Filing an RTI Application – A complete Guide

Filing an RTI Application – A complete Guide

INTRODUCTION

When you invest into a subject and put your money, time, energy and interest, you want to be well informed about what’s happening with it. You want to be abreast of all the developments related to it. As a responsible citizen, we pay taxes and discharge our duties. Therefore, it is our legitimate right to know how our elected government is functioning & how the society in general, is being taken care of.

Embezzlements and concealment of public records by officials and concerned authorities, so as to deceive general mass for one’s ulterior motives was a frequent sight in Indian republic, that perpetrated within the system during last few decades. It not only affected the right of every Indian to being well informed about the nation that they have rooted for but also questioned the Indian Judiciary for the longest time. History has it that a lot of judicial decisions were being drooped due the lack of correct information, which a lot of times, was being tempered and compromised with by the public authorities, who are supposed to act as a custodian to Indian archival.

The significance of any piece of information, whether big or small, comes to the surface, only when it is most required. Much to the nation’s respite, and to endorse absolute transparency within the system and regain public trust, Government legalized the right to access any public information by Indian Citizens for a bare minimum of INR 10. The law governing this practice is called Right to Information Act 2005, which is a repealed version of Freedom of Information Act 2002, a precedent to the same act. With this enactment, the government officials were be held accountable and make disclosures on public information, desired by an Indian Citizen for inspection.

Ever since its enactment, RTI Act has proved to be a beneficial tool in the hands of the general public and has exposed many scams detrimental to social interest. Be it, Adarsh Housing Society Scam, 2G scam or the great grand misappropriation of funds in Commonwealth games, RTI has, time and again, proved its mettle and restored faith in the generic syntax of Indian working structure. It has also mandated offices to segregate and disseminate information in stipulated formats and categories, so the information may easily be retrieved as and when asked for. The act applies to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Though this article, we intent to add to your knowledge, on how an RTI application can be made and what are the necessary points to be kept in mind while preparing for it.

THE PROCESS

RTI enables every citizen to seek any piece of public information, without any procedural complications and may be submitted on a plain sheet of paper to authorized personnel. It initially started with physical writing and depositing of the application at PIO (Public Information Office), which has now been transformed into an online public platform;  https://rtionline.gov.in/ . The steps to file an RTI application are as follows:

  1. FILING AN APPLICATION
  2. An RTI application may be requested on a plain piece of paper in Hindi, English or the official language of a particular region. Though there may be different formats within various departments of public authorities but there is no compulsion to follow them necessarily under the law.
  3. The application should be written neatly and in simple language. It preferably pointwise to have easy and clear replies.
  4. The application may be handwritten or electronically typed. However, with the emergence of Online RTI facility, it is convenient and more feasible to apply online. But, that does not do away with the physical application of an RTI.
  1. PAYMENT OF FEES
  1. GENERAL FEE: The general fee for filing an RTI application is INR 10, which is required be paid along with the application to the concerned public authority. However, this quantum of the fee may differ state to state and even within numerous departments of a government department. General is informed to the applicant while submitting the application to concerned public authority. It is very important to obtain a receipt of paid fee over the counter (whether physical or online) in return of submitting an application and should be retained as a proof by the applicant for future references. (For an exhaustive view of RTI Fee Structure, please visit: https://rtionline.gov.in/ )
  1. FURTHER FEE: The amount of further fees is calculated by the public information officer at the time of extracting the details. It depends on the type and nature of data requested for and time taken to inspect the records and documents for its retrieval. The levy of further fees shall also increase if the information is required to be replied in electronic format and necessary charges for diskettes, CD or DVD would accordingly be added. For an exhaustive view of RTI Fee Structure, please visit: https://rtionline.gov.in/ )
  1. MODE OF PAYMENT: In most states and government departments, the way of payment of fees is through cash, banker’s cheque or demand draft payable in favor of Accounts officer of the concerned Public Authority. (For an exhaustive view of RTI Fee Structure, please visit: https://rtionline.gov.in/ )
  1. NO FEE: In certain cases, payment of a fee under RTI Act has been waived off.

 

One, there is no fee for a person below the poverty line, provided he produces necessary document certificate for this to PIO to his/her and upon his/her satisfaction, the fee must be waived off.

 

Second, if the concerned public authority fails to reply to an application within stipulated time under the Act, which is 30 days from the receipt of an application, the fee, in that case, both general and further, shall be waived off.

 

  1. APPEAL AGAINST THE QUANTUM OF FEES: If the applicant considers the amount of fee asked by the PIO is unreasonable, or at any stage, he is aggrieved of the fee so demanded, he may appeal against the same to Information Commission, the appellate authority under RTI Act. It will also be the duty of PIO/APIO to inform about this applicant’s right while calculating the required fees.

 

The fee structure under RTI Act, as explained above, runs differently for different states and works department. It is felt that a level of uniformity must be brought within the same, so there is lesser confusion or chaos prevailing for the general public. Proposals had been made to the Central Information Commission regarding this issue, and the problem is expected to be resolved soon.

 

  1. SUBMISSION OF APPLICATION:
  2. Once an RTI application has been made, the same needs to be submitted to PIO or APIO of concerned public authority on payment of prescribed fee.
  3. It is the duty of every applicant to receive a dated acknowledgment from the PIO’s counter/online to ensure the completion of his application to the authority. This should be retained for any further references.
  4. It is recommended for the applicant, to be aware well in advance, of the public department that he has requested information from. And if not known, then one must collect the desired information first and then apply.
  5. However, if the application pertains to some different department within the same office, the application is itself forwarded to the right place by the PIO.
  6. If the asked public authority is not answerable to questions so raised, the same is being forwarded to the appropriate public authority by PIO/APIO himself within 5 working days. The development of the status of an application is expeditiously put to the applicant’s notice too.

Section 7(1) of the RTI act requires the PIO to reply and RTI application within 30 days from the date of receipt. The PIO/APIO is required to comply with the provisions of the Act and furnish information to the applicants in a speedy and transparent manner.

RTI has made a common man powerful, in a way, that reminds him of his fundamental right and all the liberty that he must practice. Be aware. Be informed.

Note: The content above is being gathered from public and government websites & RTI Act, with a view to extending a platform to general readers have an insight on the subject.

 

 

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Comments

8 thoughts on “Filing an RTI Application – A complete Guide”
Hema Negi says:

How many days does it takes to receive reply???

Nidhi Thawal says:

30 days from the date of filing application. 48 hours if it is a matter involving life nd liberty of an individual. Also if the application is submitted to Assistant PIO then add 5 days to the above mentioned period.
Thanks!
Nidhi

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