Right To Information Act: Your guide to filing an RTI
RTI has been used by many people the country-over to gain information, and has in the process become a very useful tool to fight corruption. Here is the complete guide to filing an RTI.
As a citizen, you have the right to know about how the government is going about improving your living conditions. The RTI Act entitles you to receive all the information you need from government departments and it's time for more widespread use, especially in Bangalore. This is how you can file an RTI application.
What is information?
It is any document, record, electronic record, CD, files etc related to government functioning. An RTI application is like a letter stating the information required by citizen and addressed to PIO, Public Information Officer of the appropriate department.
RTI is applicable on any public authority as given below
1. Any central or state government department, ministry, institution etc. e.g. Income tax dept, finance ministry, passport office, municipality, police, courts etc
2. Any Public Sector Unit (PSU) like ONGC, HAL, BHEL, NTPC etc. Any Public Sector Bank (PSB) like SBI, etc
3. Any NGO or institution with substantial financial support from government. So this will cover NGO which get aid from government. E.g. BIAL, Bangalore International Airport Ltd was deemed to be a public authority since it had some funding from government too.
What is Public Information Officer (PIO)?
PIO is the person responsible in a department for receiving RTI applications, and sending responses, or rejecting applications if applicable. PIO is liable for penalty of Rs 250 per day in case of delay beyond 30 days, or even disciplinary action if information is delayed or denied on no just grounds, or with malafide intention. This can happen only after appeal filed by applicant, which will be discussed in later sessions. Click here to locate your Central Government PIO's.
Constituents of an RTI application
1. Name and address of applicant.
2. Name and address of PIO
3. Particulars of information required
4. Postal order, draft, cash etc
Click here to download the sample RTI application
How to go about solving a problem using RTI
1. State a personal or public problem area which you need to solve.
2. Find the department responsible for that area.
3. Find the address of PIO responsible for that area.
4. Draft an RTI application addressed to PIO.
5. Enclose a postal order (of Rs 10 in most cases) addressed to PIO and send letter by registered or speed post to the PIO. Postal order is most convenient since it can be purchased in bulk at a post office, and then one can file RTIs one by one.
6. Wait for 30 days for response. If response is not received within 30 days or rejected, you can file appeal. (The details of appeal, complaint etc will be taken in later sessions).
Click here to see the format of RTI application
Right way to frame questions
1.Be very specific and ask to the point questions. Don't ask vague questions.
2. Ask as many short questions as you like, but don't ask for voluminous information.
3.Ask information always by writing your name and signature, and not by your post, as only citizen have the right to information.
4.Do not ask a question containing 'WHY'! For example, questions like why you failed to pass the bill, is liable to be rejected for not covering under RTI Act.
5.You can ask for reasons behind a "administrative" or a "quasi-judicial" decision under Section 4(1)(d), especially if you are a "affected person"
6. If the information sought is voluminous, it is better to ask it in the form of CD to save on cost.
7. Also, you do not need to write the reason for asking the information.
8. Mention the payment details like BC/DD/IPO number, issuing bank/post office, date, cash receipt details , etc, towards the end of your application
RTI Rules of government departments
There are general central and state rules regarding procedure, payment under RTI Act. Also a department can have specific rules of its own under RTI act.
1. E.g. the general rules for Karnataka state that Rs 10 is the fees for RTI applications.
2. Specific departments can have their own rules also. E.g. Karnataka High Court has its own rules regarding cost of supplying information per page. Also, it accepts fees only in cash so one has to go in person to file RTI.
3. The state of Karnataka has recently passed an amendment to its RTI rules restricting the RTI application to one subject matter and to 150 words.
Designated Post Offices:
In order to facilitate citizens in filing RTI applications, the government has designated certain Post Offices for accepting RTI applications addressed to Public Authorities (PA's) under Central Government. These cannot be used for submitting RTI Applications addressed to State PA's, Legislatures, Courts, etc.
A list of designated Post Offices is available here: KARNATAKA POSTAL CIRCLE
There are many caveats and clauses and conditions that apply, to know more you can you can find details here - rtiindia.org (use this to Search for the appropriate Ministry/organization and their corresponding RTI websites) and http://deveshwar.in/RTI