees everyone the right to information. Therefore, the Indian Parliament enacted the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. This law is very comprehensive and covers almost all matters of governance. This Law has a broad reach and applies to Government at all levels- Union, State and Local. It also refers to any Organisations or NGOs which receive funds from the central or state government entities.

The underlying objective of the Right to Information Act is to:

  • empower the citizens,
  • promote transparency,
  • increase accountability in the working of the Government,
  • contain corruption, and to enhance people’s participation in democratic process.

It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to make the government more accountable. The Act is a significant step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

PART 1

What is the Right to Information Act?

1A citizen has a right to seek such information from a public authority which is held by the public authority or which is held under its control. This right includes

  • Inspection of work, documents, and records
  • Taking notes
  • Extracts or certified copies of documents or records
  • Taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority.

2According to the Act the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to any person.


3A citizen has a right to obtain information from a public authority in the form of

  • diskettes  
  • floppies
  • tapes
  • video cassettes, in any other electronic mode
  • or through printouts provided such information is already stored on a computer or in any other device.

4The Act gives the right to information only to the citizens of India. It does not make provision for giving information to

  • corporations
  • associations
  • Companies etc. which are legal entities/persons, but not citizens

5If the information is sought in the form of a photocopy; it shall be given in that form. The information shall be provided in the form as requested by the applicant, subject to the conditions in the Act. It does not mean that the PIO shall re-shape the information.


6Information Seekers can request the Public Information Officers (PIO) to cull information from some document(s) and give such extracted information to them


7The following types of information are exempted and there would be no obligation, even if the information goes beyond 20 years.

  • Information, disclosure of which would affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence;
  • Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature; or
  • Cabinet papers including
    1. records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers,
    2. Secretaries and
    3. other Officers subject to the conditions given in proviso to clause (i) of sub-section(1) of Section 8 of the Act.

8 Organizations which are exempted from the RTI act :

  • Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Ministry of Finance
  • Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Finance
  • Directorate of Enforcement, Ministry of Finance
  • Narcotics Control Bureau
  • Aviation Research Centre
  • Special Frontier Force
  • Border Security Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Central Reserve Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Central Industrial Security Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • National Security Guard, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Research & Analysis Wing of The Cabinet Secretariat
  • Assam Rifles, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Sashastra Seema Bal, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Special Protection Group
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ministry of Defence
  • Border Road Development Organisation
  • Financial Intelligence Unit, India
  • Directorate General Income Tax (Investigation)
  • National Technical Research Organisation
  • National Security Council Secretariat

These organisations are exempted under RTI Act, but cases related to corruption and Human Rights Violation are not exempted.


9Definition of different terms in RTI act.

i.  Public Authority : A “public authority” is any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by or under the Constitution; or by any other law made by the Parliament or a State Legislature; or

  • by notification issued or order made by the Central Government or a State Government.
  • The bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Central Government or a State Government are also public authorities.
  • Non-Government organisations which receive funds by the Central Government or a State Government also fall within the definition of public authority.

ii.  Public Information Officer  : Every government office has designated some of its officers as Public Information Officers. They are responsible for providing the information to the person who seeks information under the RTI Act.


iii. First Appeal : The first appeal is addressed to First Appellate Authority who is senior in rank to the CPIO/PIO in the same office. The applicant can write to First Appellate Authority if they do not receive any information from the PIO in 30 days or
they are not satisfied with the information provided by the PIO


iv. Second Appeal : The second appeal lies with the Central Information Commission. The applicant files a second appeal if s/he did not receive a satisfactory reply even after the first appeal.

PART 2

Method Of Seeking Information Under RTI - Offline

1A citizen, who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an application to the PIO of the concerned office in writing in English or Hindi or in any language of the area in which the application is made. The application should be precise and specific. The Act or the Rules do not prescribe any format of application for seeking information


2The applicant can send the application by regular post, speed post, registered post, through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the public authority.
Note:

  • It is always recommended to send through speed post or online because you will get the acknowledgement that your request has been received
  • Take receipt from the officer if you hand over the RTI application in person.

3The applicant should make payment of application fee of Rs.10 at the time of submitting the application as prescribed in the RTI Rules, 2012.

  • Application fee can be paid through Demand Draft/ Postal Order.
  • Getting a postal order of RS.10 from a nearby post office is easier and consumes less time.

Sample Postal Order.

postal-order


4The applicant should make all efforts to ascertain as to which the public authority is concerned with the information. If the officer who receives the RTI appeal doesn’t fall under the purview of the information, they should redirect the application to the concerned officer duly informing the applicant.


5Fees for getting information: Sometimes the applicant needs to pay a certain amount to get the information. The cost of various formats of getting information is given below.

  • Rs. 2 per page printed, copied or created in A4 or A3 size
  • Cost of the page or paper
  •  Rs. 50 per disc
  • Cost or actual price of sample or models requested under the RTI Act
  • Fees for inspection of records: First hour is free after which there is a fee of  Rs. 5 per hour

The information officer will send a communication to the applicant if s/he needs to pay any amount to get the information. The applicant should submit the fee in the form of a demand draft or banker’s cheque.

If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, s/he is not required to pay any fee. However, they should submit proof in support of their claim as belonging to the below poverty line category along with the application for the PIO to accept the RTI request.

Note: If the applicant feels the information should be provided free as per the rules or the amount quoted by the information officer is very high, they can ask for the calculations.

 

PART 3

Transfer Of RTI Application.

Sometimes the information we need can be under different government departments and authorities.

1If the RTI application is not concerned to the addressed Public Information Officer, the officer should send the RTI application to the concerned officer duly informing the applicant through speed post or through online, whichever is applicable.


2If only a part of the application concerns the other public authority, a copy of the application may be sent to that officer, explicitly specifying the part which relates to them.


3While transferring the application or sending a copy thereof,  the concerned public authority should be informed that the application fee has been received. The applicant should also be informed about the transfer and the particulars of the public authority to whom the application or a copy thereof has been sent.


PART 4

How Long Will It Take To Get Reply?

Information sought under the RTI 2005 will be supplied within a period of 30 days. However, it has been stated in the RTI Act 2005 guide that if the information ‘concerns the life and liberty of a person’, it will be supplied in 48 hours. Here are the details of various time limits for receiving information for your RTI application.


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Disclaimer: *This information is subject to periodic government policy/ process change. Kindly contact the concerned department to cross check for recent updates, if any.


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