Know Your right to Information

What is RTI?

The right to information is a fundamental right guaranteed under article 19(1) of the Indian constitution. The right to information act was enacted in the year 2005 to ensure that ordinary people could obtain the required information. With the help of right to information ordinary people can question the working of the government and any other institution. The public departments have officers designated for providing such information called as Public Information Officers (PIO). On the other hand, government must be transparent and accountable to the citizens. The citizens therefore have a right to know how the government meant to serve them is functioning. For example, every citizen pays tax in the form of sales tax, income tax etc. Therefore, the citizens have the right to know how their money is being spent. The information demanded needs to be furnished within 30 days, failing which the officer concerned may be slapped with a fine.

Requirements of an RTI Application

RTI Act specifies certain requirements to be fulfilled while filing an RTI application. These are:

a) The applicant should be a citizen of India.

b) The application should contain the particulars of the information sought. The applicant does not need to give the reason for seeking such information.

c) The proof of payment of application fee should be enclosed.

d) The applicant should provide an address for receiving the response of the application.

What Information can be exempted from an RTI?

The right to information is not an absolute right given to the citizens of India. There are certain types of information which can be exempted from the scope of an RTI. These types of information have been mentioned under sections 8 and 9 and second schedule of the RTI Act, 2005. This exemption mainly involves sensitive information relating to issues like matters related to internal security, foreign discussions, cabinet meetings, etc. The citizens cannot seek information related to matters like these.

Procedure to File an RTI.

To file an RTI under the RTI Act, 2005, there are two prescribed ways:

1. Online RTI Application

2. Offline RTI Application

Online RTI Application

Filing of an RTI Application online is an easy and a quick way.

1. The applicants need to go to the RTI online website. There they can read the instructions and guidelines provided for using the online RTI portal.

2. Now, the applicants need to fill the entire online RTI form with all the details of the information sought. If, the applicant is not aware about the exact public authority, then they can search for the concerned public authority.

3. After filing the form, the applicants need to make a payment of Rs.10 which can be made through online banking, debit card or credit card. In case the applicant is from below poverty line, then they are exempted from paying the fee and need to attach a scanned copy of the BPL certificate as proof for the same.

4. After successful payment, the applicants will receive a registration number which can be used to check the status of the application in future.

The procedure is complete and the applicant receive an email and a SMS on the submission of application.

Offline RTI Application

In case of absence of a computer and internet an RTI Application can be submitted through postal mail or directly at the concerned office. The procedure for filing an RTI Application offline is as under:

1. The application needs to be written. It can either be handwritten or can be typed in English, Hindi or the official language of the area. The subject line should be “Seeking information under RTI Act, 2005”. Usually there is no specific format for an RTI, but some states have a certain format, which is to be followed while writing an RTI Application.

2. The application should be addressed to the Public Information Officer (PIO) or Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) and the proper address of the concerned department should be given. Also, the applicants should give their proper details like name, email, date, address so that they can receive the response of the application with ease.

3. After writing the application, payment of Rs.10 needs to be made for filing it. Citizens belonging to below poverty line are exempted from the payment and need to attach a copy of the BPL certificate with the application as proof.

4. The completed application can be sent by post or directly delivered at the concerned department.

How much time it takes to receive information sought under RTI Act?

v The information must be received in 30 days if the application is filed with the PIO.

v In case of filing the application with the APIO, information must be received within 35 days.

v In case the information affects the life and liberty of an individual, the information has to be made available within 48 hours.

What if an RTI Application is not accepted by the PIO or APIO?

If a concerned officer refuses to take an RTI Application, a formal complaint can be made under section 18 and a penalty of up to Rs.25,000 can be imposed on that officer by the concerned Information Commission.

What if the information sought is not provided within the given time or the applicants are not satisfied with the information provided by the public authority?

If the applicants are not satisfied with the information provided by the public authority, then an appeal known as first appeal can be filed to an officer of the same department, senior in rank to the PIO, designated in every public authority to hear appeals and is referred to as First Appellate Authority (FAA). The first appeal can be made within 30 days of receiving the information from the public authority or at the expiry period of the time within which information should have been provided. The first appeal can be submitted by post or by directly handing the documents to the concerned FAA or it can be filed online. In case the applicants are not satisfied even with the decision of the FAA, then a second appeal can be filed within 90 days of receiving the decision of the FAA or at the expiry of the time by which decision should have been received. The appeal is to be made to the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission which have been set up at centre and state level respectively to hear complains and second appeals. The procedure for filing the second appeal is same as for the first appeal.

Published on 13th August, 2021


'Know the Law' is part of YLF's wider legal awareness initiative and aims to provide simplified legal literature to the public.

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