Right to Information Act 2005- What you need to know
# Introduction/ Preface – Right to Information Act 2005
The Right to Information Act 2005, popularly known as RTI Act has ensured every citizen of India a basic right to seek information from the Government authorities to fight against corruption and also bring forth more transparency to the functionalities of the Central Govt. or different State Governments. Thus this is an act for enabling the citizens of India to seek any documents, information from any Govt. authorities and this is their right and not the kindness of the Govt. In my words seeking information is a right to the public and providing such legitimate information is an obligation to public authorities.
Thus, it can be said that this is an act for the citizens of India to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in a view to promoting transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority with the help of the constitution of Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions.
# When the Right to Information Act 2005 came into existence?
The RTI Act 2005 came into force w.e.f 12th October 2005. Some experts say that this act is nothing new but the extension of the Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
# Is Right to Information Act 2005 a fundamental right?
The answer is No. With the introduction of RTI Act 2005, RTI has lost its fundamental right conferred by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India but only a statutory right to the citizens of India now.
# Applicability of RTI Act 2005!
The Right to Information Act 2005, is applicable to the whole of India except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
# What right this RTI act provide us?
- Every citizen has a right to request and obtain information from the Public Authorities subject to certain restrictions;
- Public authorities have to provide such information or reject the request within 30 days. If an application for information is rejected for any reasons, it has to be mentioned by the authority,
- Public needs to approach the Public Information Officer appointed by public authorities for seeking information,
- All Government organs including their branch offices are subjected to disclosure of information,
- Public authorities can suo moto disclose any information at free of cost to the public which they deem fit,
- This act is applicable to the constitutional bodies such as legislature and judiciary system too,
# How old information can be obtained through RTI?
Information up to 20 years old can be obtained using this right. Therefore, Government authorities need to preserve all information of their functional areas for a period of 20 years. This information can be preserved either in electronic forms or in manual mode.
# What is the cost for obtaining any information under Right to Information Act 2005?
1.Cost at the time of lodging application:-
A citizen of India who seeks information from any public authority is required to send along with his application a postal order, or Demand Draft or Bankers Cheque in favour of the Accounts Officer of the public authority, a fee of Rs.10 including the hard copy of his application under this act.
In case of RTI application filed online, the incumbent is required to pay Rs.10 as fee through electronic mode only.
However, no fees are required for the Below Poverty Line or BPL public under this act. BPL citizens are exempt from paying all fees under this act.
After lodging the application and paying Rs.10 as application fee, if the Public Information Officer is satisfied that the information sought by the incumbent is legitimate, the PIO can ask for the following payment to the incumbent concerned. The fee structure is as follows:-
2.Charges for copying: Rs.2 per page for A4 /A3 pages and for larger pages, the actual cost to be paid.
3.For samples or Models: Actual cost of such samples.
4.Inspection of records: No fee for the first hour, and Rs.5 per hour for subsequent hours including the fraction of an hour is required to be paid by the applicant.
5.Information on CD or Floppy disk: Rs. 50 for per CD or floppy disk is to be paid by the applicant.
If for any reason the applicant thinks that the fees which are being claimed from him are higher, he can appeal to the Commissioner of Information of Central or States as the case may be.
# Is only Govt. authorities are liable to provide such information?
No, even information from private companies can be obtained using this right. But this scope is limited in terms of information delivery.
# What are the restrictions on Right to Information Act 2005?
At the onset, it is very pertinent to know that the RTI Act 2005 is not applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are other limitations too;
- If the Public Information Officer or PIO thinks that the information seeking by a public would hurt the
- sovereignty of India,
- National security including defence, public safety,
- international relations,
- internal deliberations of the Government,
- information which if disclosed would violate the privacy of the public,
- information of an economic nature which if disclosed would give undue advantage to a particular person or a particular section causing revenue losses to Govt
- Information about scientific discoveries.
# Can my application be rejected at the outright?
Yes, your application can be rejected at the onset. If the PIO is so satisfied that the information sought by you falls under the exempt category, your application can be rejected. In that case, the applicant would be sent a letter showing the reasons for such rejection with a maximum period 30 days from the date of such application.
However, in some of the previous cases, it has come to notice that the PIO did reject some of the applications outrightly saying that the purpose for which the information is being sought is missing. However, it can be said that the spirit of the Act was not followed by the SIO and it has been a gross negligence on his part.
# Who is the appellate authority responsible for providing information?
There is Central Public Information Officer or CPIO appointed by the Central public authority at the Central level and State Public Information Officer or SPIO appointed by the State Governments across the country.
It is the responsibility of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of a public authority to supply correct and complete information within the specified time to any person seeking information under the RTI Act 2005. The first Appellate Authority happens to be an officer senior in rank to the CPIO and the second Appellate authority lies with the Information Commission established either by Centre or States.
Download below the RTI application form pdf:
Check the link below on how to file RTI online. Online RTI application form and RTI online status:
Final words on Right to Information Act 2005- What you need to know
Irrespective of the fact that Right to Information is a fundamental right or legal right, we the Indians have now the plethora of opportunities to explore any information that we seek and obtain from public authorities by following the procedures mentioned above. This Act has really opened a new era for the citizen of India, where people have to fight even for their basic needs. This is my strong belief that in coming years to eradicate corruption from the Govt. organs this act would evolve as a strong weapon for the common people to bring forth transparency and accountability towards the nation.