RTI stands for the Right to Information. Right to Information is a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. Article 19 (1) says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression. As early as in 1976, the Supreme Court said in the case of Raj Narain vs State of UP, that people cannot speak or express themselves unless they know. Therefore, right to information is embedded in article 19 and is a fundamental right. In the same case, Supreme Court further said that India is a democracy.
People are the masters. Therefore, the masters have a right to know how the governments, meant to serve them, are functioning. Further, every citizen pays taxes. The citizens therefore, have a right to know how their money was being spent. These three principles were laid down by the Supreme Court while saying that RTI is a fundamental right of the people of India.
If RTI is a fundamental right, then why do we need an Act?
This is because if you went to any Government Department and told the officer there, “RTI is my fundamental right, and that I am the master of this country. Therefore, please show me all your files”, he would not do that. In all probability, he would throw you out of his room. Therefore, we need a machinery or a process through which we can exercise this fundamental right. Right to Information Act 2005, which became effective on 13th October 2005, provides that machinery. It lays down the process on how to apply for information, where to apply, how much fees etc.
What rights are available under RTI Act 2005?
Right to Information Act 2005 empowers every citizen to
Ask any questions from the Government or seek any information
Take copies of any government documents
Inspect any government documents.
Inspect any Government works
Take samples of materials of any Government work.
When did RTI Act come into force?
The Central Right to Information Act came into force on the 12th October, 2005. However, before that 9 state Governments had passed state Acts. These were J & K, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam & Goa.
Who is covered under RTI?
The Central RTI Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. All bodies,which are constituted under the Constitution or under any law or under any Government notification or all bodies, including NGOs, which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government are covered.
What is “substantially financed”?
This is neither defined under RTI Act nor under any other Act. So, this issue will evolve with time, maybe through some court orders etc.
Are Private bodies covered under the RTI Act?
All private bodies, which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government are directly covered. Others are indirectly covered. That is, if a government department can access information from any private body under any other Act, the same can be accessed by the citizen under the RTI Act through that government department.
Isn’t Official Secrets Act 1923 an obstacle to the implementation of RTI Act?
No. Sec 22 of the RTI Act 2005 clearly says that RTI Act would over ride all existing Acts includingOfficials Secrets Act.
How to I locate the full Act?
The full Act in Hindi and English is available on the website of Department of Personnel and Training www.persmin.nic.in. It is also available on this website.
Who will give me information?
One or more existing officers in every Government Department have been designated as Public Information Officers (PIO). These PIOs act like nodal officers. You have to file your applications with them. They are responsible for collecting information sought by you from various wings of that Department and providing that information to you. In addition, several officers have been appointed as Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs). Their job is only to accept applications from the public and forward it to the right PIO.
Where do I submit application?
You can do that with the PIO or with APIO. In the case of all Central Government Departments, 629 post offices have been designated as APIOs. This means that you can go to any of these post offices and submit your fee and application at the RTI counter in these post offices. They will issue you a receipt and acknowledgement and it is the responsibility of that post office to deliver it to the right PIO. The list of these post offices is given at http://www.indiapost.gov.in/rtimanual16a.html
Is there any fee? How do I deposit that?
Yes, there is an application fee. For Central Government Departments, it is Rs 10. However, different states have prescribed different fee. For details see rules framed by the states on this website. For getting information, you have to pay Rs 2 per page of information provided for Central Government Departments. It is different for different states. Similarly, there is a fee for inspection of documents. There is no fee for first hour of inspection, but after that, you have to pay Rs. 5 for every subsequent hour or fraction thereof. This is according to Central Rules. For each state, see respective state rules.
You can deposit fee wither in cash or through a DD or bankers cheque or postal order drawn in favor of that public authority. In some states, you can buy court fee stamps and affix it on your application. This would be treated as if you have deposited the fee. You can then deposit your application either by post or by hand.
What should I do if the PIO or the concerned Department does not accept my application?
You can either send it by post. You should also make a formal complaint to the respective Information Commission under section 18. The Information Commissioner has the power to impose a penalty of Rs 25000 on the concerned officer who refused to accept your application. There have been many good laws in this country but none of those laws worked.
Why do you think this law would work?
This law is already working. This is because for the first time n the history of independent
Has any penalty been imposed so far?
Yes, some officers have been penalized by the Central as well as State Information Commissioners.
Does the Applicant get the amount fined to the PIO?
No. The amount fined is deposited in the government treasury. However, under sec 19, the applicant can seek compensation.
Is there an application form for seeking information?
For Central Government Departments, there is no format. You should apply on a plain sheet of paper like an ordinary application. However, many states and some ministries and departments have issued their own formats. These formats however are not mandatory. Some of the websites where these formats are available are given on this website.
How can I apply for information?
Draft your application on a normal sheet of paper and submit it by post or in person to the Public
Information Officer (PIO). [Remember to keep a copy of the application for your personal reference]
How can I deposit my application fee?
Every state has a different mode of payment for application fee. Generally, you can deposit your
application fee via:
• In person by paying cash [remember to take your receipt]
• By Post through:
Indian Postal Order
Money orders (only in some states)
Affixing Court fee Stamp
• By remitting the requisite fee through Treasury Challan in the appropriate head of account as
specified by the state government.
Please see respective state rules for complete details.
Can I submit my application only with the PIO?
No, in case the PIO is not available you can submit your application with the Assistant PIO or any
other officer designated to accept the RTI applications.
Where can I locate the concerned PIO?
A list of PIOs/APIOs and Appellate Authorities for all Central and State departments/Ministries is
available online at www.rti.gov.in
What if I can not locate my PIO or APIO?
In case you have problems locating your PIO/APIO you can address your RTI application to the PIO
C/o Head of Department and send it to the concerned public authority with the requisite application fee.
The Head of Department will have to forward your application to the concerned PIO.
Do I have to personally go to deposit my application?
Depending on your state rules for mode of payment you can deposit your application for information
from the concerned departments of your state government via post by attaching a DD, Money Order,
Postal Order or affixing Court fee Stamp
For all Central government departments the Department of Posts has designated 629 postal offices at
the national level. The designated officers in these post offices work as Assistant PIOs and collect the
application to forward to the concerned PIO. A list is available on
Is there a time limit to receiving information?
Yes. If you file your application with the PIO, you must receive information within 30 days.
In case you have filed your application with Assistant PIO then information has to be made available within 35 days. In case the matter to which the information pertains affects the life and liberty of an individual, information has to be made available in 48 hours.
Do I have to give reasons why I want a particular information?
Absolutely not! You are not required to give any reasons or additional information other than your contact details (i.e., Name, Address, and Phone No.). Sec 6(2) clearly says that no information other than contact details of the applicant shall be asked.
Can the PIO refuse to accept my RTI application?
No. The PIO can not refuse to accept your application for information under any circumstances. Even if the information does not pertain to his/her department/jurisdiction, s/he has to accept it. If the application does not pertain to that PIO, he would have to transfer it to the right PIO within 5 days under sec 6(2).
Can the PIO refuse to give me information?
A PIO can refuse information on 11 subjects that are listed in section 8 of the RTI Act. These include
information received in confidence from foreign governments, information prejudicial to security,
strategic, scientific or economic interests of the country, breach of privilege of legislatures, etc.
There is a list of 18 agencies given in second schedule of the Act to which RTI Act does not apply.
However, they also have to give information if it relates to matters pertaining to allegations of
corruption or human rights violations.
Does the Act provide for partial disclosure?
Yes. Under Section 10 of the RTI Act, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not
contain information which is exempt from disclosure under this Act.
Can access be denied to file notings?
No. File notings are an integral part of the government file and are subject to disclosure under the Act.
This has been clarified by the Central Information Commission in one of its orders on 31st Jan 2006.
What can I do if I do not receive information?
If you do not receive information or are dissatisfied with the information received, you can file an
appeal with the first appellate authority under section 19 (1) of the right to Information Act.
Who is a First Appellate authority?
Every public authority must designate a First Appellate Authority. This officer designated is the officer
senior in rank to your PIO.
Is there a form for the first appeal?
No there is no form for filing a first appeal. Draft your appeal application on a normal sheet of paper
addressed to the First Appellate Authority. Remember to attach a copy of your original application and
a copy of the reply in whatever form (if received) from the PIO. However some states like
Do I have to pay a fee for the first appeal?
No. You are not required to pay any fee for the first appeal. However, some state governments have
prescribed a fee.
In how many days can I file my first appeal?
You can file your first appeal within 30 days of receipt of information or within 60 days of filing RTI
application (if no information received).
What if I do not receive the information after the first appeal process?
If you do not receive information even after the first appeal then you can take the matter forward to the
second appeal stage.
What is a second appeal?
A second appeal is the last option under the RTI Act to get the information requested. You can file
second appeal with the Information Commission. For appeals against Central Government
Departments, you have Central Information Commission (CIC). For every state Government, there is a
State Information Commission.
Is there a form for the second appeal?
No there is no form for filing a second appeal. Draft your appeal application on a normal sheet of paper
addressed to the Central or State Information Commission. Carefully read the appeal rules before
drafting your second appeal. Your second appeal application can be rejected if it does not comply with
the appeal rules. However some states like Maharashtra,
Do I have to pay a fee for the second appeal?
No. You are not required to pay any fee for the second appeal. However, some states have prescribed a
fee for that.
In how many days can I file my second appeal?
You can file your second appeal within 90 days of disposal of first appeal or within 90 days of the date,
by when first appeal was to be decided.
How does this law work so effectively for pending works i.e. why is it that the government
officials end up doing your work which they were not doing earlier?
Let us take the case of Nannu. He was not being given his ration card. But when he applied under RTI,
he was given a card within a week. What did nannu ask? He asked the following questions:
1. I filed an application for a duplicate ration card on 27th January 2004. Please tell me the daily
progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for
how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?
2. According to the rules, my card should have been made in 10 days. However, it is more than
three months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed
to take action on my application and who have not done so?
3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing
harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?
4. By when would I get my card now?
In normal circumstances, such an application would be thrown in a dustbin. But this law says that the
Government has to reply in 30 days. If they don’t do that, their salary could be deducted. Now, it is not
easy to answer these questions.
There is no progress made. But the government officials cannot write in these many words that they
have not acted for so many months. Else that would be admission of guilt on paper.
If the government provides names and designations of the officials, their responsibility gets fixed. Any
officer is most scared of fixing of responsibility against him in this manner. So, the moment one files
such an application, his/her pending work is done.
The first question is – please provide the daily progress made on my application.
The next question is – please provide the names and designations of the officers who were supposed to take
action on my application and who had not done so