What is RTI?
The Right to Information Act 2005 provides for setting out the practical regime of Right to Information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
When did RTI Act come into force?
The Central Right to Information Act came into force on the 12th October, 2005. However, before that 9 state Governments had passed state Acts. These were J & K, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam & Goa.
Why do we need an Act to give us this right?
If you went to any Government Department and told the officer there, “RTI is my fundamental right, and that I am the master of this country. Therefore, please show me all your files”, he would not do that. In all probability, he would throw you out of his room. Therefore, we need a machinery or a process through which we can exercise this fundamental right.
Right to Information Act 2005, which became effective on 13th October 2005, provides that machinery. Therefore, Right to Information Act does not give us any new right. It simply lays down the process on how to apply for information, where to apply, how much fees etc.
Who is covered under RTI?
Rights available under RTI
- Ask any questions from the Government or seek any information.
- Take copies of any government documents.
- Inspect any government documents.
- Inspect any Government works.
- Take samples of materials of any Government work.
Who is covered under RTI
The Central RTI Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. All bodies, which are constituted under the Constitution or under any law or under any Government notification or all bodies, including NGOs, which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government are covered.
Who will give you information about RTI
One or more existing officers in every Government Department have been designated as Public Information Officers (PIO). These PIOs act like nodal officers. You have to file your applications with them. They are responsible for collecting information sought by you from various wings of that Department and providing that information to you. In addition, 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.
Steps to file an RTI
- Under section 6(1) of the RTI Act, 2005, get the information of the concerned public authority who is known as PIO (Public Information Officer). Every department has a PIO and the address can be found on the website of the department. In case the details of PIO are not available either on the website or RTI PORTAL, you need to visit the nearest office of the relevant organization or public authority and get the address of the concerned PIO.
- Write an application with the line “Request for Information under Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005”. Mention your query point vise.
- There is a nominal fees of Rs.10 for filing RTI. The fee has to be submitted through a postal order/ CRF or by a bank draft. It should be in favor of Accounts Officer of a particular organization. For example, if RTI is being filed that concerns SBI Bank, it should be addressed to the Accounts Officer of SBI. And this has to be payable at the location of concerned department of PIO.
- You may send it by any means such as post, speed post etc. but not to be sent by courier.
- Application form has to be duly signed by the applicant.
- Acknowledgement: All RTI applications have to be acknowledged within 30 days by concerned PIO or Organization. One needs to preserve the application number and date of filing or photocopies for future reference.
Requirements for Filing an RTI form
Essential Requirements for filing an RTI
(a) The applicant should be a citizen of India.
(b) The application should contain the particulars of information sought.
(c) The evidence of payment of application fee should be enclosed.
(d) The address of the applicant should be available for sending a reply.
Word limit for RTI applications
As per rule 3, an application shall not contain over 500 words, excluding annexures, address of CPIO and the applicant. Word limit varies across Indian states. In few states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the word limit is 500 while it is 150 in Bihar and an application has limited to only one subject).
Types of Information that an applicant can seek
Records, documents, memos, mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, images or any other computer-generated material, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models or data material held in electronic form.
Fees to file RTI applications
Applicants will incur fees and costs that include, but may not be limited to the following.
Fee on an initial application
Demand draft, banker’s cheque or cash with subsequent receipt of Rs.10
Fees for information sought
- Rs.2 per page that is either printed, copied or created in A4 or A3 size
- Cost of the page or paper
- Rs.50 per disc if information is given in a disc
- Actual price of sample or models requested under the RTI Act
Fees for physical inspection of records
First hour is free after which there is a fee of Rs. 5 per hour
Procedure for Appeal
Procedure for first as well as second appeal in case the applicant fails to receive RTI information within the scheduled period. This also applies to those cases where satisfactory information is not provided. Here is an overview of the appeals procedure:
- As an applicant, an appeal has to be filed with the relevant first appellate authority within 30 days of the date that was the last day of the expiry of the 30 day time period. The appeal is to seek information.
- Your appeal will be reviewed and disposed within 30 days of receipt or 45 days in ‘exceptional cases’.
- As an applicant, if your appeal is not disposed or you are still left unsatisfied, you can file a second appeal to the Central Information Commission. This appeal must be within 90 days from the date that was the last day of the 30 or 45 day time period of the first appeal.
For PIO to reply to an application
30 days from date of receipt of application
For PIO to transfer to another PA under Sec 6(3)
5 days from date of receipt of application
For PIO to issue notice to 3rd Party
5 days from date of receipt of application
For 3rd Party to make a representation to PIO
10 days from receipt of notice from PIO
For PIO to reply to an application if a 3rdParty involved
40 days from date of receipt of application
For applicant to make First Appeal
30 days from date of receipt of PIO’s reply or from date when reply was to be received
For First Appellate Authority to pass an order
30 days from receipt of First Appeal OR
For applicant to make Second Appeal before CIC/SIC
90 days from receipt of First Appeal orders or from the date when orders were to be received
For CIC/SIC to decide Second Appeal
No time limit specified
Authorities exempt from the RTI
The Second Schedule of the RTI Act exempts certain Public Authorities under the Central Government from disclosure of information.
4. Central Economic Intelligence Bureau
5. Directorate of Enforcement
6. Narcotics Control Bureau
7. Aviation Research Centre
8. Special Frontier Force
9. Border Security Force
10. Central Reserve Police Force
11. Indo-Tibetan Border Police
12. Central Industrial Security Force
13. National Security Guards
14. Assam Rifles
15. Sashastra Seema Bal
16. Directorate General of Income-tax (Investigation)
17. National Technical Research Organisation
18. Financial Intelligence Unit, India
19. Special Protection Group
20. Defence Research and Development Organization
21. Border Road Development Board
22. National Security Council Secretariat
23. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
24. National investigation Agency (NIA)
25. National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)
The CIC or the SIC can impose a penalty on the PIO, while deciding on a complaint or a second appeal. Penalty can be imposed if the PIO has:
1. Refused to receive an application
2. Not furnished the requested information within 30 days of receiving the application
3. Denied the request for information
4. Knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information
5. Destroyed information, which was the subject of the request
6. Obstructed in any manner, in furnishing the information
The amount of penalty shall be Rs.250 per day till the information is furnished or the application is received, subject to a maximum of Rs.25,000. The penalty has to be paid by the PIO from his salary and not by the Public Authority. The CIC or the SIC will give the PIO a reasonable opportunity to be heard before the penalty is imposed. However the burden of proving that he acted reasonably shall be on the PIO.
Under Section 20(2) of the RTI Act, the CIC or the SIC can also recommend disciplinary action as per the service rules applicable to the PIO.
The First Appellate Authority (FAA) or the Public Authority (PA) are not subjected to any penalty clause under the RTI Act.