How to File an RTI

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding RTI or the Right to Information.It is posed as empowering the aam aadmi, scooping out the filth from the rich, corrupt and otherwise shielded. The hoopla and jargon aside, most of us are clueless about the what, why, when, where and how of it. We came across a very detailed and informative article on the RTI by a blogger Rahul Sethi. Definitely one for the aam aadmi.

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This article first appeared on  Education Bhaskar. Education Bhaskar publishes content relevant for teachers and students.

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 What is RTI?

The Right to Information(RTI) 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  (RTI) 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.

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.

Requirements for Filing an RTI form 

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.

Applicants will incur fees and costs that include, but may not be limited to the following.

 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
Maximum 45 days, if reasons for delay are given in writing
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.

  1. Intelligence Bureau (IB)
  2. Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat
  3. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
  4. Central Economic Intelligence Bureau
  5. Directorate of Enforcement
  6. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)
  7. Aviation Research Centre
  8. Special Frontier Force
  9. Border Security Force (BSF)
  10. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
  11. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
  12. Central Industrial Security Force
  13. National Security Guards
  14.  Assam Rifles
  15. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
  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)

 Penalty Provisions 

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.

The First Appellate Authority (FAA) or the Public Authority (PA) are not subjected to any penalty clause under the RTI Act.

RTI

Filing RTI

RTI Application

RTI Applications

Source: Education Bhaskar

Credit: Rahul Sethi