The Importance of RTI
- At the price of Rs.10, it provides the facility for Citizens to get information on the Government's actions and decisions. If you send your application by registered post or courier, the extra cost will be about 10 to 25 Rupees. The cost of getting the information of about five pages would be Rs. 10/. Even if you add the postage cost of getting the information the total will be about 70 rupees.
- The law mandates that the information has to be given within 30 days.
- If a few thousand Citizens spend about Rs. 70 per month and about an hour in their own house they can file a new RTI application and get information about matters, which concern them.
- The power of getting accountability, reducing corruption, impacting policy decisions and ensuring better governance is now with us. We missed our opportunity in 1950, but have another chance now.
- YOU individually can make a big contribution to getting the Nation we want.
- A small effort from our own house, can bring Swaraj.
- inspection of work, documents, records;
- taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records.
- taking certified samples of material;
- obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies. tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device; ‘
- A time period (30 days) within which information must be provided.
- Method of giving the information.
- Ten exemptions of information- Section 8 (1),- which will not be given.
- Citizens can ask for information by getting photocopies of documents, permissions, policies and decisions.
- Inspection of files can also be done and samples can be asked for.
- All administrative offices of public authorities have to appoint ‘Public Information Officers (PIO)’ or ‘Assistant Public Information Officer’
- Citizens apply for information to the Public Information Officer of the concerned office.
- If information is not provided or wrongly refused, the Citizen can go in appeal to an Appellate Authority who would be an official in the same department, senior to the PIO. The Appellate authority has to give a decision in 30 days.
- If this too does not give a satisfactory result, one can appeal to the State or Central Information Commissioner, which is an independent Constitutional Authority, established under the Act.
- The Act provides for a penalty for delay on the PIO at a rate of Rs. 250 per day of delay, or for malafide denial of information, or giving false information. In case of information being delayed, no charges for information are to be paid.
- Application fee Rs.10 payable by cash or pay order. Maharashtra also allows payment by Court fee stamps. For Central Government bodies the 10 rupee application fee can be paid by an Indian Postal Order in the name of the Accounts officer of the public authority.
- Maharashtra has a format for application. The Central Government has no fixed format. Citizens can use the Maharashtra format for both.
- Charges for providing information in A4 size paper are Rs.2 per page.
- No need to get forms from anywhere. Your application can be typed or handwritten. When sending handwritten applications ensure that they are easily readable.
- Maharashtra restricts the words for seeking information to 150. The Central rules have a word limit of 500 words (excluding annexures and addresses of PIO and applicant).
- You need information on some activity of the Government, or reasons on record for certain decisions.
- You know or suspect corruption or wrongdoing in some department or activity. The mere asking of information sometimes reduces illegal acts, since the wrongdoers feel restrained or threatened by exposure.
- When bribes are sought to give your ration card or water connection or an authority refuses to act on a complaint or FIR.
- You feel you could suggest improvements, if you have the information.
- Find out the address of office or department, which is responsible. You can address your application to the PIO, at that office. All offices are supposed to have a PIO or APIO. If the application goes to the wrong PIO, he has to forward it to the correct PIO within five days
- Information has to exist in the office in some form. Think of how to frame a question asking for information, which will serve the objective you are trying to attain.
- If you wish to know of the policy for reserving or dereserving of land, ask for a copy of the rules governing it. If you wish to know why a sports ground is being converted into a commercial complex, ask for the copies of the correspondence including file notings on this.
- If you suspect that your application for passport, incometax refund or ration card is being delayed ask for the action taken status of your application.
- If you think a government college is giving admissions arbitrarily, ask for the list of students admitted with their marks.
- Vinita Deshmukh inspected records and unearthed the fact that Dow was setting up manufacturing plant with dangerous chemicals near Pune. Dow had to withdraw.
- information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence;
- information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
- information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
- information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
- information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
- information received in confidence from foreign government;
- information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
- information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
- cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:
- Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information:
Date on which Application received
Name and designation of
The officer receiving it.
Date on which forwarded to
- Information must exist. RTI cannot directly get you a decision; eg. Asking why pension has not been obtained, or when your passport would be given may not get you any information since,- assuming there is no reason for the delay,- there is no record for this. Instead asking about the progress of your file, or norms for disposal of work, gives you documentary evidence showing the lack of justification for the delays and gives you names of officials responsible. Even if the administration is corrupt or grossly inefficient, it puts pressure on the officials if they give you the information in writing. Sometimes this stage itself works to get your desired result, at other times you would have to use it to complain to the higher authorities. If the higher authorities do not respond, use RTI to ask about the progress of your complaint in the format given for progress of application.
- Keep your demand for information focused and brief. If asking for information to highlight some malpractise, limit the period to a few months.
A good RTI application with limited queries which is brief, usually gets better results.
- Do not use RTI to make complaints, or taunt officers.
- RTI is a tool to get information, which may have to be used to get desired results.
Can be used for Central government bodies
Annexure A (see rule 3)
Format of application for obtaining information under the Right To Information Act, 2005
- You will get the information you have sought, and are satisfied. The PIO may ask for payment of fees, which is prescribed as follows:
- For A4 size copies or typed information Rs. 2 per page.
- For information given on Floppy or CD- Rs. 50/
- Maps, books or documents, which have been priced earlier, the price fixed for these.
- For inspection of files or records-no charge for first hour and then Rs. 5 per every fifteen minutes.
- Postage charge would be added to this.
- The information asked for may be denied by the PIO giving reasons mentioned in the exclusion clauses (Section 8 (1)).
- If the reasons are right, you cannot get the information.
- The reasons may be wrong, or irrelevant.
- You may be given partial or irrelevant information.
- No answer may be sent to you. –Under Section 7 (2) if no reply is given in 30 days, it is ‘deemed refusal’.
- The appeal must be made within 30 days of receiving the PIOs letter, OR Within 30 days from the last date on which the information should have been received - in case no letter is received,- ie. within 60 days of your application..
- The Appellate authority must dispose off the appeal within 30 days,- OR after giving reasons for delay - in a further period of 15 days; ie. a total of 45 days, if a letter giving reasons is issued.
- An appellate authority may give a personal hearing to you and the PIO.
- The Appellate Authority though belonging to the same department as the PIO is actually conducting a quasi-judicial proceeding and expected to give a fair and unbiased order based on your arguments in the appeal. He is also required to give reasons for arriving at a decision. The actual outcome may be:
- You get an order directing the PIO to give the information (reasonable chance).
- You may get an order rejecting the appeal and refusing to give the information.
- You may get no reply at all. This is deemed rejection, once the period of 30/45 days is over.
- It restores to Citizens the right to get information on rules, expenditure, reasons for taking decisions, copies of Government orders, agreements, Audit reports and so on. Virtually most activities of the Government can be monitored by the people.
- Anyone can use RTI, without going to a Government office at low cost.
- With a Rs10 fee and a proper format, a Citizen initiates a very powerful legal course, which entitles him to information, which can be demanded by MLAs and MPS on the floor of the house! You do not have to get forms from anywhere. Just use the format, specified in some States.
- Citizens have felt helpless as individuals to question or correct wrongs as individuals. This Act restores the majesty of the Citizen and empowers him to use the Power of ONE.
- You can convert our purely electoral democracy into a true participatory democracy, by which we can get and monitor better governance, and also be early participants in framing policy.
Some effective uses of RTI:
The RTI Act, various State rules, formats and case studies can be accessed at www.satyamevajayate.info