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How to file RTI (Right to information) application against the government

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

30/05/2015

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How to file RTI? Right to Information Act 2005 commonly known RTI Act, mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The Act makes it obligatory for every public authority to make suo-motu disclosure in respect of the particulars of its organization, functions, duties etc. as provided in section 4 of the Act.

A citizen who desires to obtain any information under the Act should make an application to the Concerned Public Information Officer (PIO) of the concerned public authority in writing in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made.

Before filing the RTI you should follow these steps

  • Do a little background research.
  • Find out what information falls under the purview of the department concerned. Identify the department/subject of your query.
  • Is it a state or a central subject? 
  • Phrase your questions wisely and Attach court fee stamp or Indian Postal Order of worth Rs 10 with the application and keep a copy of it with you for future reference. (the payment of fee can also be made by way of cash to the Account Officer of the Public authority or to the Central Assistant Public Information Officer against proper receipt).

Objective of RTI 

The basic object of the RTI Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.

What is information

Information is any material in any form. It includes records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form. It also includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public authority under any law for the time being in force.

Format of application 

There is no prescribed form of application for seeking information. the application can be made or plain paper. The application should, however, have the name and complete postal address of the applicant. Even in cases where the information is sought electronically, the application should contain the name and postal address of the applicant. If you want information from the central government except for the government of Delhi you can file the RTI online.

Time limit for providing information

  • 30 days from the date of application.
  • 48 days for information concerning the life and liberty of a person.
  • 5 additional days if the above response time, in case the application for information is given to Assistant Public Information Officer.

In case the third party’s interest involved then time limit will be 40 days.

First Appeal

If an applicant is not supplied the information within the prescribed time thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be, is not satisfied with the information furnished to him, be may prefer an appeal to the first appellate authority who is an officer senior in rank to the CPIO. 

Such an appeal should be filed within a period or thirty days from the date on which the limit of 30 days of supply of information is expired or from the data on which the information or decision of the CPIO is received.

The appellate authority of the public authority shall dispose of the appeal within a period of thirty days or in exceptional cases with 45 days of the receipt of the appeal.

Second Appeal

If the appellate authority fails to pass an order on the appeal within the prescribed period or if the appellant is not satisfied with the order of the first appellate authority, he may prefer a second appeal with the Central Information Commission within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made by the first appellate authority or was actually received by the appellant.

Exempted information 

According to section 8 of RTI Act, a citizen can’t get this information: 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.

The 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. Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature. 

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.

The 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.

Information received in confidence from a foreign government. 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.

The information which 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.

Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has not 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.

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. Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed.

Exempted organisations 

These organisations are exempted from RTI Act and no information shall be given towards these organisations.

  • Intelligence Bureau,
  • Ministry of Home Affairs,
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,
  • Ministry of Finance,
  • Central Economic Intelligence Bureau,
  • Ministry of Finance,
  • Directorate of Enforcement,
  • Ministry of Finance,
  • Narcotics Control Bureau,
  • Aviation Research Centre,
  • Special Frontier Force,
  • Border Security Force, 
  • Central Reserve Police Force,
  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police,
  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Central Industrial Security Force,
  • National Security Guard,
  • Research & Analysis Wing
  • The Cabinet Secretariat
  • Assam Rifles,
  • Sashastra Seema Bal,
  • Special Protection Group, 
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation,
  • Ministry of Defence Border Road Development Organisation, 
  • Financial Intelligence Unit,
  • India Directorate General Income Tax (Investigation), 
  • National Technical Research Organisation, 
  • National Security Council Secretariat.
shivendra pratap singh advocate

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

Practising lawyer in the High Court Lucknow. You can consult on Criminal, Civil, Matrimonial, Writ, Service matters, Property, Revenue and RERA related issues.

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