Right to Information
Our right to freedom of speech and expression is clearly stated in Article (1) of the Indian constitution, which the Supreme Court equally recognized and regarded as a full right to information. The practical regime of power to information has been established by the Right of Information ACT, 2005 (the Act). People can be empowered by the Right to Information to be in charge by taking part in decision making as well as challenging corrupt and arbitrary action at all levels. By having access to government records, people will be able to assess and ascertain if the government elected is productive as expected. Therefore, with the RTI citizens can change from being just on-lookers to start participating actively in governance. Information can now be accessed by an Indian citizen from the Public Authority under this Act. Except for the states of Jammu and Kashmir, the Act extends to the whole of India.
SCOPE OF INFORMATION ACCESS
As stated in Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act 2005 “Right of Information” means the information that can be accessed under this Act which is held by or under the possession of any Central or State Public Authority, including the right
- To inspect work, documents, records
- To take notes, extracts or certified copies of records or documents
- To take certified samples of material
- To obtain information in different forms such as tapes, floppies, diskettes, video cassettes or in any other electronic form or as printouts in which such information is stored in a computer system or any other device.
Public Authority Means:
The Act establishes the right to have access to information held by “Public Authorities,” including authorities, bodies, institution of self-government whether established or constituted;
- by the Constitution
- by a law of Parliament or a State Legislature
- by a notification or order of the State or Central Governments
- Bodies which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the State or Central Governments, including non-government organizations which are directly or indirectly mainly funded by the government.
Information Refers to;
Records, documents, Memos, E-mails, Opinions, Advice, Press releases, Circulars, Orders, Logbooks, Contracts, Reports, Papers, Samples, Models,
Data material is in electronic form and Information relating to any private body that is accessible by a public authority under any other law for the time it is in force.
Record Refers to;
- any document, manuscript, and file
- any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document
- any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether big or not)
- any other material produced by a computer or any other device
Information Exempted from Disclosure by Public Authorities
A citizen may not be able to access the information stated below unless the public information officer is convinced that the interest of the public in disclosure exceeds any other benefits served by nondisclosure. (There may be partial access to some parts of the record which does not contain information that has been exempted from disclosure;
- Information, the 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 offense.
- The 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 exposure 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.
- The information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the more significant public interest justifies 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.
- The 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 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.
- The 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 Public Information Officer is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.
Eligibility to use the “Right to Information Act.”
Requests for information under RTI Act can be submitted by any Indian citizen who has no minimum and maximum age limit.
Submission of Request for Information
Requesting for information under Right to Information Act- 2005
- You can seek access to information under the RTI Act- 2005 from any Public Authority either government organization or organization assisted by the government. The application can be typed or handwritten. The application form can be downloaded from the India Development Gateway Portal. It is a pdf file
- The application should be submitted in English, Hindi or any other state languages
- The following information should be provided in your application:
- Name and office address of Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO)/Public Information Officer (PIO)
- Subject: Application under-Section 6(1) of Right to Information Act- 2005
- Particular information you want from the public authority
- Applicant Name
- Father’s/Husband’s Name
- Category- SC/ST/OBC
- Application Fee
- Do you come under BPL family- Yes/No,
- Postal address with mobile No and e-mail ID (Mobile No and e-mail ID is not mandatory)
- Date and place
- Applicant signature
- List of enclosures
Tips to submit 1st Appeal Application under RTI Act – 2005
- When to do the First Appeal:
If your application to seek information was rejected by the Public Information Officer (PIO), you must file the first appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of a decision of CPIO by the applicant with First Appellate Authority (FAA).
If the Public Authority cannot provide the information within the time limit of 30 days, if there’s no reply within 30 days (35 days if application is lodged with ACPIO) from the date of receipt by CPIO (ACPIO), then first appeal has to be filed within 30 days from the time when reply was due from CPIO.
If Public Authority has not appointed Assistant Public Information Officer/Public Information Officer to receive the application or to supply the sought information.
- Who to address.
You can find out the name, designation, and address of the first appellate authority from the decision letter of CPIO. If no reply is received, visit the website of the government. Dept. /office /undertaking and refer to the RTI section for these details.
Despite the above efforts, if you are not in a position to locate details of FAA, address your first appeal as under: The First Appellate Authority under RTI Act 2005 C/O. Head of Dept./office and mention the address of CPIO’s dept./office.
- You should state it at the end of your appeal if you want to be present at the first appeal hearing.
- You won’t pay any fee for the first appeal for Public Authorities under the Central Government. Some States have a prescribed fee and a specified format for the First Appeal. Check RTI Rules of individual States regarding First Appeal fees (if any), mode of payment, (if any) if your First Appeal is to a Public Authority falling under State Government.
- All photocopies of enclosures mentioned in the appeal should be self-attested by the applicant under the word ‘Attested’ and full signature.
- Retain one set of appeals and postal receipts and AD receipts. You can deliver personally also, but mailing by registered ad/speed post is preferable. Couriers should be avoided.
- FAA has to decide on the appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the first appeal. S/He can take a further 15 days (total 45 days), provided s/he gives the reasons for the delay in writing. The FAA can offer either a “spoken” order or a written order.
Submitting 2nd Appeal Application under RTI Act – 2005
- When to submit the 2nd Appeal Application:
If you are not satisfied with the judgment of First Appellate Officer,
If you think the supplied information by Public Authority is incomplete, misleading or false
Submit an online application to CIC
Appeal (especially 2nd appeal) or complaint to Central Information Commission (CIC) can be submitted only in that case if you want information from any Central Public Authority
When to file an online complaint to CIC
When you are unable to submit your application to a Central Public Information Officer, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer has refused to accept your application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information.
Visit “Submit RTI complaint to CIC ” for more information about the process of filing the complaint.
Drafting an RTI Application
- Request Form for Information
- First Appeal Form
- Second Appeal Form