Right to Information (RTI) is a revolutionary act which empowers citizen of India to question the government. Let us try to understand the basics of RTI through obvious questions and answers which comes to anyone’s mind.
1. What is RTI?
RTI stands for “Right to Information”. Right to Information is a fundamental right that every citizen has! Basically, the RTI gives you all the information that you want about the Govt. and what they are doing with your tax money! You have the right to ask our Government, why the roads outside your house are not fixed? Why is there so much garbage in your area that is not picked up etc.
2. When did it come into force?
It comes into force on the 12th October, 2005 (120th day of its enactment on 15th June, 2005). Some provisions have come into force with immediate effect viz. obligations of public authorities [S.4(1)], designation of Public Information Officers and Assistant Public Information Officers[S.5(1) and 5(2)], constitution of Central Information Commission (S.12 and 13), constitution of State Information Commission (S.15 and 16), non-applicability of the Act to Intelligence and Security Organizations (S.24) and power to make rules to carry out the provisions of the Act (S.27 and 28).
3. Who is covered under RTI?
The Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
4. Who will give me the information I am looking for?
One or more officers in every Government Department have been made “Public Information Officers” (PIO). If you want some information, you need to file an application with the PIO. The PIO’s are responsible for collecting information wanted by you and providing that information to you. Also, several officers have been appointed as Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs). Their job is only to accept applications from the public and forward it to the right PIO.
5. What does information mean?
Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force but does not include “file notings”.
6. What are my rights to seek information?
It includes the right to:
• Inspect works, documents, records.
• Take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records.
• Take certified samples of material.
• Obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts.
7. Who is excluded under RTI?
An act does not apply to certain organisations viz. Central Intelligence agencies and security agencies like the IB, RAW, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, CID Special Branch of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, CID Crime Branch of Dadra Nagar Haveli and Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police. Recently the Government have included CBI, NATGRID and NIA in the second schedule of RTI Act. However, information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section.
8. What is the application procedure for requesting information?
• Apply in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area, to the PIO, specifying the particulars of the information sought for.
• Reason for seeking information is not required to be given;
• Pay fees as may be prescribed (if not belonging to the below poverty line category).
9. Is there any online application procedure?
Now it is possible to apply for RTI online. You can visit https://rtionline.gov.in/ and apply online paying the fee and filling the application online.
10. Is there any fee? How do I deposit that?
Yes, there is an “application fee”. For Central Government Departments, it is Rs.10. However, different states have different fees.
For getting information, you have to pay Rs.2 per page of information provided for Central Government Departments. It is different for different states. Similarly, there is a fee for inspection of documents. There is no fee for first hour of inspection, but after that, you have to pay Rs.5 for every hour or inspection. This is according to Central Rules. For each state, you need to see respective state rules.
You can deposit fee in cash or through a DD or Banker’s Cheque or postal order. You can then deposit your application either by post or by hand.
11. What is the time limit to get the information?
|For matters involving “Life and Liberty”||Within 48 Hours from receipt of application.|
|For Public Information Officer to reply to application||30 days from the date of receipt of application|
|For Public Information Officer to transfer to another PA under Sec 6(3)||5 days from the date of receipt of application|
|For Public Information Officer to issue a notice to 3rd Party||5 days from the date of receipt of application|
|For 3rd Party to make a representation to Public Information Officer||10 days from receipt of notice from Public Information Officer|
|For Public Information Officer to reply to the application if 3rd Party involved||40 days from the date of receipt of application|
|For an applicant to make First Appeal||30 days from the date of receipt of Public Information Officer’s reply or from the date when a reply was to be received|
|For First Appellate Authority to pass an order||30 days from receipt of the First Appeal OR Maximum 45 days, if reasons for the delay are given in writing|
|For an applicant to make the Second Appeal before CIC / State Information Commission||90 days from receipt of First Appeal orders or from the date when orders were to be received|
|For CIC / State Information Commission to decide Second Appeal||No time limit specified|
12. How does one who cannot write apply?
In case one cannot make a request in writing, the PIO is supposed to render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.
13. How can one who is deaf/blind apply?
Where the applicant is deaf, blind, or otherwise impaired, the public authority is supposed to provide assistance to enable access to the information, including providing such assistance as may be appropriate for the inspection.
14. Is there an “application form” to be filled?
For Central Government Departments, there is no form. You should apply on a plain sheet of paper like an ordinary application. However, many states and some ministries and departments have prescribed formats. You should apply in these formats. Please read rules of your respective state.
15. How can I send my application fee?
Every state has a different mode of payment for an application fee. Generally, you can deposit your application fee via:
• In person by paying cash [remember to take your receipt]
• Demand Draft
• Indian Postal Order
• Money orders (only in some states)
• Affixing Court fee Stamp (only in some states)
• Banker’s cheque
Some state governments have some “head of account”. You are required to deposit fee in that account. For that, you can either go to any branch of SBI and deposit cash in that account and attach deposit receipt with your RTI application. Or you can also send a postal order or a DD drawn in favor of that account along with your RTI application. Please see respective state rules.
16. Where do I submit the application for information?
You can do that with the PIO or with APIO of the Government department you are questioning. In the case of all Central Government Departments, certain “post offices” have been designated as APIOs. This means that you can go to any of these post offices and submit your fee and application at the RTI counters in these post offices.
They will issue you a receipt and acknowledgement and it is then the responsibility of that post office to deliver it to the right PIO. The list of these post offices is in the following link- http://www.indiapost.gov.in/rtimanual16a.html
17. Where can I find the concerned PIO?
A list of PIOs/APIOs for all Central and State departments/Ministries is available online at www.rti.gov.in
18. What if the PIO is not available?
In case the PIO is not available you can submit your application with the Assistant PIO or any other officer designated to accept the RTI applications.
19. What if I cannot locate my PIO or APIO?
In case you have problems locating your PIO/APIO you can address your RTI application to the “PIO C/o Head of Department” and send it to the concerned department with the requisite application fee. The Head of Department will have to forward your application to the concerned PIO.
20. What could be the ground for rejection?
• If it is covered by exemption from disclosure.
• If it infringes copyright of any person other than the State.
21. Do I have to give reasons why I want a particular information?
Absolutely not! You are not required to give any reasons or additional information other than your contact details (i.e., Name, Address, and Phone No.)
22. Can the PIO refuse to accept my RTI application?
No. The PIO cannot refuse to accept your application for information under “any circumstances”. Even if the information does not pertain to his/her department/jurisdiction, she/he has to accept it. If the application does not pertain to that PIO, he would have to transfer it to the right PIO within 5 days.
23. What should I do if the PIO does not accept my application?
You can send it by post. Once you send it along with the fee, your job is done.
You should also make a formal complaint to the respective “Information Commission”. If the PIO refuse to accept your RTI application, then send it by registered post after writing a note in the application that since PIO refused to accept my this application on a such and such date, I am sending this through registered post with acknowledgement card.
The Information Commissioner has the power to take action on the concerned PIO officer who refused to accept your application
24. What should I do after getting information?
It depends on why you asked for that information and what type of information is it. Often a lot of things start falling in place just by asking for information. For instance, you would get your passport or a ration card just by asking for the status of your application. In many cases, roads got repaired as soon as the “money spent” on repairs was asked. So, seeking information and questioning the government is an important step, which in itself is complete in many cases.
But suppose you expose some corruption or wrongdoing using RTI. Then, you can complain to vigilance agencies, CBI or even file an FIR.
But one thing is certain. Seeking information like this and exposing the corruption does improve the future. The officials get a clear message that the people of that area have become alert and any wrongdoings in future would not remain hidden as they were in the past. So, their risks of getting caught increase.
25. What if PIO fails to give the information?
If a PIO fails to furnish the information asked for under the Act, every PIO will be liable for a fine of Rs. 250 per day up to a maximum of Rs. 25,000/- for.
• Not accepting an application
• Delaying information release without reasonable cause
• Malafidely denying information
• Knowingly giving incomplete, incorrect, misleading information
• Destroying information that has been requested and
• Obstructing furnishing of information in any manner
• The information commission can also recommend disciplinary action against the concerned PIO, under the service rules applicable to him/her.