WHAT IS RTI AND HOW TO FILE IT?
The word RTI stands for Right to Information and it is an act of the Parliament of India which sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizen’s right to information. It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The RTI Bill was passed by Parliament of India on 15 June 2005 and came into force with effect from 12th October 2005. Every day on an average, over 4800 RTI applicants are filed. In the first ten years of the commencement of the act over 17,500,000 applications had been filed.
The citizens can seek any information from the government authorities that the government can disclose to the parliament. Some information that can affect the sovereignty and the integrity of India is exempted from purview of RTI. Information relating to internal security, relations with foreign countries, intellectual property rights, cabinets discussions are exempted from RTI.
The objectives of the RTI Act are as follows:-
- Empower citizens to question the government.
- The act promotes transparency and accountability in working of the government.
- The act also helps in containing corruption in government and work for the people in better way.
- The act envisages building better informed citizens who would keep necessary vigil about the functioning of the government machinery.
Important provisions under the Rights to Information Act, 2005 are as follows;-
- Section 2(h) deals with public authorities meaning all authorities and bodies under the union and state government or local bodies. The civil societies that are substantially funded, directly or indirectly by the public funds also fall within the ambit of RTI.
- Section 4 1(b) says government has to maintain and proactively disclose information.
- Section 6 of the act prescribes a simple procedure for securing information.
- Section 7 prescribes a time frame by providing information by PIOs.
- Section 8 mentions only minimum information exempted from disclosure.
- Section 8 (1) mentions exemptions against furnishing information under the RTI Act.
- Section 8 (2) provides for disclosure of information exempted under the official secrets act 1923 if the larger public interest is served.
- Section 19 says that the act has two tier mechanism to appeal.
- Section 20 provides penalties in case of failure to provide information on time, incorrect, incomplete or misleading or distorted information.
- Section 23 says that lower courts are barred from entertaining suits or applications.
The RTI Act 2005 empowers the citizen to question the secrecy and abuse of power practised in governance. It is through the information commissions at the central and state levels that access to such information is provided. RTI information can be regarded as a public good for it is relevant to the interests of citizens and is crucial pillar for the functioning of a transparent and vibrant democracy. The information obtained not only helps in making government accountable but also useful for other purposes which would serve the overall interests of the society. Every year, around six million applications are filed under the RTI Act making it the most extensively used sunshine legislation globally. These applications seek information on a range of issues, from holding the government accountable for the delivery of basic rights and entitlements to questioning the highest offices of the country. Using the RTI Act people have sought information that governments would not like to reveal as it may expose corruption, human rights violations and wrong doing by the state. The access to information about policies, decisions and actions of the government that affect the lives of citizens is an instrument to ensure accountability.
The Supreme Court has, in several judgments, held that the RTI is a fundamental right flowing from Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee to citizens the freedom of speech and expression and the right to life, respectively.
One of the major set-back to the act is that poor record keeping within the bureaucracy results in missing files. There is a lack of staffing to run the information commissions. The supplementary laws are diluted, this further reduces the effect of RTI applications.
For filing RTI offline one at first has to identify the department in which one wishes to file the plea and find out if it comes under the scope of the local authority, state or central government. Write or type out the application either in Hindi or English or in the local language of the area. Address the application to the concerned state or central Public Information Officer and mention on seeking information in the subject line. Put the request in the form of a detailed and specific question mentioning the year or period the plea falls in. If required, one can also seek a document or its excerpt which will be charged at a nominal fee of Rs 2 per page. To file the request one must pay Rs 1o in cash or digitally. Mention your full name, address, contact details and email address and the name of the town and date. One can send the application by mail or hand it over at the office personally.
For filing the RTI online one needs to visit the RTI website and click on the submit request button. One will see the form asking to fill in the necessary details, select the department and fill in the contact details. One can type the details in about 3000 characters and can also attach a PDF file that does not exceeds 1 MB, pay the fee Rs 10 digitally. One will get an acknowledgement with a registration number once the payment is done. It is also possible to make a request via email and can check the RTI page to see the status of the request.
As per the RTI Act mandate, the concerned office must response to the request within 30 days. Further to this, the person making an RTI plea can also file an appeal to The Appellate Authority which must also respond within 30 days.
Thank You. JAI HIND.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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