The Right To Information Act (RTI) stands among the most versatile acts of the Indian Parliament. The RTI is one of the few fundamental rights an Indian citizen holds which gives him the power to know how the tax payers’ money is being utilized by the government.
The primary objective of the RTI Act is to empower the citizens of India, provide transparency and above all, make the government accountable to its people. This act mandates that a timely response must be given which makes it the most powerful fundamental right in our country. There are few prime things one has to know about the RTI.
- Every citizen, irrespective of caste, creed and gender maintains the right to claim information from the government authorities.
- The RTI Act applies to the whole of India, except Jammu & Kashmir.
- Except for matters relating to national security, personal information and third party information, information about everything else can be accessed through the RTI.
- In case an RTI does not receive a response in a timely manner, the Indian Government can impose a fine of upto INR 25,000 or recommend disciplinary proceedings against the official guilty of failing to respond to the RTI.
Being classified as a fundamental act, the procedure to file an RTI has been kept quite simple making it easy for our citizens to file one without much ado. Here are the steps involved in filing an RTI.
The subject you have in mind may fall under the State Government, Central Government or a local Municipality. Please keep in mind that if it is a matter that requires discretion, you may not get access to it.
Draft your RTI on a plain white sheet of paper. It can either be written or typed in Hindi, English or any other local language used in your region. If it is handwritten, please make sure the text is clearly visible and does not lead to any confusions.
Your RTI must be addressed to the State/Central Public Information Officer. Write the name of the department from which you wish to obtain information. You are required to clearly mention that you seek information “under the RTI Act, 2005”.
The questions you wish to get answers for must be clearly written out. Make your questions as detailed as possible. It would be ideal if you mention the year or the period in which your request falls under. You are also permitted to ask for relevant documents or excerpts from documents. However, this requires an additional fee or INR 2/- per document.
As of now, the fee for filing an RTI is fixed at INR 10/-. This payment can be made in cash, bank draft, money order or court fee Stamp. Such a stamp must be placed on the application. The fee is not applicable to individuals falling under the BPL (Below Poverty Line) category. For them, there is no fee. A copy of the BPL certificate must be attached to the application to receive this concession.
As the RTI is an Act which calls for a response, do not forget to mention your contact details including your full name, permanent address, phone number and email address. Place your signature, date and place at the bottom.
It is highly recommended that you keep a photocopy of the RTI you prepared for future references. Once you have the RTI ready and a copy kept away safely, you can post your RTI via mail or hand it over to the appropriate department in person.
The law mandates that a response to an RTI must be given in no less than 30 days or 48 hours if it concerns an individual’s freedom/life. Should you not receive a reply to your RTI, there is an appellate structure in place to help you speed up things. Your first appeal should be placed to the Appellate Authority. The Appellate Authority is mandated by law to respond within 30 days. Should the Appellate Authority fail to provide you with a reply, waste no time contemplating further. Write to the Chief Information Commissioner or the Central/State Information Commission.
The Federal Government of India has now begun accepting requests online as per a freedom of information law. However, the online service does not take into consideration the ministries or the state governments.
RTI Application Form
The RTI application form is quite straightforward where applicants simply need to provide contact information as well as few personal details like gender or their literacy or whether they are below or above the poverty line. After that, there is a box for typing out the request regarding type of information wanted.
RTI application form may be filed only by the citizens of India as is mentioned in the form in red according to 2005 Act. It has been found that sometimes the form seems confusing as there is lack of explicit instructions written and available which confuses many people and to even those who have designed this online portal.
What can be filed for?
When one files RTI application form, he is authorized to ask questions to the government. There are several kinds of applications handled like passport delays, Life insurance, PF related, Land and Property, Defense forces, Central and state exams, State and Central banks etc.
Filing and Processing
The online RTI form filing procedure has been made easy and one can the details and his query and the rest is done on its own. There is a process for scrutinizing the request by the team drafted and if they are satisfied then the end product is posted to the designated address.
The personal tracking number is provided to the applicant in order to know his location of delivery. This tracking process is easy to use and is hassle free. Online RTI takes into consideration the satisfaction of the applicant and is given first preference.
The satisfaction of the applicant is most important thing considered so that his voice may be heard by the government. It is taken care of that the end product reaching people is as per their requirements.
How does RTI online work?
There is drafting of the RTI application form which is done first and then, the PIO address is found to get the IPO order and then, it is sent through speed post. There are different rules followed by different state governments. If something goes wrong, then one can apply further as there is always a room left open for improvement. There is an appeal process also in case of dissatisfaction.
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