As a diligent and conscientious citizen, if you would like to know about the information regarding the latest policies, changes made in the budget or any other information which is done in the public interest, we can do so, with RTI – Right to Information. This is controlled by an ACT, which enables any citizen, who would like to acquire any public information they are interested in, subject to approval from the government.
The RTI Act, 2005, is crucial as it mandates prompt response to a citizen’s request for any government information and insights. The Act aims at developing transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. The Act governs the whole of India, except the state of J&K. The Act lays down an easy procedure to acquire information.
The right to Information, is thus, a very invaluable and key medium to put in queries and doubts regarding the government schemes and policies, and to derive their answers too. With digitalization of RTI applications, it has become easier and simpler to apply for information.
Now, apart from being a medium where one can share their queries and doubts, RTI is also a way of getting engaged in the government strategy, by taking part in them. However, RTI also has certain boundaries and demarcations when it comes to sharing data with public.
There are certain informative data, such as military data or sensitive details relating to the safety and welfare of the nation, which shall be obtained from Right to Information website.
Say, for example, if you would like to know about the no. of troops posted in Siachen or how the border is secured, though asked out inquisitively, these cannot be shared with public. The RTI is a powerful tool, and hence, needs to safeguard their interests against any anti-national elements wanting to disrupt the harmony and tranquility of the country. That is why, certain demarcations are placed, and come into play, if anyone tries to obtaining sensitive details on its portal.
Steps for Filing an RTI
Figure out the department/ministry to which you shall address your concerns and queries. Some subjects fall under the purview of State governments or local authority, such as the municipal administration, while others are fall under the Central government. Thoroughly check the websites before clicking on the appropriate authority. The search bar on the top panel will help you in identifying the correct authority to raise your concerns.
For offline applications too, relevant information regarding the ministry involved can be sought from the website.
On a sheet of white paper or on the page provided, write out the application by hand, or type it, in English, Hindi or in the vernacular.
The request should not exceed more than 3000 words and should precisely state what you are looking for, from the authorities. You can attach any document of size 1 MB (in case of online application) or with the hand written form.
Submit the online application form after recognizing the ‘Verification code’ generated by the website. Once you have submitted the application form with the relevant fees, a ‘Unique registration number’ will be generated by the site. This number will be sent to your registered mobile number via SMS and Email too, if an email id is given.
You can use this code to know about the status of your RTI application on the RTI website.
For off-line applications:
- Address the application to the State or Central Public Information Officer. Write down the name of the office from which you seek information, and the complete address. Clearly mention ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005’ in your subject line.
- Mention your full name and address, contact details, email address and sign the application. Put in the date and the name of your town.
- Take a copy of the application and keep one with you for future reference. Send your application by post or hand it in person to the department concerned. Remember to take an acknowledgement receipt.
The law compels that information must be provided in 30 days. If the department fails, 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 lies in the hands of Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner.