Updated guide to using RTI

IN Media Practice | 03/12/2013
The drafting of the application should be such that it points towards the specific documents required in relation to the information sought.
An extract from the section for information seekers in the 2013 guide.

FOR INFORMATION SEEKERS 

Method of Seeking Information 

A citizen, who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an application to the Public Information Officer of the concerned public authority in writing in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made. The application should be precise and specific. He should make payment of application fee at the time of submitting the application as prescribed in the RTI Rules, 2012. The applicant can send the application by post or through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the public authority. The application can also be sent through an Assistant Public Information Officer.  

Application to the concerned Public Authority 

2. The applicant should make application to the Public Information Officer of the concerned public authority. He should make all efforts to ascertain as to which the public authority is concerned with the information. If the information sought by an applicant is related to different PIOs in a Public Authority or is related to different Public authorities, the supply of information is likely to take a lot more time than if the information sought is related to a single PIO in one Public Authority.  

3. The applicant should not list out his grievances in the RTI application but should clearly mention which information or record he would like to seek. Further, if  the drafting of the application is such that it pin points towards the specific documents required in relation to the information sought, there would be less scope of ambiguity, thereby resulting in less chances of denial of information by the Public Information Officer. For example instead of simply asking why my area is not being cleaned, cleaning schedule of the area should be asked. Similarly, instead of asking when we will get water supply, water supply planning of the area should be asked.    

Fee for Seeking Information 

4. Along with the application, the applicant should send application fee to the Public Information Officer. In case of Government of India, the prescribed application fee is Rs. 10/- which can be paid through a demand draft or a banker’s cheque or an Indian Postal Order payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority. The payment of fee 19 can also be made by way of cash to the public authority or to the Assistant Public Information Officer against proper receipt. In case of online applications to Central Ministries/departments, fee can be paid online through internet banking of State Bank of India or through Master/Visa credit/debit cards. 

5. The applicant may also be required to pay further fee towards the cost of providing the information, details of which shall be intimated to the applicant by the Public Information Officer. The fee so demanded can be paid the same way as application fee.  

6. If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, he is not required to pay any fee. However, he should submit a proof in support of his claim as belonging to the below poverty line category. The application not accompanied by the prescribed application fee or proof of the applicant’s belonging to below poverty line category, as the case may be, shall not be a valid application under the Act.    

Format of Application 

7. There is no prescribed format of application for seeking information. The application can be made on a plain paper. The applicant should mention the address at which the information is required to be sent. The information seeker is not required to give reasons for seeking information.    

Filing of Appeal

8. An applicant can file an appeal to the first appellate authority if the information is not supplied to him within the prescribed time of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be, or is not satisfied with the information furnished to him. Such an appeal should be filed within a period of thirty days from the date on which the limit of 30 days of supply of information is expired or from the date on which the information or decision of the Public Information Officer is received. The first appellate authority of the public authority shall dispose of the appeal within a period of thirty days or in exceptional cases within 45 days of the receipt of the appeal. 

9. If the first appellate authority fails to pass an order on the appeal within the prescribed period or if the appellant is not satisfied with the order of the first appellate authority, he may prefer a second appeal with the Information Commission within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made by the first appellate authority or was actually received by the appellant. 

10. The appeal made to the Central Information Commission should contain the following information: - 

(i) Name and address of the appellant; 20

(ii) Name and address of the Public Information Officer to whom the application was addressed;

(iii) Name and address of the Public Information Officer who gave reply to the application;

(iv) Name and address of the First Appellate Authority who decided the first appeal;

(v) Particulars of the application;

(vi) Particulars of the order including number, if any, against which the appeal is preferred;

(vii) Brief facts leading to the appeal;

(viii) Prayer or relief sought;

(ix) Grounds for prayer or relief;

(x) Any other information relevant to the appeal;

(xi) Verification/authentication by the appellant. 

11. The appeal made to the Central Information Commission should be accompanied by the following documents, duly authenticated and verified by the appellant, namely: 

(i) a copy of the application submitted to the CPIO;

(ii) a copy of the reply received, if any , from the CPIO;

(iii) a copy of the appeal made to the FAA;

(iv) a copy of the order received, if any, from the FAA;

(v) Copies of other documents relied upon by the appellant and referred to in his appeal; and 

(vi) an index of the documents referred to in the appeal.    

Filing of Complaints 

12. A person can make a complaint to the Information Commission if he is unable to submit a request to a Public Information Officer either by reason that such an officer has not been appointed by the concerned public authority; or the Assistant Public Information Officer has refused to accept his or her application or appeal for forwarding the same to the Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be; or he has been refused access to any information requested by him under the RTI Act; or he has not been given a response to a request for information within the time limit specified in the Act; or he has been required to pay an amount of fee which he considers unreasonable; or he believes that he has been given incomplete, misleading or false information.

Read full Guide to Right to Information Act, 2005 here:

http://ccis.nic.in/WriteReadData/CircularPortal/D2/D02rti/Guide_2013-issue.pdf

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