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The parts I and II of Right to Information (RTI) series shed light upon the origin of the Act, basic definitions in RTI Act, 2005 and some of the success stories on the usage of this transparency law. The part III of this series includes some basic tips to draft an effective RTI application and appeals. It also includes interesting practical tricks on enhancing chances of seeking appropriate responses from the Public Information Officer to the respective queries mentioned in RTI application. In a nutshell, this concluding part in RTI series highlights the procedural part of RTI with a specific focus on its practical implementation.

It should be noted that RTI is right to ‘information’ and does not mean a right to ‘interrogation’. And information in simple words is anything that exists on record. However, this record can be available in hard copy or soft copy, i.e. in physical or in electronic format. Also since Section 2(j) of RTI Act has provided a wide definition to “right to information”, it also includes that an application can make an application for inspection of any work, records, documents and eventually obtain its notes, extracts or certified copies of such records or documents. Further, Section 2(j) also empowers an applicant to obtain the certified sample of such material subsequent to its inspection.

Example:- Suppose the road/lane/pavement outside one’s place of residence is in damaged condition. One can foremost file a complaint with your local body about the issue. If it is resolved it, well and good. If not, one can file an RTI application seeking an inspection requesting the presence of an authorized officer liable to resolve that issue. During inspection one may collect the certified sample or even capture the photos/video of the spot. This can be proof and with its support, the matter can be escalated to the superior authorities and the issue can be resolved.

Alternatively instead of lodging a complaint, one can also directly file an RTI application seeking details about the construction, repairs done upon the wear and tear, a name of the contractor and contract copy, etc. Most often, the issue is resolved immediately after the concerned PIO receives the RTI application. Similarly, there are many such alternatives and depending upon the circumstances, the methods may vary.

The key points that an RTI application should include:

 Application for obtaining information under the Right to Information Act, 2005

To,
The Public Information Officer (PIO),
Office address in full with the Pin code.

  • Full name of the applicant:
  • Full address of the applicant:
  • Contact details: contact number and email-id:
  • Particulars of the Information sought:
    1. The subject matter of the information (in short).
    2. Period to which information is sought.
    3. Description of information required.
    4. Whether information is required by post or in person.
  • Whether the applicant is below the poverty line:

Place:

Date:

Signature of applicant:

Moreover, it is suggested that the applicant mentions the queries (point 4(c) above) in brief since this increases the chances of receiving an adequate response to the application. In case there are more than 5 queries which the applicant needs to know, then the applicant may file additional applications as required according to the number of such respective queries.

Suppose the applicant is unaware of the authority to which the particular application has to be made. In such scenario, the applicant can file the application addressing to the authority he thinks may be appropriate. Because the section 6(3) RTI Act 2005 prescribes that when an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information which is held by another public authority; or the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer.

Example:- ‘A’ files an RTI application to the state government’s general administration department seeking information related to the utilization of the state budget. Here, in this case, it becomes the duty of the PIO from general administration department to transfer the RTI application to the state’s finance department within five days from the date of receipt of him receiving it and also simultaneously inform the applicant of such transfer of his application.

Also, section 5(3) of the RTI Act puts the onus upon PIO to render reasonable assistance to the citizen in seeking any information, which is hardly realized.

Another stage post-RTI application is ‘Appeal’ which is again sub-divided into First appeal and Second appeal.

The first appeal can be made for the following reasons:

  1. If no reply is received from PIO within 30/35 days from the date of receipt of application. (also called as “deemed refusal”).
  2. If the information received is either incomplete or false.
  3. Denial of information based on vague reasoning or improper exceptions.
  4. Any other situation where the applicant feels that the decision of the PIO is inconsistent with law.

The first appeal has to be made within 60 days from the date of receipt of RTI application or within 30 days from the date of deemed refusal.

The format for filing first appeal in RTI is as follows:-

Application for Appeal under Right to Information Act, 2005, under Rule 19(1)

To,

First Appellate Authority,

Office address in full with the pin code.

  • Full name of the appellant:
  • Full address of the appellant:
  • Contact details: contact number and email-id:
  • Particulars (name and address) of the concerned PIO:
  • Date of submission of an application for seeking information:
  • Reasons for appeal:
  • Last date for filing the appeal:
  • Particulars of information sought in RTI application:
  • Prayer or relief sought:
  • Verification

 Place:

Date:

Signature of the appellant:

Enclosures:

i) copy of RTI application along with its acknowledgement if sent through post/courier.

ii) copy of RTI reply if received from PIO with which the applicant is aggrieved.

iii) copy of fee payment if applicable.

It is suggested that the appellant also marks a copy of his first appeal to the concerned PIO for intimation. In case if the appellant is unsatisfied with the decision of the first appellate authority, he/she should file a second appeal to the State/Central Information Commission within 90 days of receiving such decision. However, if the first appellate authority does not pass any order within the 30 days period of the application being received by him, then it is termed as “deemed refusal” and the appellant should file a second appeal within 120 days of filing the first appeal.

The format for filing the second appeal in RTI is as follows:-

Application for Appeal under Right to Information Act, 2005, under Rule 19(1)

To,

State/Central Information Commission,

Office address in full with the pin code. 

  • Full name of the appellant:
  • Full address of the appellant:
  • Contact details of the appellant: contact number and email-id:
  • Name and address of the PIO who gave the reply to the application:
  • Name and address of the First Appellate Authority who decided the First appeal:
  • Particulars of information sought in RTI application:
  • Particulars of the order(s) including number, if any, against which the appeal is preferred:
  • Brief facts leading to the appeal:
  • Grounds for the prayer or relief:
  • Prayer or relief sought:
  • Any other information related to appeal:
  • Verification:

Place:

Date:

Signature of the appellant:

Enclosures:

i) copy of RTI application along with its acknowledgement if sent through post/courier.

ii) copy of RTI reply if received from PIO with which the applicant is aggrieved.

iii) copy of fee payment if applicable.

iv) copy of the First appeal along with its acknowledgement if sent through post/courier.

v) copy of the decision if received any by the First Appellate Authority.

vi) any relevant documents if attached additionally.

Similarly to the first appeal, it is better marking a set of this copy to the First appellate authority and even to the concerned Public Information Officer for the sake of their intimation.

The fees for the first and second appeal at the State Information Commission may vary as per the respective State rules.

Although the RTI Act consists of 31 sections, it is very vast and equally a very powerful Act which has been proven effective along with the passage of time. However, it is very essential that this law is known widely among the masses and that maximum benefit be wielded by using it.

As it is also mentioned in the Preamble of the Act; “AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;”.

 

References:

Gandhi, S. (2019, January 25). RTI Act - Authentic Interpretation of the Statute. Retrieved from Satyameva Jayate: https://satyamevajayate.info/rti-act-authentic-interpretation-of-the-statute/

Image credit: Steemit

(The views expressed by the author are his personal. For any feedback/suggestions, he may be reached on shrikrishna.law@gmail.com)

 

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Written By Shrikrishna Kachave

Shrikrishna is an introvert, a pacifist and takes pride in being known as a 'good' person.

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