The Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India “to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens.” Simply put, it allows citizens of the country to request information from any public authority about its work, actions, etc. The Act aims at promoting transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.The Act extends to the whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Act prescribes a simple procedure to obtain information. Though some public authorities have their own formats, there is no compulsion to stick to the prescribed format.
How to file an RTI ?
- Step 1: Identify the department you want the information from. Some subjects fall under the purview of State governments or local authority such as the municipal administration/panchayat, while others are handled by the Central government.
- Step 2: On a sheet of white paper, write out the application by hand, or type it, in English, Hindi or the official language of the area. You can also ask the public information officer to put it in writing.
- Step 3: Address the application to the State/Central Public Information Officer. Write the name of the office from which you seek information, and the complete, correct address. Clearly mention ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005’ in your subject line.
- Step 4: State your request in the form of specific, detailed questions, and mention the period/year your request falls into. Ask for documents or extracts of documents, if required. To obtain documents, the applicant has to make a payment of Rs. 2 per page.
- Step 5: Pay Rs. 10 to file the plea. This can be done in the form of cash, money order, bank draft or a court fee stamp. The stamp should be affixed to the application. Applicants below the poverty line (BPL) need not make the payment but have to attach a copy of the BPL certificate along with the application.
- Step 6: Provide your full name and address, contact details, email address and sign the application clearly. Put in the date and the name of your town.
- Step 7: Take a photocopy of the application and keep one with you for future reference. Send your application by post or hand it in personally to the department concerned. Don’t forget to get an acknowledgment.
- Step 8: The law mandates that information be provided within 30 days. If this does not happen, you can file an appeal. The first appeal should be addressed to ‘The Appellate Authority’ with the name of the department and the address. The appellate authority is mandated to revert in 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. If the Appellate authority fails to reply, further appeals lie with the Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner, State/Central Information Commission.
It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed.The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.
NOTE: Now it is possible to file RTI online also. Visit this link for filing an RTI online.
Download RTI Act 2005 here
Aalok Kumar Jha is Research Associate at Lawlex, and is pursuing B.B.A., LL,B. (Hons.) from Galgotias University.