Throughout the world, the right to information is seen by many as the key to strengthening participatory democracy and ensuring more people-centered development. Nearly 70 countries around the world have now adopted comprehensive Freedom of Information Acts to facilitate access to records held by government bodies and another fifty have pending efforts. In India also, the Government enacted Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005 which came into force w.e.f. October 12, 2005.
“Right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to –
- taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;
- inspection of work, documents, 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; [Section 2(j)]
People who can file an RTI
An RTI application can be filed by any citizen of India. If you are an Indian citizen and wish to seek some information from a government body, you are eligible to be an RTI applicant.
Bodies/Organization that can be asked for Information under RTI
Under the Right to Information Act 2005, you can ask for information from any public authority. Public authorities are all central, state and local level bodies which are set up under the constitution. In simple terms, all government bodies are public authorities. Even the bodies which are substantially financed by the Central or State Government fall under the category of public authorities.
Filing an RTI Application
The online method makes it extremely easy to file RTIs and also makes it easier to appeal against the order on such application. Unfortunately, this service, for now, is only available for Central Government Departments and Ministries including the PMO, the Secretariat of the President and the Vice-President and Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The following steps will guide you through filing of RTI application online:
- Identify the department from which you are seeking information from. You can use the respective website of the department or a do a quick research in order to make sure you file the application with the right department.
- Visit https://rtionline.gov.in/ On the Home-Page of the website, you will find an option for the login of Registered Users. Please note that registration is not mandatory, you can choose to register or move directly to the “Submit Request” option.
- Click on the “Submit Request” tab and go through the guidelines for the use of the RTI online portal. Once done, click on the “I have read and understood the above guideline” checkmark and click on “Submit.”
- Fill out the form. The form consists of the options to choose the department of the central government and the public authority. Then it requires mostly personal details. Do not forget to provide a working email id and phone number. In the “Text for RTI Request application” text box you need to provide the questions about the subject upon which you seek information. The said text box has a 3000 character limit. In order to put in more text, you can click and attached supporting documents through the “supporting document” option below the text box.
- The form is not processed until the payment is made. A nominal fee of INR 10 needs to be paid, which can be done through a credit or debit card, or through internet banking. If you have an account with a state bank, the process gets even simpler.
- You can now make the payment from you RuPay cards. Once the payment is made you are provided a Registration ID along with the receipt. You must have the receipt for future reference. The Registration ID will provide you access to your application and the reply.
The Offline Method of RTI application is a little complicated but is easy none the less. The steps involved are as follows.
- Like in the case of online application you need to first identify the government and the authority from which you seek the information.
- Once the above step is complete, you need to address an application on a white sheet of paper to the “Public Information Officer” of such authority or department, followed by the name and address of the department.
- In the Subject line of the application mention this line “Seeking Information under the RTI Act, 2005.”
- You must enlist all such points in the form of questions upon which you wish to receive information. Include details if you need specific information such as dates and years.
- Once the application is complete, do not forget to mention the date of the application and the details of the postal order of Rupees 10 which you need to attach along with the application. These Postal Orders can be obtained from any post office in India mostly before 3 PM. Also, the people below poverty line are not required to attach the postal order or make the fee payment, but they must attach a copy of the BPL Certificate.
- Sign the Application form with your full name and address along with the date and send it through a registered post to the office of the concerned authority.
- If a reply is not received within 30 days, an appeal can be filed with the Appellate Authority.
Time Period Expected to get a reply
The set time period for information to reach the RTI applicant is within 30 days of the public authority receiving the application. If however, the information concerns the life and liberty of a person, it must be supplied within 48 hours.
EXEMPTION FROM DISCLOSURE
Certain categories of information have been exempted from disclosure under the Act. These are:
- Where disclosure prejudicially affects 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 by any court or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
- Where disclosure would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
- Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, where disclosure would harm competitive position of a third party, or available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless larger public interest so warrants;
- Information received in confidence from a foreign government;
- Information the disclosure of which endangers life or physical safety of any person or identifies confidential source of information or assistance;
- Information that 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
Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over.
- list of departments- http://gov.bih.nic.in/governance/deptrti.htm
- Department of India post- https://www.indiapost.gov.in/VAS/Pages/RTI/RTI.aspx
- Department of Telecommunication- http://www.dot.gov.in/right-to-information
- Department of Defence- https://mod.gov.in/dod/right-information
- Department of Health and Family Welfare- https://mohfw.gov.in/right-information-rti
- Department of Justice- http://doj.gov.in/rti
- Department of Economic Affairs- https://dea.gov.in/rti-application-reply
- Department of Legal Affairs- http://legalaffairs.gov.in/rti/proactive-disclosure
- Department of Revenue- http://dor.gov.in/rti-cell
- Department of Industrial policy and promotion- http://dipp.nic.in/rti/rti-act-2005
- Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare- http://agricoop.nic.in/rti
- Department of Official Language- http://www.rajbhasha.nic.in/en/information-under-rti-act-2005
- International India- https://www.rti.org/rti-international-india
- Income Tax Department- https://www.incometaxindia.gov.in/pages/right-to-information.aspx
- Department of Human Resource Development: higher education – http://mhrd.gov.in/rti-higher-education?field_requestreg_no_value=&page=42
- Department of Human Resource Development: school education- http://mhrd.gov.in/rti-school-education
- Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India- http://www.cbec.gov.in/htdocs-cbec/info-act/info-act-idx
- Department of Pension and Pensioner’s Welfare- http://doppw.gov.in/rti
- Department of Science and Technology- http://www.dst.gov.in/rti/right-information-act