The Right To Information (RTI) Act (2005) is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government. The basic object of the Right to Information 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.
Public Information Officer
Public authorities have designated some of its officers as Public Information Officer .They are responsible to give information to a person who seeks information under the RTI Act.
Process for Filing Right To Information Application and Fees for filing :
A person who desires to seek some information from a public authority is required to send, along with the application, a demand draft or a banker’s cheque or an Indian Postal Order of Rs. 10/- (Rupees ten), payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority as fee prescribed for seeking information. The payment of fee can also be made by way of cash to the Accounts Officer of the public authority or to the Assistant Public Information Officer against proper receipt.
The applicant may also be required to pay further fee towards the cost of providing the information, details of which shall be intimated to the applicant by the PIO as prescribed by the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005. Rates of fee as prescribed in the Rules are given below: (a) rupees two (Rs. 2/-) for each page ( in A-4 or A-3 size paper) created or copied;(b) actual charge or cost price of a copy in larger size paper; (c) actual cost or price for samples or models; (d) for information provided in diskette or floppy, rupees fifty (Rs . 50/- ) per diskette or floppy; and(e) for information provided in printed form, at the price fixed for such publication or rupees two per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication.
If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, he is not required to pay any fee. However, he should submit a proof in support of his claim to belong to the below poverty line.
Format of RTI Application :
There is no prescribed format of application for seeking information. The application can be made on 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 name and postal address of the applicant. The information seeker is not required to give reasons for seeking information.
If a person is unable to make a request in writing, he may seek the help of the Public Information Officer to write his application and the Public Information Officer should render him reasonable assistance. Where a decision is taken to give access to a sensorily disabled person to any document, the Public Information Officer , shall provide such assistance to the person as may be appropriate for inspection.
Method of Seeking Information :
A citizen who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an application to the Public Information Officer of the concerned public authority in writing in English or Hindi or in the official language o f the area in which the application is made. The application should be precise and specific. He should make payment of application fee at the time of submitting the application as prescribed in the Fee Rules. The applicant can send the application by post or through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the public authority. The application can also be sent through an Assistant Public Information Officer.
Time Period for Supply of Information:
In normal course, information to an applicant shall be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority. If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours.
Appeals on RTI Application :
If an applicant is not supplied information within the prescribed time of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be, or is not satisfied with the information furnished to him, he may prefer an appeal to the first appellate authority who is an officer senior in rank to the Public Information Officer. Such an appeal, should be filed within a period of thirty days from the date on which the limit of 30 days of supply of information is expired or from the date on which the information or decision of the Public Information Officer is received. The appellate authority of the public authority shall dispose of the appeal within a period of thirty days or in exceptional cases within 45 days of the receipt of the appeal.
If the first 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.
Disposal of Appeals and Complaints by the CIC:
The Central Information Commission decides the appeals and complaints and conveys its decision to the appellant/complainant and first appellate authority/ Public Information Officer . Th e Commission may decide a n appeal/complaint after hearing the parties to the appeal/complaint or by inspection of documents produced by the appellant/complainant and Public Information Officer or such senior officer of the public authority who decided the first appeal. If the Commission chooses to hear the parties before deciding the appeal or the complaint, the Commission will inform the date of hearing to the appellant or the complainant at least seven clear days before the date of hearing. The appellant/complainant has the discretion to be present in person or through his authorized representative at the time of hearing or not to be present.