We have been wanting do this post for sometime now, simply because the more people know about RTI and actively use it, the more each one of us are doing our bit to curb corruption and wrong practices in Government Department. RTI indirectly ensures that all Government departments adhere to legal processes and systems and is documents as RTI can immediately bring everything in public domain!
In simple words, the Right to Information Act or RTI is an act that practically supports and enables citizens to claim their right to information which is guaranteed by the constitution of India.
Let’s put aside all the jargon and complicated terms to take a look at what the Right to Information Act is all about – from a common citizen’s perspective.
Right to Information Act (RTI) – What is it for?
The Right to Information Act was established to make the government accountable for its work by empowering citizens to demand information regarding its activities. This act applies to both the Central and the State Governments of India except Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own RTI Act.
What information are we talking about?
The RTI aims to allow citizens to ask for records, documents, circulars, contracts, reports, papers, emails, memos and all other information held in print or electronic form from the public authorities, i.e. all the governing bodies. There are certain sections of administrative activities that are exempt from the RTI Act, details of which can be found in Section 8 and 9 of RTI Act 2005.
The RTI Act 2005 also empowers citizens to physically inspect the records that have been duly maintained by the government and its administrative bodies.
Who can ask for information?
All citizens can ask for information whether they want to inspect the work and activities of the Government or simply exercise their right to other information and documents that were mentioned earlier. If you are a citizen who seeks information or want to inspect records of governing and administrative bodies, you are a valid applicant.
How can you ask for information?
Citizens can exercise their right to information by filing an application with a Central Public Information Officer (CPIO). All the administrative levels of the government will have a CPIO who will give the required information to people who file an application or a query under the RTI Act.
As an applicant, you should know that there is no particular format required. Your application can even be on simple plain paper. Applicants however need to ensure that their contact details including name and correspondence address appear on the application. Reasonable assistance can be expected from the CPIO if you decide to give your application in writing.
On what grounds can you seek information under the RTI act?
As a citizen, applicant under the RTI and as an information seeker, you are not required to give any reasons if you wish to seek information under the RTI Act.
Is there a fee to file and RTI application?
Yes, as per the RTI Act 2005, applicants will incur fees and costs that include, but may not be limited to the following
Fee on initial application
Demand draft, banker’s cheque or cash with subsequent receipt of Rs. 10
Fees for information sought
- 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
How long will it take?
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.
|For PIO to reply to 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 application if 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|
The RTI Act 2005 guide also mentions that if you as an applicant have given your application to an Assistant CPIO or the wrong public authority, 5 days will be added to the generally prescribed time frame.
What if you don’t receive the RTI information or wish to appeal?
The RTI Act 2005 has set forth guidelines and procedures for applicants who have not been given the information they seek in time or are not satisfied with the information provided to them. Here is an overview of the appeals procedure
- As an applicant, you should file an appeal 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 to supply information. [Please refer the timeline chart above]
- 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 Central Information Commission. This appeal must be done within 90 days from the date that was the last day of the 30 or 45 day time period of the first appeal.
Cumulative RTI statistics for past 3 years
Here are some numbers released by authorities that give you an idea about number of RTI applications that were filed / rejected in last 3 years.
|Opening balance of RTI requests (as on 1st April of the reporting year)||32,792||97,474||1,37,771|
|Number of requests received during the year||329,728||5,29,274||4,17,955|
|Total number of requests at the end of the reporting year||362,520||6,26,748||5,55,726|
|Number of Requests rejected||23,954||34,057||21,621|
|Requests rejected as a percentage of requests received during the year||7.26%||6.43%||5.20%|
|Requests rejected as percentage of total number of requests at the end of reporting year||6.60%||5.43%||3.89%|
Hope this article helps you in getting to know everything there is for RTI – Go exercise your Right to Information now!