As we all know that, the Right to information Act, 2005 (Herein after referred to as “RTI Act, 2005” or simply “Act”) came into force in the year 2005 in the government of UPA. The object was to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a central information commission and state information commissioners and for matter connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The main objective of enforcement of this Act was to provide the citizen, the right to access the information which was not available to public at large subject to certain exceptions as provided under the Act. It definitely provides a reasonable means of transparency and accountability in the working of government functioning. We can access any information and/or documents by just submitting an application with a very reasonable cost throughout India.
An effort has been made to provide a brief understanding of various provisions under the Act and Rules made therein and also the format under which the application is to be moved before the concerned authority. Hope the same will be helpful to all of you.
Section- 2 (f): Meaning of “INFORMATION”
“Information” means any material in any form, including Records, Documents, Memos, e-mails, Opinions, Advices, Press releases, Circulars, Orders, Logbooks, Contracts, Reports, Papers, Samples, Models, Data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a Public Authority under any other law for the time being in force.
Note: Before going into the provisions of RTI Act, 2005 one need to understand the meaning of Information. This term is vital and will be used throughout this article. The term information includes everything whether emails, advice, any order even the log books used government department or any authority under the Government or anyother entity as provided under the Act. Apart from above you can also ask for samples, models or any data materials. Government department can reject your application stating that the information cannot be provided and to procure that information you need to file an appeal against the order before higher authorities. The same is also prescribed under this write up.
Section- 2(j): Meaning of “RIGHT TO INFORMATION”
“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:
(i) Inspection of work, Documents, Records;
(ii) Taking notes, Extracts or Certified copies of documents or records;
(iii) Taking certified samples of material;
(iv) 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.
AUTHORITY TO WHOM APPLICATION SHOULD BE MADE
Section- 6(1): A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed specifying the particulars of the information sought by him or her to:
(a) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, of the concerned Public Authority;
(b) The Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.
Section 6 defines the authority to whom the application to be made for procuring the information required by you. The public authorities are as follows:
- Central Public Information Officer or;
- State Public Information Officer or;
- Central Assistant Public Information Officer or;
- State Assistant Public Information Officer.
Application can be made physically or through online mode in writing or orally and shall be accompanied with a fee 10/- rupees. Act required the application to be in English or in Hindi language or local language. Further, it is to be noted that application cannot be rejected on the ground of improper format.
Section 6 also states that applicant making the application do not require to disclose any reason for procuring the information and/or document apart from personal details which are necessary to contact him/her. Due to this provision a person can freely move a RTI application before the officer or authority asking any irrelevant question as well.
Sub-Section (3) of section 6 makes it mandatory on the public authority to transfer the application with regard to the information asked in the application is subject to hold by anyother authority or subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority. The time frame to transfer the application is 5 days. A very short span of time has been provided to provide the information at the earliest to the applicant.
Section 7 of the Act prescribes the time limit of supply of information. It states that information and/or any documents asked to be supplied under the application shall be provided within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of application by the authority. He may also reject the application by stating any the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9. In the information is not provided within the time as specified above it shall be deemed to have refused the request.
It is pertinent to mentioned here that if the sought information concerns the life or liberty of a person, in that case information shall be provided within 48 (Forty-Eight) hours of the receipt of the request.
Provisions of section 7 of the Act read with the rule 4 of the RTI rules further provided that in case access of information is to be provided in printed form or in electronic form, government shall charged a reasonable amount as fees as stated below on supply of such information. However, the same shall be provided free of cost in case the time as specified above is lapse.
Fees for providing information –
- Rs. 2/- for each page in A3 or similar size paper;
- Actual cost or price of photocopy in large size paper;
- Actual cost or price for samples or models;
- Rs. 50/- per diskette or floppy ;
- Price fixed for publication or Rs. 2 per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication;
- No fees for inspection of records for first hour and a Fees of 5 rupees for each subsequent hours or fraction thereof and
So much of postal charges involved in supply of information that exceed fifty rupees.
Further, while rejecting the application CPIO, SPIO as the case may be shall also communicate the reason of such rejection, period within which an appeal against such order may be preferred and the superior particulars of the authority before which the appeal is to be filed.
Section 8 of the RTI Act contained the circumstances under which the authority is not obligatory to provide information. The same are as follows:
a). Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect 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;
b). Information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
c). Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
d). Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
e). Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
f). Information received in confidence from foreign Government;
g). Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
h). Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
i). 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.
Those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed.
j). Information which relates to personal information and the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.
The information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
Appeal or first appeal can be made to the senior officer to the CPIO or SPIO in case the applicant didn’t received the order within 30 days of the application or in case he is not satisfied with the order of concerned CPIO or SPIO. (Section 19)
Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
Second Appeal is to be made within a period of 90 days from the date on which the decision should have been received or actually received before the CIC or SIC. Appeal can be admit after the expiry of 90 days if it satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
It is obligatory on the authority as specified above to issue such order within a period of 30 days or within such extended period not exceeding a total of 45 days for the reason to be recorded in writing.
PENALTY ON PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
Section 20 of the RTI Act provides that in case CIC or SIC while deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the CPIO or the SPIO has without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time as specified or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of Rs 250 (Two Hundred and Fifty) each day till application is received or information is furnished, however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees.
The burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
Format for reference:
Application under Right to Information Act, 2005
The Public Information Officer
Subject: Request to provide information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 regarding __________________
Dear Sir / Madam,
You are requested to provide the following information/documents under “Right to Information Act, 2005”:
- I, state that the information sought above does not fall within the restrictions contained in Sections 8 and 9 of the Act, and to the best of my knowledge it pertains to your office.
- This is to certify that I, ___(Name of applicant) S/o ______, am a citizen of India.
- A fee of Rs. 10/- is being deposited along with this application vide Indian postal Order No. _____ dated ________, drawn in favour of ___________________________.
Signature of Applicant