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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Right to Information

Where to file an online RTI?

An online RTI for central government bodies can be filed on https://rtionline.gov.in. After assenting to the terms and conditions, the request must be typed out in about 3,000 characters or a PDF file not exceeding 1MB may be attached. After the payment, an acknowledgement will be sent with a registration number. It is also possible to make a request for this through mail.

How to file an offline RTI? Is there any specific format to be followed?

There is no specific format to be followed. The application should be written or typed out either in Hindi or English or in the local language. This should be addressed to the central of the state Public Information Officer with a title of ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act-2005). The request must be detailed and specific. The application must also contain name, address, contact details, name of town, and date. The application may be sent by mail or handed over at the office personally. A photocopy of the request must be kept and an acknowledgement from the office must be collected.

What information can be requested through an RTI?

The Right to Information includes an access to the information which is held by or under the control of any public authority, and includes the right to inspect the work, document, records, taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents/ records and certified samples of the materials and also obtaining information which is stored in electronic form.

Who can file an RTI?

A person who is a citizen of India may file an RTI.

In what languages can the application be filled in?

The application may be written in Hindi, English, or the regional official language.

What is the fee for filing an RTI?

For both offline and online RTI applications, a fee of Rs.10 must be paid. If a BPL card is produced, people living under the poverty line will be exempted from the fee.

What are the modes of payment accepted?

For an online application, modes such as net banking, credit, or debit card may be used. For the offline option, bank draft, money order, or court fee stamp may be used.

What assistance is available to a person wishing to file an RTI?

For offline RTIs, a Public Information Officer (PIO) may be requested to write the application. When the decision is to give access of documents to a sensorial disabled person, the PIO may provide assistance to them.

What can be done in case of a mistake made in the application?

Unfortunately, there is no way to cancel an application once the payment has been successfully made. It is advised, in such a situation, to ignore the replies and file a new one.

Where can the status of the application be viewed?

In case, you have filed your RTI offline: please remember that the public information officer has an allotment period of 30 days to respond to your application. Only if your application has not received a response within 30 days, you can file a first appeal with the first appellate authority.

In case, you have filed your RTI online: In order to track the status, you need to visit the following page (https://rtionline.gov.in/request/status.php). This page will then lead you to a form where you will be prompted to enter your registration number, registered email ID and the security code. After clicking submit, the status of your filed RTI application will be visible.

What is the time limit within which an RTI officer is mandated to reply to the information requested?

As per Section 7(1) of the RTI Act, the time limit is 30 days.

Can certain information not be disclosed? What kind of information can be exempted from publication?

Yes, section 8 of the RTI Act provides for the exemption of certain kinds of information to be exempt from publication. Section 8 broadly protects information which could affect the sovereignty and integrity of India. Section 9 protects information which involves the infringement of existing third party copyrights. Any information which breaches parliamentary privilege is also banned. Information which could impede the process of an ongoing judicial investigation is also not permitted to be sought. Information which could affect relations with foreign states is also protected. The Indian Cabinet and other decision making documents are also protected. Personal privacy rights are also an overarching consideration.

What can be done if an RTI request is rejected? Is there a procedure and format for filing an appeal?

If an RTI request is rejected, an appeal can be filed. There is no specific format for filing a first appeal to the Central Public Authorities and most of the state public authorities. There are various model formats available[1]which essentially require you to fill in your details, the RTI application details and logically explain the rationale as to why you feel aggrieved and have preferred an appeal. Attach self-attested copies of the original RTI application, PIO reply if any, postal receipts, delivery proof, supporting documents to the Appeal application. Address the appeal to the correct first appellate authority and make a copy of the appeal application and keep it safe for future reference. The first appeal authority should reply within 30 days of his receiving your first appeal. First appeals can also be filed online.[2]

What is the time limit within which this appeal may be filed?

The first appeal shall be made within 30 days of the receipt of communication from the requisite information officer. In case, the first appeal authority is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal, the appeal can be filed after an extended period of another 30 day also.

Can a second appeal be filed? Where do you file the second appeal and how?

The Second Appeal is mandatorily filed with either the SIC (State Information Commission) or CIC (Central Information Commission). If your application was duly filed with a state Public Authority then you can file the Second Appeal with either the SIC of the respective state or the CIC. However only one must be chosen and you cannot file the Appeal with both of them. If your RTI was filed with a central Public Authority you should file the Appeal with CIC.

If a SIC mandates a certain format to be utilized in the second appeal, you must use the same from their respective website. In any scenario, the format laid out by the CIC can also be used for the SIC. There is no time limit specified under the RTI act for the Information Commission to arrive at a decision for a second appeal.

Who is a Central Public Information Officer?

The individual upon whom the law gives the responsibility for receiving and managing RTI applications. One of the first duties to the officer is to receive requests for information. Section 6 of the RTI act also mandates a responsibility on the officers to assist and holistically oversee the whole RTI process.

Who is a Chief Information Commissioner?

Section 12 of the RTI act makes the role of the Chief Information Commissioner very clear. His role is the general superintendence, direction and the management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission. He is also an appellate authority and the senior most officer in the Information Commission setup in India.

What is third party information?

Pursuant to Section 2(n) of the RTI Act, ‘third party’ refers to a person who demands information which requires a ‘public authority,’ other than a resident. This means that anybody other than the claimant or the respondent is protected by the term ‘third party.’ In cases where an appellant is not seeking or requesting detailed information on common records that list out details for a number of persons other than him, information can only be provided if the ‘third party’ agrees to disclose the information and subsequently until the CCPIO has considered the implications of such a disclosure.

This post was authored by Karundeep and Meghana, and proofread by Aditi Sheth, students of the National Law School of India University.

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