We are not going into the brief history of the RTI Act or such other details as we are concerned with how to practically implement the law. Right to Information Act is widely used now in India. Various RTI Activists use the law for gaining information which was otherwise not available to common citizens. RTI is a tool which should be used to remove injustice and should not be made a resource of earning money by illegal means. Click here to view a copy of the RTI Act for proper information.
What can be made available under the RTI ACT ?
1. The workings of various Govt. departments, procedures thereof and in what manner these departments provide services to the citizens.
2. Citizens can peruse files of Administrative Sections of Different Government Departments.
3. Citizens can ask for present status of their various applications (such as those made for electricity/water connections etc. and so also can compare it with the processing of applications of the others as also the reason behind the rejection of such application
4. Information regarding local development works.
5. Duly signed information from respective authority regarding the material used in any of the government work like material used for construction of a local road or a local school.
6. Details of tenders received and accepted.
7. The stock of medicines available in the Government Hospitals, rationing shops and such other stocks with Government Departments which will vary according to the nature of work.
To whom the RTI Act is applicable ?
1. Any public authority which is established, constituted, owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly by the Central Government or the Union territory administration, the Central Government.
2. A public authority which is established, constituted, owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly by the State Government.
3. Public Authority means 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 body owned, controlled or substantially financed and or non-Government organization substantially financed directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government.
The act is not applicable to whom ?
The Act is not applicable to the following intelligence and security organizations established by the Central Government and the reports submitted by such organizations to the government.
The List of 22 exempted organizations is given below :
- Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Ministry of Finance
- Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Finance
- Directorate of Enforcement, Ministry of Finance
- Narcotics Control Bureau
- Aviation Research Centre
- Special Frontier Force
- Border Security Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Central Reserve Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Central Industrial Security Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
- National Security Guard, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Research & Analysis Wing of The Cabinet Secretariat
- Assam Rifles, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Sashastra Seema Bal, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Special Protection Group
- Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ministry of Defence
- Border Road Development Organisation
- Financial Intelligence Unit, India
- Directorate General Income Tax (Investigation)
- National Technical Research Organisation
- National Security Council Secretariat
(for the updates on the list, please visit – http://rti.india.gov.in/exempted.php)
However, information regarding Infringement of Human Rights can be obtained after prior permission of the Central Information Commission.
How to file RTI ?
Getting Copies :
We can seek information by post or we can obtain the same personally from the respective office. We must mention the mode in the application.
Personal inspection of the documents and records :
Sometimes an activist may face not have exact details based upon which information should be gathered. This may cost time and money in getting unnecessary copies. This can be avoided by filing an RTI to personally inspect the documents.
The Activist can file an RTI requesting to personally inspect the records.
On receipt of the same the Public Information Officer shall issue a letter requesting the activist to visit his office on a particular date and time.
On such date and time the activist should visit the office to inspect the particulars of information. If it is not possible for him to go due to some difficulties, he may right the same to the information officer and the date can be changed by mutual understanding.
On the said date, the activist shall inspect the records, he shall not carry and pen, written records. He can carry blank sheets of papers along with pencil to jot down any notes.
The inspection fee is nil for the first hour and 5 Rupees for every further 15 minutes or fraction thereof.
Formats of RTI application and appeal
Proper and improper methods of RTI application
We should know the appropriate method of seeking information under RTI. Applications framed with improper questions may cause loss of time and money.
1. Did any complaints were lodged in your police station ?
b. Against how many ill-legal sand dealers action taken by the police station in the given time period?
c. In the given period to how many dealers notice issued u/s 149 from the police station?
d. Does any complaint was lodged in your police station against Mr. ABC ?
1. Please provide Information on records regarding the complaints lodged in the police station against ill-legal sand extraction from the specified area during the given time period.
2. Please provide Information on records regarding the action taken by the police station against ill-legal sand extraction during the given time period
3. Please provide Information on records as to the persons against whom notice was issued by the police station u/s 149 of Criminal Procedure Code.
4. Please provide Information on records regarding complaint lodged in the police station against Mr. ABC if any
5. If any complaint as above was lodged, then please provide copy thereof
Some general points
1. Person seeking information from a public authority is required to affix court fee stamp of Rs. 10/- (Rupees ten) to the application. The payment of fee can also be made by way of cash to the public authority or to the Assistant Public Information Officer, against a proper receipt. You must keep copy of such receipt. RTI application in Central Government Department requires a demand draft or a bankers cheque or an Indian Postal Order of Rs.10/- (Rupees ten), payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority along with the application.
2. Rules may vary in each State, therefore, it is advised to study the States’ rules before filing application.
3. Prescribed fee of Rs. 20/- (Rupees Twenty) for First and Second Appeal is payable in the same manner mentioned herein above.
4. The Applicant can send his representative in the concerned office along with the authority letter to complete the process of payment of charges and collection of documents.The reprentative should also carry with himself a copy of such authority letter and the authority letter should be directly posted to the Public information officer.
5. In case of applicant below poverty line, the information is provided free of cost.
6. If the information is required for saving of life or release of any person, then in such cases on basis of emergency information can be demanded within 48 hours.
7. If information is delayed or the reason of such delay is not informed to the applicant within due period, then the applicant can avail information free of cost.
8. The Applicant can’t be questioned as to why he is seeking the information. Applicant is not bound to reveal the same.
9. If respective officer fails to provide Information within due period, he may be directed to pay fine of Rs. 250/- per day. The maximum limit of fine is Rs. 25000/- and the officer may have to face internal inquiry.
10. It mandatory that while denying the information the Public Information officer must give the reason of denial and the details of Appellate Authority.
11. The second appeal can be made to the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission. As the Central Information Commission is also administrator of the Act any complaints and or suggestions can be made to the same.
12. Study of Section 8 of the Act is a must – Section 8 provides certain express prohibitions to supply information, it is reproduced below,
Section 8 – (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,—
A. 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;
B. 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;
C. information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
D. 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;
E. 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;
F. information received in confidence from foreign Government;
G. 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;
H. information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
I. cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:
Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over:
Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;
J. 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:
Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
13. Experiences while availing information under RTI Act
A. Many a times when the Public Information officers come to know that the applicant has social interest and he is not seeking the information for personal benefit, the officers helps the applicant with all his resources. This is a welcome experience which the activists of HVP have taken many a times.
B. Public Information Officers are also scary of the RTI activists who file appeals to harass the officer
HVP activist had filed an RTI with Jail Authorities in order to gain information about Bangladeshi immigrants. Before the appeal, the information officer was nersous and was not talking normally with the activist.
After the appeal was over, the officer realized that the intentions of the activist were genuine and he had filed the appeal for getting information. After this realization, the public information officer was so happy that he said whenever you need any help regarding RTI, he will readiliy help. The change of attitude was because of the honesty of the activist.
C. An appeal was filed and was posted for appeal in Pandharpur. The activist reached there from Mumbai (after a 10 hour travel by bus) and waited patiently before the time of appeal. The Appellate Officer however did not turn up in time and after meeting the activist, he pressurized the activist to come after some time. He said ‘I will adhjourn the matter and you please come after 15 days’. The pressurization normally can’t be replied back by a common citizen. But he replied back saying ‘ok, I will come back again, please pay me the expenses I incurred for the appeal’.
Now it was the officer’s turn, red faced he said, ‘how can you claim expenses reimbursement from me ?’, show me the provision in RTI to that effect !
‘Then please show me the provision to adjourn the appeal in RTI!’ retorted the activist. The appellate officer was fuming but had no answer to this and in the said anger, he immediately called his subordinates and directed to give all relevant information to the activist as soon as possible.
These are the ways to handle the process. The activist should be humble but not timid. He should be to the point and his should have knowledge of law. His honesty will surely earn him cooperation from the officers.
Note on the page somewhere – The information provided is in good faith and for the general welfare. However it is adviced to visit official website of State and Central Information Commissions for information and clarifications.