The Right to Information Act offers an invaluable tool, which every person in India can use to find out information that can make their lives better. It came into force on 12 October 2005. The main object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens of India, promote transparency and to check the working of the Government and corruption in the system.
This Act covers all the states of India except Jammu and Kashmir. It covers all authorities, including the executive, legislature and judiciary; any institution or body established or constituted by an act of Parliament or a State legislature.
A person can seek any Information through this act. The act covers any kind of information in any form like records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public. This Act also gives the right to -
i. Take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records.
ii. Take certified samples of material.
iii. Obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts.
A person has to file an application under RTI. However, there is no such specific way or form in which an application is to be made. Thus, you can simply make the application on plain paper. However, some State Government Rules made under the Central Act require an application form.
Once the application is drafted, it is to be submitted to the PIO (Public Information Officer) for procuring the information. It is the PIO's obligation to provide information to the person who has requested for the information under this Act. If the request pertains to another public authority (in whole or part), it is the PIO's responsibility to transfer/forward the concerned portions of the request to a PIO of the other authority within 5 working days.
In addition, every public authority is required to designate Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) to receive RTI requests and appeals for forwarding to the PIOs of their public authority. The applicant is required to give proper details of his name and contact information but not any other reasons or justification for seeking information.
If without any reasonable cause a PIO has refused to receive an application, not furnished information within time limits, maliciously denied the request, knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information, destroyed information subject to a request, and obstructed the process the Information Commission can impose a penalty of Rs 250/- per day but which is not to be exceed by Rs 25,000/- in all.
A person who desires to seek any information under RTI act from a public authority is required to send, along with the application, a demand draft or a bankers cheque or an Indian Postal Order of Rs.10/- (Rupees ten) payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority as fee prescribed for seeking information.
The applicant may also be required to pay further fee towards the cost of providing the information, details of which shall be intimated to the applicant by the PIO as prescribed by the RTI ACT.