Guide For the Information Seekers Under the Right to Information Act, 2005
Object of the Right to Information Act
The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. An informed citizenry will be better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of government and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act has created a practical regime through which the citizens of the country may have access to information under the control of public authorities.
What is Information
Information is any material in any form. It includes records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form. It also includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public authority under any law for the time being in force.
Right to Information under the Act
Exemptions from Disclosure
The right to seek information from a public authority is not absolute. Sections 8 and 9 of the Act enumerate the categories of information which are exempt from disclosure. At the same time Schedule II of the Act contains the names of the Intelligence and Security Organisations which are exempt from the purview of the Act. The exemption of the organization, however, does not cover supply of information relating to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
The applicants should abstain from seeking information which is exempt under Section 8 and 9 and also from the organizations included in the Second Schedule except information relating to allegations of corruption and human right violations.
Central Public Information Officers
Application for seeking information should be made to an officer of the public authority who is designated as Central Public Information Officer (CPIO). All the public authorities have designated their Central Public Information Officer and have posted their particulars on their respective web-sites. This information is also available on the ‘RTI PORTAL’ (www.rti.gov.in). Persons seeking information are advised to refer to the web-site of the concerned public authority of the ‘RIT PORTAL’ for ascertaining the name of the concerned CPIO. If it is found difficult to identify or locate the concerned Central Public Information Officer of a public authority, application may be sent to the Central Public Information Officer without specifying the name of the CPOI at the address of the public authority.
Assistance Available From CPIOs
The Central Public Information Officer shall render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking information. If a person is unable to make a request in writing, he may seek the help of the CPIO to write his application. Where a decision is taken to give access to a sensorily disabled person to any document, the Central Public Information Officer, shall provided such assistance to enable access to information, including providing such assistance to the person as may be appropriate for the inspection.
Suo Motu Disclosure
The Act makes it obligatory for every public authority to make suo-motu disclosure in respect of the particulars of its organization, functions, duties etc. as provided in section 4 of the Act. Besides, some public authorities under the Central Government have published other information and have posted them on their websites.
Method of Seeking Information
A citizen who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an application to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) 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 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 a Central Assistant Public Information Officer appointed by the Department of Post at sub-divisional level or other sub-district level.
Fee for Seeking Information
The applicant, along with the application, should send a demand draft or a banker’s cheque or an Indian Postal Order of Rs10/- (Rupees ten), payable to the Accounts Office of the public authority as fee prescribed for seeking information. The payment of fee can also be made by way of cash to the Account Officer of the Public authority or to the Central Assistant Public Information Officer against proper receipt.
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 CPIO as prescribed by the Right Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005. Rates of fee as prescribed in the Rules are given below:
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 to belong to the below poverty line. The application not accompanied by the prescribed fee of Rs.10/- or proof of the applicant’s belonging to below poverty line, as the case may be, shall not be a valid application under the Act and therefore, does not entitle the applicant to get information.
Format of Application
There is no prescribed form of application for seeking information. the application can be made or plain paper. The application should, however, have the name and complete postal address of the applicant. Even in cases where the information is sought electronically, the application should contain name and postal address of the applicant.
The information seeker is not required to give reasons for seeking information.
Disposal of the Request
If an applicant is not supplied information within the prescribed time thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be, is not satisfied with the information furnished to him, be may prefer an appeal to the first appellate authority who is an officer senior in rank to the CPIO. Such an appeal, should be filed within a period or thirty days from the date on which the limit of 30 days of supply of information is expired or from the data on which the information or decision of the CPIO is received.
The appellate authority of the public authority shall dispose of the appeal within a period of thirty days or in exceptional cases with 45 days of the receipt of the appeal.
If the 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 Central Informational Commission within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have bee made by the first appellate authority or was actually received by the appellant. The appeal made to the Central Informational Commission should contain the following information:-
The appeal made to the Central Informational Commission should be accompanied by the following documents:
If any person is unable to submit a request to a Central Public information Officer either by reason that such an officer has not been appointed by the concerned public authority; or the Central Assistant Central Public information Officer has refused to accept his or her application or appeal for forwarding the same to the Central 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, he can make a complaint to the Central information Commission.
Disposal of Appeals and Complaints by the CIC
The Central information Commission decided the appeals and complaints and conveys its decision to the appellant/complainant and first appellate authority/CPIO. The Commission may decide an appeal/complaint after hearing the parties to the appeal/complaint or by inspection of documents produced by the appeal/complaint and CPIO or such senior officer of the public authority who decided the first appeal. If the Commission will inform of the date of hearing to the applicant or the complainant at least seven clear days before the date of hearing. The appeal/complaint has the discretion to be present in person or through his authorized representative at the time of hearing or may opt not to be present.
Given below are the addresses of some important web-sites which contain substantial information relevant to the right to information: