Simple Explainer on RTI Act
This article contains a simple language explanation of how the RTI Act works.
Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution guarantees us the right to freedom of speech and expression and as recognized by the Supreme Court this also implies a full right to information. The Right to Information Act, 2005 (“the Act”) has established the necessary practical regime of right to information. Right to information can empower citizens to take charge by participating in decision-making and by challenging corrupt and arbitrary actions at all levels. With access to government records, citizens can evaluate and determine whether the government they have elected is delivering the results that are expected.
How can I use this Act?
You can access information such as details of project budgets, implementation status, status of any complaint/application you have made to any government body etc.
Do I have to pay for information?
Yes, there is an application fee that has to be paid with each application - this fee varies across the Centre and the States. Usually, the amount is Rs. 10. Additionally, for providing the information, you will have to make payments based on the number of pages or the type of electronic records – this again varies across the Centre and States.
How do I file an RTI?
- Understand what kind of information you want and where you can get it from.
- Identify the Public Information Office (PIO) of the public authority and write out an application to the PIO. Try to make the questions as specific as possible.
- Include your name and all contact details so that the information can be delivered conveniently.
- Send it to the PIO by post or else personally go and deliver it to him/her.
- Figure out the fees you need to pay based on whether it is a Central or State public authority you are approaching. A useful compilation for states is available here. The contact details of RTI Nodal Officers of central government institutions available here.
- For the public authorities under the Central Government, you can also file applications online using the RTI Online Portal.