The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, is crucial as it mandates timely response to a citizen’s request for government information

What does the Act aim to do?

The Act aims at promoting transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority

Who does the Act apply to?

The Act extends to the whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir

How to file an RTI plea

The Act prescribes a simple procedure to obtain information. Though some public authorities have their own formats, there is no compulsion to stick to the prescribed format

Step 1: Identify the department you want information from. Some subjects fall under the purview of State governments or local authority such as the municipal administration/panchayat, while others are handled by the Central government

Step 2: On a sheet of white paper, write out the application by hand, or type it, in English, Hindi or the official language of the area. You can also ask the public information officer to put it in writing

Step 3: Address the application to the State/Central Public Information Officer. Write the name of the office from which you seek information, and the complete, correct address. Clearly mention ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005’ in your subject line

Step 4: State your request in the form of specific, detailed questions, and mention the period/year your request falls into. Ask for documents or extracts of documents, if required. To obtain documents, the applicant has to make a payment of Rs. 2 per page

Step 5: Pay Rs. 10 to file the plea. This can be done in the form of cash, money order, bank draft or a court fee stamp. The stamp should be affixed to the application. Applicants below the poverty line (BPL) need not make the payment but have to attach a copy of the BPL certificate along with the application

Step 6: Provide your full name and address, contact details, email address and sign the application clearly. Put in the date and the name of your town

Step 7: Take a photocopy of the application and keep one with you for future reference. Send your application by post or hand it in personally to the department concerned. Don’t forget to get an acknowledgement

Step 8: The law mandates that information be provided in 30 days. If this does not happen, you can file an appeal. The first appeal should be addressed to ‘The Appellate Authority’ with the name of the department and the address. The appellate authority is mandated to revert in 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. If the Appellate authority fails to reply, further appeals lie with the Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner, State/Central Information Commission

EXPERT SAYS: (K. Sanjaya Kumar, chapter coordinator, 5 Pillar, Pallavaram Chapter NICA: 154582301)

1) A court fee stamp is the easiest to acquire. Bank drafts and postal orders take time

2) Send in your application by registered post as this will enable you to receive an acknowledgement of the receipt. Keep the acknowledgement safely

3) In your application, state that the information be provided to you in written form, and sent by registered post

4) Ensure your questions are all related to the subject at hand, and that they are to-the-point

5) If the information sought by you is handled by more than one department, it is mandatory for your application to be forwarded to the other departments concerned. The recipient of your application should intimate you of the forwarding, and the other departments should provide the information within 30 days of the receipt of the application

For more help, log on to the RTI Foundation of India for a complete guide.

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Compiled by Zubeda Hamid; graphics by Satwik Gade

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