Monday, November 11, 2013

Right to Information Part 2

Can I submit my application only with the PIO? 
No, in case the PIO is not available you can submit your application with the Assistant PIO or any other officer designated to accept the RTI applications.

Where can I locate the concerned PIO? 
A list of PIOs/APIOs and Appellate Authorities for all Central and State departments/Ministries is available online at

What if I can not locate my PIO or APIO? 
In case you have problems locating your PIO/APIO you can address your RTI application to the PIO C/o Head of Department and send it to the concerned public authority with the requisite application fee. The Head of Department will have to forward your application to the concerned PIO.

Do I have to personally go to deposit my application? 
Depending on your state rules for mode of payment you can deposit your application for information from the concerned departments of your state government via post by attaching a DD, Money Order, Postal Order or affixing Court fee Stamp
For all Central government departments the Department of Posts has designated 629 postal offices at the national level. The designated officers in these post offices work as Assistant PIOs and collect the application to forward to the concerned PIO. A list is available on

Is there a time limit to receiving information? 
Yes. If you file your application with the PIO, you must receive information within 30 days.
In case you have filed your application with Assistant PIO then information has to be made available within 35 days.
In case the matter to which the information pertains affects the life and liberty of an individual, information has to be made available in 48 hours.

Do I have to give reasons why I want a particular information? 
Absolutely not! You are not required to give any reasons or additional information other than your contact details (i.e., Name, Address, and Phone No.). Sec 6(2) clearly says that no information other than contact details of the applicant shall be asked.

Can the PIO refuse to accept my RTI application? 
No. The PIO can not refuse to accept your application for information under any circumstances. Even if the information does not pertain to his/her department/jurisdiction, s/he has to accept it. If the application does not pertain to that PIO, he would have to transfer it to the right PIO within 5 days under sec 6(2).
Why is it that RTI works when no other law has worked
There have been many good laws in this country but none of those laws worked. Why do you think this law would work?
This law is already working. This is because for the first time in the history of independent India, there is a law which casts a direct accountability on the officer for non-performance. If concerned officer does not provide information in time, a penalty of Rs 250 per day of delay can be imposed by the Information Commissioner. If the information provided is false, a penalty of a maximum of Rs 25000 can be imposed. A penalty can also be imposed for providing incomplete or for rejecting your application for malafide reasons. This fine is deducted from the officer’s personal salary.

Has any penalty been imposed so far?
Yes, some officers have been penalized by the Central as well as State Information Commissioners.

Does the Applicant get the amount fined to the PIO?
No. The amount fined is deposited in the government treasury. However, under sec 19, the applicant can seek compensation.

What should I do if I do not receive satisfactory information 
What can I do if I do not receive information? 
If you do not receive information or are dissatisfied with the information received, you can file an appeal with the first appellate authority under section 19 (1) of the right to Information Act.

Who is a First Appellate authority? 
Every public authority must designate a First Appellate Authority. This officer designated is the officer senior in rank to your PIO.

Is there a form for the first appeal? 
No there is no form for filing a first appeal (but some state governments have prescribed a form). Draft your appeal application on a blank sheet of paper addressed to the First Appellate Authority. Remember to attach a copy of your original application and a copy of the reply in whatever form (if received) from the PIO.

Do I have to pay a fee for the first appeal? 
No. You are not required to pay any fee for the first appeal. However, some state governments have prescribed a fee.

In how many days can I file my first appeal? 
You can file your first appeal within 30 days of receipt of information or within 60 days of filing RTI application (if no information received).

What if I do not receive the information after the first appeal process? 
If you do not receive information even after the first appeal then you can take the matter forward to the second appeal stage.

What is a second appeal? 
A second appeal is the last option under the RTI Act to get the information requested. You can file second appeal with the Information Commission. For appeals against Central Government Departments, you have Central Information Commission (CIC). For every state Government, there is a State Information Commission.

Is there a form for the second appeal? 
No there is no form for filing a second appeal (but some state governments have prescribed a form for second appeal too). Draft your appeal application on a normal sheet of paper addressed to the Central or State Information Commission. Carefully read the appeal rules before drafting your second appeal. Your second appeal application can be rejected if it does not comply with the appeal rules.
Do I have to pay a fee for the second appeal? 
No. You are not required to pay any fee for the second appeal. However, some states have prescribed a fee for that.

In how many days can I file my second appeal? 
You can file your second appeal within 90 days of disposal of first appeal or within 90 days of the date, by when first appeal was to be decided.

How does this law help me in getting my work done 
How does this law work so effectively for pending works i.e. why is it that the government officials end up doing your work which they were not doing earlier?
Let us take the case of Nannu. He was not being given his ration card. But when he applied under RTI, he was given a card within a week. What did Nannu ask? He asked the following questions:
  • I filed an application for a duplicate ration card on 27th January 2004. Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?
  • According to the rules, my card should have been made in 10 days. However, it is more than three months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?
  • What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?
  • By when would I get my card now?
In normal circumstances, such an application would be thrown in a dustbin. But this law says that the Government has to reply in 30 days. If they don’t do that, their salary could be deducted. Now, it is not easy to answer these questions.

The first question is – please provide the daily progress made on my application.
There is no progress made. But the government officials cannot write in these many words that they have not acted for so many months. Else that would be admission of guilt on paper.

The next question is – please provide the names and designations of the officers who were supposed to take action on my application and who had not done so
If the government provides names and designations of the officials, their responsibility gets fixed. Any officer is most scared of fixing of responsibility against him in this manner. So, the moment one files such an application, his/her pending work is done.

What should I do after getting information? 
There cannot be one answer for that. It depends on why you asked for that information and what type of information is it. Often a lot of things start falling in place just by asking for information. For instance, you would get your passport or a ration card just by your asking for the status of your application. In many cases, roads got repaired as soon as the money spent on its repairs in the last few repairs was asked. So, seeking information and questioning the government is an important step, which in itself is complete in many cases.
But suppose you expose some corruption or wrongdoing using RTI. Then, you can complain to vigilance agencies, CBI or even file an FIR. But it is seen that the Government does not take any action against the guilty even after repeated complaints. Though one can keep up the pressure on vigilance agencies by seeking to know the status of complaints under RTI, however, the wrongdoings can also be exposed through media. However, experience has not been very encouraging at getting guilty punished. But one thing is certain. Seeking information like this and exposing wrongdoings does improve the future. The officials get a clear message that the people of that area have become alert and any wrongdoings in future would not remain hidden as they were in the past. So, their risks of getting caught increase.