Everybody has right to information. Right to know or Right to Information has been given to us under Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution. Right to know has been held to be a basic right. A citizen of India who wants any information from Central or State Government can file RTI and the respective government has an obligation to pay heed and respond to the citizen’s application within the limited timeframe.
Any information such as reasons for delay in issuance of passports or delay in issue of license can be sought by making an application to RTI. RTI application can be filed through both online and offline mode.
Important facts about filing RTI
- Every public authority has to maintain the records which facilitates the Right to Information.
- According to Section 2(j) of RTI Act, 2005, Right to Information includes, 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.
- According to the RTI Act, all materials shall be disseminated taking into consideration the cost effectiveness, local language and the most effective method of communication in that local area and the information should be easily accessible.[i]
- An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.[ii]
- Payment in the procedure of filing RTI application through online mode can be done in following ways:
- Internet banking of SBI and its associate banks;
- Debit/credit cards of Master/Visa;
- RuPay cards[iii]
- According to Section 7 (1) of the Act, the concerned officer to whom the RTI application is filed, is required to provide the information on payment of fees within 30 days of the receipt of request or where the information concerns the life and liberty of person it shall be provided within 48 hours of the receipt of request.
In N.N. Dhumane v. PIO, Department of Posts (CIC, 2018), it was held that payment of pension relates to the life and liberty of applicant so these cass should be disposed off within 48 hours of the application.
- Appeal can be made in case the application has been rejected or no response has been given by the public authority. Appeal can be made in the following manner under Section 19:
- The first appeal is to be made within 30 days from the expiry of period in which the decision should have been made or receipt of such decision as the case maybe.
- The second appeal is to be made within 90 days from the expiry of period in which the decision should have been made in first appeal or receipt of such decision as the case maybe.
- As per Section 20 of the RTI Act, 2005, the penalty for not paying attention to the application or providing wrong information is two hundred and fifty rupees and shall not exceed twenty five thousand rupees.
Information which may not be provided through RTI Act [iv]
According to Section 8 of Right to Information Act, 2005, there is no obligation to provide the citizens information regarding the following:
- 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;
- 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 Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information
- if the public interest disclosure outweighs the harm.
In Smt. Sunita Jain v. Pawan Kumar Jain and others, the wife filed a case of maintenance against her husband under Crpc and she filed an application to seek information under Right to Information Act, 2005. She wanted the information regarding the salary details of her husband. So the Central Information Commissioner asked the employer BSNL to give the details but this order was challenged by the husband as well as BSNL company. They contended that information cannot be provided because it’s disclosure is exempted according to Section 8(j) of RTI Act, 2005. Madhya Pradesh High Court held that wife is entitled to know the salary details of her husband.
Filing RTI Application online
- Application can be filed by visiting the website https://rtionline.gov.in/. It is an official website for the Centre.
- For registration, after visiting the page, click on “Sign up here”
- A form will open in which the applicant has to fill in the basic details such as name, address, pin code, email id, etc. After filling the form, click on ‘Submit’.
- After this, the applicant will receive an Activation key on the email and after clicking “Login in“, an account will be created through which the person can file the application form. It will show the number of applications and appeals filed by the applicant.
- However, the registration before filing application is not mandatory.
- Applicant has to click on “Submit Request” on the Home page of website https://rtionline.gov.in/. It would open the guidelines for use of RTI online Portal. There guidelines should be read by the applicant before marking the tick and clicking on ‘Submit’.
- The application form is to be filled. The prescribed column is confined to 3000 characters only and in case the application has more than 3000 characters then it can be uploaded as an attachment by using column, “Supporting document”.[v]
- An application fees is to be paid by the applicant. There is no fee for people who come under the category of BPL (Below Poverty Line). However, the applicant must attach a copy of the certificate issued by the appropriate government in this regard, alongwith the application.[vi]
- After the payment, the applicant will receive a Unique Registration Number with the help of which the applicant can track the status of RTI.
- For the additional fees, the notification will be made by the Central Public Information Officer through RTI portal.
- The status of the application can be checked by clicking on “View Status”.
- If no response is given within 30 days or within 48 hours in case the matter is significant to the life and liberty of applicant or the applicant is not satisfied with the response then he/she can file appeal.
Filing RTI Application Offline
- Section 6 of RTI Act, 2005 says that RTI Application can be drafted on a page in Hindi, English or any local language. It can be handwritten or typed. It should be addressed to Central Public Information or State Public Information Officer. Name of the department from which information is required is to be mentioned.
- After this, the questions are to be mentioned for which the information is needed by the applicant. The applicant fees can be paid in cash. bank draft, money order, etc. There is no fee for the applicants who come in the category of BPL (Below Poverty Line). At the end, the contact details of the applicant are to be mentioned which include the name, address, mobile number, email id, etc. Applicant can send RTI Application along with the proof of payment of application fee to the concerned department through e-mail or can hand it over to the department.[vii]
Filing First Appeal [viii]
- Appeal can be filed by filing the page which opens after clicking on ” Submit First Appeal” on website https://rtionline.gov.in/.
- The Registration number which was used for the original application has to be written.
- There is no fees for making the First Appeal.
- Mobile number is to be written for receiving the notifications regarding the appeal.
- The status of appeal can be checked by clicking on “View Status”.
Filing Second Appeal
If the applicant is not satisfied with the first appeal then he/she can file second appeal to the Commission. Rule 8 of Right to Information Rules, 2012 specifies the format of the Second Appeal. The appeal should contain the following information:
1. Name and address or the appellant
2. Name and address of the Central Public Information Officer to whom the application was addressed
3. Name and address of the Central Public Information Officer who gave reply to the Application
4. Name and address of the First Appellate Authority Who decided the First Appeal
5. Particulars of the application
6. Particulars of the order(s) including number, if any, against which the appeal is preferred
7. Brief facts leading to the appeal
8. Prayer or relief sought
9. Grounds for the prayer or relief
10. Any other information relevant to the appeal
11. Verification/authentication by the appellant
According to Rule 8, the appeal should be accompanied by the some documents, duly authenticated and verified by the appellant otherwise as per Rule 9 the appeal would be returned for removing the deficiencies. The documents which are to be attached are following:
- a copy of the application submitted to the Central Public Information Officer;
- a copy of the reply received, if any, from the Central Public Information Officer;
- a copy of the appeal made to the First Appellate Authority;
- a copy of the Order received, if any, from the First Appellate Authority;
- copies of other documents relied upon by the appellant and referred to in his appeal; and
- an index of the documents referred to in the appeal.
Latest Amendments in RTI Act
There are some important amendments made in the provisions of RTI Act. Lok Sabha passed the bill on 22nd July, 2019 while Rajya Sabha passed it on 25th July, 2019. The amendments are as follows:
- According to Section 13 and Section 16 of RTI Act, earlier the Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioner had the tenure of 5 years or upto 65 years, whichever is earlier. But now according to the amendment, the tenure of office will be decided by the Central Government.
- According to Section 13(5), earlier the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner was in par with the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner respectively but after the amendment the Central Government will decide the salaries, allowances and other service rules.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] Right to Information Act, 2005, Section 4(4)
[ii] Right to Information Act, 2005, Section 6(2)
[iv] Right to Information Act, 2005, Section 8
[v] Supra note iii
[vi] Supra note iii
[viii] Supra note iii