The right to information is implicitly guaranteed by the Constitution, the Indian Parliament enacted the Right to Information Act, 2005. This law is very comprehensive and covers almost all matters of governance. This Law has a wide reach, being applicable to Government at all levels- Union, State and Local as well as to any Organizations or NGO’s which receives fund from the central or state government entities.
The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to
to empower the citizens,
to promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government,
to 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 big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.
PART 1 What is Right To Information Act ?
1 A 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 ,
extracts or certified copies of documents or records ,and
taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority.
2 According to the Act, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to any person.
3 A citizen has a right to obtain information from a public authority in the form of
video cassettes or ,
in any other electronic mode or through printouts provided such information is already stored in a computer or in any other device.
4 The Act gives the right to information only to the citizens of India. It does not make provision for giving information to
companies etc. which are legal entities/persons, but not citizens
5 If the information is sought in the form of photocopy, it shall be provided in the form of the photocopy, or if it is sought in the form of a floppy or in any other electronic mode, it shall be provided in that form, subject to the conditions given in the Act. It does not mean that the PIO shall re-shape the information.
6 Information Seekers can request the Public Information Officers(PIO) to cull out information from some document(s) and give such extracted information to them
7 The 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
records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers,
other Officers subject to the conditions given in proviso to clause (i) of sub-section(1) of Section 8 of the Act.
8 Click for Organizations which are exempted from the RTI act.
9 Definition 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 a senior in rank to the CPIO /PIO in the same office. The applicant can write to First Appellate Authority if the applicant did not receive any information from the Public Information Officer in 30 days or
the applicant is not satisfied with the information provided by the Public Information Officer(PIO)
iv. Second Appeal : The second appeal lies with the Central Information Commission. The applicant file a second appeal if s/he did not receive a satisfactory reply even after the first appeal. The appeal made to the Central Information Commission should contain the information mentioned here on page 19.
PART 2 Method Of Seeking Information Under RTI - Offline
1 A citizen, who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an application to the Public Information Officer 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
2 The applicant can send the application by normal post or speed post or registered post or through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the public authority.
It is always recommended to send through speed post or through online because you will get the acknowledgement that the Public Information Officer has received your RTI request.
Take acknowledgement from the officer , if you hand over the RTI request by hand.
3 The 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 postoffice is cheaper and consumes less time than getting a DD from a bank.
Sample Postal Order.
4 The 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 his/her purview should redirect the application to the concerned officer duly informing the applicant.
5 Fees 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 if information is given in that form
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 send a the fee in the form of demand draft or postal order.
If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, s/he is not required to pay any fee. However,s/ he should submit a proof in support of his claim as belonging to the below poverty line category along with the application for the Public Information officer 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 , the applicant can ask officer how did s/he calculated the amount .
PART 3 Transfer Of RTI Application.
Sometimes the information we need can be under different government departments and authorities.
1 If 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.
2 If only a part of the application concerns the other public authority, a copy of the application may be sent to that public authority, clearly specifying the part which relates to that public authority.
3 While 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 of his application 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 time 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.