Right to information
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. RTI is thus a tool that can change the role of the citizens from being mere spectators to that of being active participants in the process of governance. Under this Act, an Indian Citizen can access the information from the public authority. The Act extends to the whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Scope of information access
According to Section 2 (j) of RTI Act 2005, "Right to Information" means the Right to Information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the possession of any Central or State Public Authority and that includes the right to:
- Inspection of work, documents, records;
- Taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records;
- Taking certified samples of material;
- Obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device.
Public authority means
The Act gives you the right to access to information held by “public authorities” which includes authorities, bodies, institution of self government which are 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 owned, controlled or substantially financed by the State or Central Governments, including non-government organisations which receive substantial government funds directly or indirectly
- Press releases
- Data material held in any electronic form and
- Information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.
- 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 enlarged or not) and
- any other material produced by a computer or any other device
Information exempted from disclosure by public authorities
A citizen may not be provided the following information unless s/he convinces the Public Information Officer that the public interest in disclosure outweighs any other interests served by non-disclosure (partial access may be provided to the part of the record which does not contain information exempted from disclosure).
- 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
- 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 disclosure 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 "Right to Information Act"
Any Indian citizen without any minimum and maximum age limit can submit request for information under RTI Act.
Submission of request for information
Request for information under Right to Information Act- 2005
- You can seek information under RTI Act- 2005 from any Public Authority (government organization or government aided organization).
- Application can be handwritten or typed.
- Application should be submit in English, Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made.
- Provide following information 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 of information you want from public authority
- Applicant Name
- Father’s/Husband’s Name
- Category- SC/ST/OBC
- Application Fee
- Are 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
Submit 1st appeal application
Tips to submit 1st Appeal Application under RTI Act - 2005
- When to do the First Appeal:
- If Public Information Officer (PIO) has rejected your application to supply the sought information. First appeal has to be filed within 30 days from date of receipt of decision of CPIO by the applicant with First Appellate Authority (FAA).
- If Public Authority unable to supply information within time limit of 30 days. If no reply is received 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 date when reply was due from CPIO.
- If Public Authority have not appointed Assistant Public Information Officer/Public Information Officer to receive the application or to supply the sought information
- Whom to address.
If you want to be present during the first appeal hearing, mention it at the end of your appeal.
No fee is prescribed for first appeal for Public Authorities under the Central Government. Some States have a prescribed fee and a specified format for First Appeal. Please check RTI Rules of individual Sates regarding First Appeal fees (if any), mode of payment, format (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 appeal and postal receipt and AD receipt. 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 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 give either a "spoken" order or a written order.
- Find out name, designation and address of first appellate authority from the decision letter of CPIO. If no reply is received, visit the web-site of the govt. dept /office /undertaking and refer RTI section for these details.
- Despite 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 address of CPIO’s dept/office.
Submit 2nd appeal application
Tips to submit 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 supplied information by Public Authority is incomplete, misleading or false
Submit RTI applications online for all Ministries/Public Authorities of Central Government
To file RTI applications/first appeals for all Ministries/Departments and other Public Authorities of Central Government, click here.
Status of the application can also be viewed through the portal.
Submit 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.
What is the difference between an Appeal and a Complaint under the RTI Act?
A second appeal under section 19 (3) of the Act is filed against an order of the FAA in a public authority or when the FAA does not make a decision within the specified time. Section 18 (1) of the RTI Act provides grounds on which a complaint may be filed. The complaint may relate to inability for file RTI to reach into, refusal to give information etc. The main difference between a complaint and a second appeal is that in the case of an appeal, the CIC may pass orders directing the CPIO to provide the requested information to the appellant in appropriate cases whereas such orders cannot be passed while dealing with a complaint.
When to file 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
The mandatory time period for filing Complaint:
- Complaint can be filed immediately if CPIO of Public Authority refuses to accept RTI Application as per RTI Act 2005.
- After receipt of reply to RTI application or thirty days after filing of RTI application and if no reply received
- After receipt of reply from First Appellate Authority or forty-five days after filing of First appeal, if the Complainant had chosen to file first appeal and no reply had been received.
Registration of Complaint as second appeal
During scrutiny of Complaint, if it is found that Complainant has requested for the information along with the imposition of penalty, the complaint would be registered as Second Appeal, provided first appeal had been filed by the Complainant.
Visit "Submit RTI complaint to CIC" for more information about the process of filing the complaint.
To know more information, click here.
Drafting an RTI Application
- Updated RTI guide for all stakeholders
- RTI Guide for first Appellate Authority
- RTI Guide for Public authorities
- RTI guide for Public information Seeker
- RTI Act
- Exempted Organisations
Source : Central Information Commission