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The Article “How to File RTI?” mainly deals with the procedure of filing an RTI application via online or offline mode. It also details the next step available for an individual if his/her application is rejected by the PIO. A general assessment of the Act’s effect on both the public and the administration is included in the end.
Right to Information Act was a legislative landmark in the history of Indian legislative reforms. It was promulgated in the year 2005 by the Indian parliament. The Basic intent of the act is to increase the transparency in the government’s functioning by allowing the public to have access to direct information regarding various policies, decision-making processes etc…
The RTI is an effective tool to ensure accountability and a constructive check against administrative corruption. Further, it is also about improving the people’s participation in the day to day governance which is ultimately what every democratic state should strive for.
Consequently, The Right to Information Act has resulted in the creation of a section of citizens informed and interested in the administrative exercises by their active involvement which not only strengthens the inclusive character of the Indian polity but also act as the guardians against subversive tendencies that could threaten the very existence of the democratic system.
II. How to File an RTI Request?
An RTI request is the first time application for accessing information. In this case, the process involves only two parties; the applicant and the PIO (Public Information Officer). An RTI request can be filed through both online and offline means.
A. How to File RTI Online
The online method was made available to the public under the initiative of the Department of Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to allow for easy access of information for the public regarding details of first Appellate Authorities, PIOs etc. Https://rtionline.gov.in is the portal for lodging an RTI request.
Procedure to Follow
- Go to the link; https://rtionline.gov.in,therein click on the submit request option.
- An information box displaying the guidelines will appear, after reading carefully the instructions which detail the prerequisites for availing the facility
- Click on the checkbox which read ‘I have read and understood the above guidelines’
- Then click on the submit button.
- An online RTI request form will be displayed.
- Then select the ministry/department/apex body for which the applicant wants to file the RTI for, from the dropdown list box.
- Fill in the necessary details. If the applicant wants to be alerted with SMS updates regarding the status of the application, fill in the mobile number as well.
- For, those citizens willing to avail the fee concessions for BPL category have to check on the ‘Yes” option corresponding to the question. They will have to upload a scanned copy of the BPL card certificate to prove their claim. Such applicants are not required to provide the RTI fee.
- Whereas, non-BPL applicants have to select the ‘no’ option and have to pay the fee of RS 10 using the ‘make payment’ option provided therein. The payment option includes internet banking, ATM-cum -Debit card or credit After making the payment the user will be redirected to the RTI portal.
- Once the application is submitted by clicking on the submission button a Unique Registration Number will be sent to the mobile number given in the form. This number has to be used for all future references involving the complaint.
- Also, an email will be sent to the applicant upon the completion of the procedure confirming the submission.
The Application thus filed is directly forwarded to the nodal officer of the concerned ministry/department/apex body which will then be transmitted electronically to the concerned CPIO.
B. How to File RTI Offline
Those litigants who do not have access to internet facilities can file the RTI through the conventional offline in which the complaint is written on a paper and is send via postal mail.
- Write your application, which can be either handwritten or typed in English, Hindi or the official language of the given region. Even though there is no standardized writing format uniformly applicable in all areas, some states do insist on a particular format.
- Address your application to the Central or State Public Information Officer (PIO) or Assistant PIO. The subject line must be ‘seeking information under RTI Act,2005’.The letter should also include the name and full address of the office concerned.
- Write the questions or request of the information correctly and clearly. Also specify the details of year, period etc. if necessary to add to the clarity.
- Fill in the necessary personal details such as contact address, full name, and affix applicant signature along with the date.
- Pay RS 10 as the fee to file the application which could be paid as cash, money order, bank draft or court fee stamp. BPL applicants are not required to pay but have to attach a valid proof supporting their claim for fee concession.
- A photocopy of the same has to be kept by the applicant.
- Send it by post or submit, it personally, also make sure that you receive the acknowledgement for future references.
III. Filing an RTI First Appeal
If the PIO rejects your application the next step is to file an RTI appeal. It is filed before a senior officer against the decision of a PIO. And thus involves a third party besides the citizen and PIO. It can be also filed if the reply so provided by the PIO is not found satisfactory by the complainant. The appeal filing has a dimension of compliant in opposition to the pure application nature of the RTI request.
- For filing First Appeal click on the ‘submit first appeal’ option. Upon clicking a guidelines box will be displayed.
- After clicking on the checkbox press the submit option.
- Then an online RTI first appeal form will be provided, on it, the applicant has to give the reason for filing the appeal from the options listed on the dropdown box.
- Provide an adequate description of the appeal in the text box which should be within a maximum limit of 3000 characters.
- Subsequently, a unique registration number will be issued, which is for all future references.
Once the appeal application reaching the nodal officer electronically, it will then be forwarded to the concerned appellate authority.
The expected time within which a response is to be sent to the application is within 30 days provided it is filed with the PIO. However, if the application is filed with the Assistant PIO it can take anywhere between 30-35 days for the reply to reach the applicant. However, if the information sought directly affect the life and liberty of an individual then it has to be furnished within 48 hours.
Points to Note
- The applicant has to be an Indian citizen.
- The text of the applications that can be uploaded must not exceed 3000 characters.
- Status of the application/first appeal can be seen by the applicant/appellant by clicking at “view status”.
Impact of RTI
The RTI Act has revolutionized the administrative machinery in the first place by opening the doors on the governmental decision -making process which was till then shrouded in secrecy and characterized by bureaucratic lethargy.
It necessitated that the officials and executives conduct their business constitutionally and ensured transparency. For the first time in Indian administrative history, the general public could actually have a direct glance at the inner-working of the state system.
Besides having an impact on the functioning of democratic governance, it is found that individual citizens also greatly benefit from using RTI as a tool to access benefits and for speedy certificate issuance etc. Which would otherwise take ages to get them done.
A recent news report on the Economic Times 2017 ,April 7 issues cites that a total of about 1.75 crores RTI applications have been filed since the act’s inception.
Further, a figure not less than 4800 RTI applications are received every day by the authorities which shows the enormous appeal RTI has among the public as a tool for availing benefits and remedies fro the administration.
Thus we can say that RTI is one of the major legislative reforms that have had such a huge direct impact on the general public and the administration in general. It has to a great extent realized the democratic dream of direct public participation in the governance.
However, like every other legislation, RTI act to has been mired in controversies, manipulation by parties by using them as a tool to effect political vendettas, stalling beneficial policies etc.
Recently, there have been attempts to reduce the wide jurisdiction of the Act. Similarly, in many cases, the RTI seems to be non-functional as most of the appointment to the PIO posts have been stalled or neglected.
Nevertheless, it is not unjust to say that RTI remains to be one of the most popular and ground-level -efficient legislation India has witnessed so far.
- RTI Online Portal (Guidelines for filing an RTI request)
- The RTI Story: Power to the People by Aruna Roy