The right to information act came into being, i.e. was passed by the parliament of India, in the year 2005. This act provides us with the motive, benefits, purpose, means to use it and the subsequent remedies available. Now an act being a piece of legislature is not easy to understand for a layman, here we will try to decipher it and filter out the very basic information, required to file an RTI.
Why RTI act?
Indi a being a vast country, having more than enough government organisations and institutions, it becomes a very difficult task to obtain information about individual tasks and primarily to have access to one’s personal/ official information, being maintained and micro-managed by any government department. In order to rule out such issues, the act was brought so as to develop a bridge between the govt and the common man, to give them access to the government records and personal yet official information relating to individuals.
From whom can we obtain such information?
In simple terms, any organisation/department/ institution which run/ managed/ funded by any of the state or central government is liable/ responsible to the RTIs filed, seeking information from them.
Simply said, any organisation which is not private or barred under the act ( eg. Which is governed by the official secrets act, or the information which can't be made public, in the interest of public order and safety of the country)
What exactly is RTI application?
An application made under the Right to information act is simply an application or a letter written to the concerned officer, to provide us with answers to our questions.
Now those questions can be about anything, be the documents you wanted to obtain for a long time, or your answer sheets or the status of your application made to any department, or the progress report of any government project or procedure of any government task. Now, this application need not be technical or loaded with official language, one can simply send it in a letter format, with simple questions and details of the information required.
How to send your RTI Application/letter/ query?
Under the RTI act, an officer has been appointed for each department, known as the Public Information Officer, at the different level, who under a hierarchy system, to obtain and provide the information to the general public. When we have to send an RTI application we address it to the concerned public information Officer, not by name but by the designation itself. One need not search the person itself, it is automatically addressed to and received by the concerned PIO only.
Now, you can send the same in very simple format with clear facts and questions, along with a postal stamp of RS. 10/- only, obtained from any post office. When it comes to the charges and the fess, the PIO then reverts and asks the person to submit the amount, which is nothing but the cost of the photocopy r stationary required to send the asked information to the applicant himself. Further, there had been cases whereas an indirect method to not provide the information the PIOs have asked for huge sums of money, while as per some recent judicial cases, the cost of RTI reply cant be asked for, more than RS. 50/-
What happens to my RTI after I have sent it?
On receipt, even if not addressed to the right person, the concerned department is supposed to send the same to the right( concerned PIO) and on such receipt, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has to, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within ( 30) thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons , clearly specified in the act or any other, as the case may be. Hence, one is supposed to receive the required information within 30 days, else automatically the same is transferred to the higher authorities, wherein it never takes too long, to get addressed and answered.
Thus, use your right wisely, precisely and to the best of your own and the social interest.