THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT,2005 (A GUIDE FOR INFORMATION SEEKER)
An Act passed by parliament stating-
- Empowerment of every citizen from public authorities
- Detailed procdure as to how all public authorities are:-
- To disclose information information on their own.
- To provide information on request(demand).
- Constitution of information commission for dispute settlement between citizen and public authorities all right to information.
- Roll of Govt.in ‘empowering the citizen’ right to information including the capacity building and awareness.
- How a citizen can exercise right to information.
The objective of RTI Act,2005:
The objective is to set out a practical regime (system) of Right To Information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transperancy and accountability in the working of every public authority and constitution of information commissions(to adequate between citizens and public authorities for RTI enforcement)
The Act come into force:
I t came into force fully on the 12th Oct,2005(120th day of its enactment on 5th June 2005);while some provisions viz .oligations of public authorities[Section4(1)designation of public information officers and Asstt.Public information officers[Section5(1)& 5(2)],constitution of central information commission [Section (12)& (13)],constitution of state information[Section (15)& (16)],non applicability of the Act to intelligents and security organizations [Section (24)] and power to make rules to carry out the provisions of the Act[Section 27 & 28] came into force since 15th 2005, the date of enactment.
What is information:
Under section 2(f) of RTI Act,2005 “Information” means any material in any form including records,documents,memos,email,opinion,advices, press releases,circulars,orders,log book,contracts,reports,papers,samples,models,data materials held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.
Right to information under the Act:
A citizen has a right to seek such information from apublic authority which is held by the public authority or which is held under its control.This right includes inspection of work ,documents and records; taking noted extracts or certified copies of documents or records ; taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority.
The public authority under RTI,Act is not supposed to create information;or to interprete information or to solved the problems raised by the applicants; or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions.Only squch information can be had under the Act with already exists with the public authority.
A citizen has a right to obtain information in the form of diskettes,floppies,tapes, video cassettes or any other electronic mode or through printout provided information is alredy stored in a computer or in any other device from which the information may be transferred to diskettes etc.
The information to the applicant shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought.However,if the supply of information sought in a particular form would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or may cause harm to the safety for the preservation of the records,supply of information in that form may be denied.
The Act gives the right to information only to the citizens of india.It doesnot make provisions for giving informations to corporations, associations,companies etc.which are legal entities /persons but not citizens.However,if an application is made by an employee or office barrier of any corporation,association,company,NGO etc.who is also a citizen of India,information shall be supplied to him/her ,provided the applicant gives his /her full name.In such cases,it will be presumed that a citizen has sought information at the address of the corporation.
Exemption from Disclosure:
The right to seek information from a public authority is not absolute. Section 8 & 9 of the Act enumerate the categories of information which are exempt from disclosure. At time Schedule II of the Act contains the names of Intelligence and Security Organisations which are exempt from the purview of the Act.The exemption of the organizations,however,does not cover supply of information relating to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
The applicants should abstain from seeking information which is exempt under Section 8 and 9 and also from the organizations included in the Second Schedule except information relating to allegations of corruptions and human rights violations.
State Public Information Officers:
Application for seeking information should be made to an officer of the public authority who is designated as Stste Public Information Officer(SPIO). All the public authorities have designated their State Public Information Officers and have posted their particulars on their respective web-sites. This information is also available on the “RTI PORTAL”(www.rti.gov.in) Person seeking information are advised to refer to the web-site of the concerned SPIO. If it is found difficult to identify or locate the concerned State Public Information Officer of a public authority,application may be sent to the State Public Information Officer without specifying the name of the SPIO at the address of the public authority.
Assistance Available from SPIOs:
The State Public Information Officer shall render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking information.If a person is unable to make arequest in writing,he may seek the help of the SPIO to write his applications.Where a decision is taken to give access to a sensorily disabled person to any document,the State Public Information Officer,shall provide such assistance to enable access to information, including providing such assistance to the person as may be appropriate for the inspection.
Sou Moto Disclosure:
The Act makes it obligatory for every public authority to make suo-motu disclosure in respect of the particulars of its organization,functions, duties etc.as provided in section 4 of the Act. Besides,some public authorities under the state Government have published other information and have posted them on their websites.
Methods of Seeking Information:
A citizen who desires to obtain any information under the Act,should make an application to the State Public Information Officer(SPIO) of the concerned public authority in writing in English or in the official language of the area in which the application is made.The applicant can send the application by post or through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the public authority.
Fee for Seeking Information:
The applicant,along with the application,should send a demand draft or a banker’s check or an Indian Postal Order or Non-judiciary Stamp of Rs 10/-,payable to the authorized person of the public authority as fee prescribed for seeking information.The payment of fee can also be made by way of cash to the authorized person of the public authority or to the State Assistant Public Information Officer against proper receipt.
The application may also be required to pay futher fee towards the cost of providing the information, details of which shall be intimated to the applicant by the SPIO as prescribed by the Assam Right to Information (Regulation of fee and post) rules,2016 to be read with write to information (Regulation of fee and post) amendment Rules,2007.Rates of fee as prescribed in the rules are given below.
- Rupees two (Rs 2/-) for each page (in A-4 or A-3 size paper) created or copied.
- Actual charge or cost price of a copy in large size paper.
- Actually cost or prize for samples or models
- For inspection of records,no fee for the first hour;and a fee of rupeess five (Rs 5/-) for each 15( fifteen ) minutes (or fraction thereof ).
- For information provided in diskette or floppy rupees(Rs 50/-) per diskette or floppy; and
- For information provided in printed form at the prize fixed for such publication or rupees two per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication.
If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, he is not required to pay any fee.However, he should submit a prove in support of his claim to belong to the below proverty line.The application not accompanied by the prescribed fee of Rs 10/- or proof of the applicants belonging to below poverty line as the case may be ,shall not be a valid application under the act thereof ,doesnot entitled the applicant to get information.
Format of application:
There is no prescribed form of application for seeking information.The application can be made on plain paper. The application should,however,have the name and complete postal address of the applicant.Even in cases where the information is sought electronically ,the application should contain name and postal address of the applicant. The information seeker is not required to give reasons for seeking information.
Disposal of the request:
The SPIO is required to provide information to the applicant within 30 days of the receipt of a valid application. If the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person ,the onformation shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request.If the SPIO is of the view that the information sought for cannot be supplied under the provisions of the Act, he would reject the application.However,while rejecting the application ,he shall inform the applicant the reasons for such rejections and the particulars of the appellate authority.He would also inform the applicant the period within which appeal may be preferred.
If an applicant is required to make payment for obtaining information,in addition to the application fee,the SPIO would inform the applicant about the details of farther fees along with the calculation made to arrived at the amount payable by the applicant.After receiving such a communication from the SPIO, the applicant may deposit the amount by way of cash against proper receipt or by Demand draft or by Bankers cheque or by Indian Postal Order or Non Judiciary Stamp in favour of the authorized person of the concerned public authority.The SPIO is under no obligation to make available the information if the additional fee intimated by him is not deposited by the applicant.
Where an additional fee is required to be paid , the period intervening between the dispatch of the intimation regarding payment of additional fee and payment of fee by the applicant shall be excluded for the purpose of computing the period of thirty days within which the SPIO is required to furnish the information.
If the SPIO fails to send decision on the request for the information within the period of 30 days or 48 hours, as the case may be,the information may be deem to have been refused.
If an applicant is not supplied information within the prescribed time of thirty days or 48 hours as the case may be ,or is not satisfied with the information furnished to him,he may prefer an appeal to the first appellate authority who is an officer senior in rank to the SPIO.Such an appeal,should be filed within a period or thirty days from the date on which the limit of 30 days of supply of information is expired or from the date on which the information or decision of the SPIO is received.
The appellate authority of the public authority shall dispose of the appeal within a period of thirty days or in exceptional cases within 45 days of the receipt of the appeal.
If the appellate authority fails to pass an order on the appeal within the prescribed period or if the appellant is not satisfied with the order of the first appellate authority, he may prefer a second appeal with the State Information Commission within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made by the first appellate authority or was actually received by the applicant. The appeal made to the State Information Commission should contain the following information:-
- Name and address of the applicant;
- Name and address of the State Public Information Officer against the decision of whom the appeal is preferred;
- Particulars of the order including number, if any, against which the appeal is preferred
- Brief facts leading to the appeal;
- If the appeal if preferred against deemed refusal, particulars of the application, including number and date and name and address of the State Public Information Officer to whom the application was made;
- Prayer or relief sought ;
- Grounds for prayer or relief;
- Verification by the applicant; and
- Any other information which the commission may deem necessary for deciding the Appeal.
The appeal made to State Information Commission should be accompanied by the following documents:
- Self-attached copies of the orders or documents against which appeal is made ;
- Copies of the documents relied upon by the applicant and referred to the appeal ; and
- An index of the documents referred to the appeal.
If any person is unable to submit a request to a State Public Information Officer either by reason that such an Officer has not been appointed by the concern public authority or the Assistant State Public Information Officer has refused to accept his or applicant accept his or her application or appeal for forwarding the same to the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be ; or he has been refused access to any information requested by him under the RTI Act; or he has not been given a response to a request for information within the time limit specified in the Act; or he has been required to pay an amount of fee which he considers unreasonable ,or he believes that he has been given complete misleading or false information, he can make a complain to the State Information Commission.
Disposal of Appeals and complains by the State Information Commission(SIC):
The State Information Commission decides the appeals and complains by conveys its decision to the Appellant /Complaint and first appellate authority /SPIO. The Commission may decide an appeal/complain after hearing the parties to the appeal/complain or by inspection of documents produced by the appellant/complaint an SPIO or such senior Officer of the public authority who decided the first appeal. If the Commission chooses to hear the parties before deciding the appeal or the complaint, the commission will inform of the date of hearing to the appellant or the complaint at least seven clear days before the date of hearing. The appellant/complaint has the discretion to be present in person or through his authorized representative at the time of hearing or may opt not to be present.
Given below are the addresses of some important websites which contain substantial information relevant to the right to information:
- Portal of the government of India (http://indiaimage.nic.in).
- Portal on the Right to Information (www.rti.gov.in).
- Website of the State Information Commission (sicassam.in).