All You Need to Know About RTI
- HOW TO FILE A LEGAL QUERY UNDER RTI
THINGS TO REMEMBER
1. Write your queries in the form of a numbered list so that the PIO can furnish information in the same order. This numbering should be ideally maintained at all levels including first appeal, second appeal, complaints, etc.
2. You may write as many paragraphs or sub-paragraphs as you want in a single application. There is no limit to the amount of information you may inquire about in a single application. The initial fee payable will remain the same. Having said this, it is advisable to break an application into smaller parts according to queries. This will help both the PIO in providing the information and you in keeping track of what have been received.
3. Each query should deal with just one piece of information or work or record.
4. Be unyielding but polite. Do not take out your anger in the RTI application. Focus on the need for information and ask for it in a respectful manner.
5. Be specific about the information you need, or the work and records that you want to inspect, or the certified samples of materials that you want to collect.
6. If you know the sections of RTI act or decisions of CIC/SIC which are in favour of your query, do mention the same at the end of respective queries.
PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW
The Right to Information Act 2005, Section 2(h)(d)(ii) defines "public authority" as any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted— (a) by or under the constitution; (b) by any other law made by parliament; (c) by any other law made by state legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate government, and includes any— (i) Body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) Non-government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by fund provided by the appropriate government;
1. Under the Act, all public authorities covered must appoint their PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER (PIO).
2. Any person may submit a request to the PIO for information in writing. It is the PIO's obligation to provide information to citizens of India who request information under the Act. If the request pertains to another public authority (in whole or part), it is the PIO's responsibility to transfer/forward the concerned portions of the request to a PIO of the other within 5 working days. In addition, every public authority is required to designate ASSISTANT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICERS (APIOs) to receive RTI requests and appeals for forwarding to the PIOs of their public authority.
3. The applicant is not required to disclose any information or reasons other than his name and contact particulars to seek the information. If the request has been made to the PIO, the reply is to be given within 30 days of receipt.
4. If the request has been made to an APIO, the reply is to be given within 35 days of receipt.
5. If the PIO transfers the request to another public authority (better concerned with the information requested), the time allowed to reply is 30 days but computed from the day after it is received by the PIO of the transferee authority.
6. Information concerning corruption and Human Rights violations by scheduled Security agencies (those listed in the Second Schedule to the Act) is to be provided within 45 days but with the prior approval of the Central Information Commission.
7. However, if life or liberty of any person is involved, the PIO is expected to reply within 48 hours.
8. Further, information not provided in the time prescribed is to be provided free of charge. For posing an initial query under RTI there is a fee of 10 for filing the request, 2 per page of information and 5 for each hour of inspection after the first hour. If the applicant is a Below Poverty Card holder (BPL), then no fee shall apply. Such BPL Card holders have to provide a copy of their BPL card along with their application to the Public Authority. States Government and High Courts fix their own rules.
· FIRST APPEAL
First appeal to an appellate authority (AA) is preferred under section 19(1).
1. You can apply on a plain paper in English, Hindi or local language.
2. The information sought is be provided immediately free of cost.
3. Disciplinary action can be initiated against erring officers for not complying with the law.
4. A cause may arise at any point in the whole process of using the RTI.
5. Some AAs may call you for a hearing, whilst many other do not. If you do not attend the hearing, a decision will be given in your absence on the basis of documents/merit.
6. If you go for a hearing, take all relevant documents with you.
7. Do not come under pressure to withdraw any part of the application or appeal.
8. Remember that AA is the boss of the PIO and both are likely to be well-wishers of each other.
9. Try to avoid bringing your grievance into the picture. Focus on the technical and legal points and the information you have sought. If, however, you feel that the hearing is an opportunity to get your grievance resolved or get justice, use the opportunity. Remember that the AA is a fairly senior person in that department and carries a lot of influence who can get your grievance resolved.
10. If the information is important but not urgent and you feel that the PIO has no vested interest in the information, be kind to him and allow him more time.
11. Finally, what is important is the "Decision" which you may receive within 3 to 15 days.
· SECOND APPEAL
Second appeal is preferred under section 19(3).
1. Correct format is not necessary but desirable. Information Commissions are known to reject a large percentage of appeals due to their non-conformity with the format and compliance to regulations.
2. Copy of every annexure attached to the original copy should be self-attested.
3. Complete and comprehensive information be provided to the Appellant in one batch free of cost immediately.
4. Compensation be provided to the Appellant u/s 19(8)(b) for not supplying information within the prescribed time limit.
5. U/s 19(8)(b), the Public Authority be ordered to reimburse the Appellant towards traveling and lodging-boarding expenses for attending the hearing. Disciplinary action be recommended against the Respondent(s) u/s 20(2).
6. Penalty can be imposed on the PIO u/s 20(1).
7. An entry in service book/annual appraisal report of the concerned PIO & FAA be made for defying the provisions of the Act.
8. For all central government Public Authorities, send your appeal to the Central Information Commission. For Public Authorities of state govt., send it to respective State Information Commission.
9. No fee is payable.
10. Almost all Information Commissions are inefficient and known to lose your files - sometimes even before your appeal gets registered.
11. Some Information Commissions have the facility to check the status of your appeal online.
12. You may send reminders through Registered or Speed Post every 2-3 weeks.
13. If you are not getting any response, file an RTI application with the Information Commission and ask for the status of your appeal.
14. Visit the Commission and check with the officials.
15. In most cases, you will be called for a hearing which you must try to attend. If you do not attend, a decision will be given in your absence on the basis of documents/merit.
16. If you go for the hearing, take all relevant documents with you.
17. Some Information Commissioners may try to intimidate you. Don't be.
18. Try to avoid bringing your grievance into the picture. Focus on the technical and legal points and the information you have sought.
19. If the information is important but not urgent and you feel that the PIO has no vested interest in the information and has generally acted honestly and diligently, be kind to him and allow him more time.
20. Finally, what is important is the "Decision" which you should receive within 7 to 30 days.
21. Some Information Commissions post most of their decisions on their website. Keep checking the website to see if your decision has been posted.
22. If the Commission does not respond within two months, go to the High Court of your state by way of a writ.
23. For further inquiry log on to www.rti.gov.in