Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Right to Information Act 2005-GUIDE

S.C. Maheshwari ; Secretary (Railways) BPS
Guide lines
FOR ALL STAKE HOLDERS
The right to information is implicitly guaranteed by the Constitution. However, with a
view to set out a practical regime for securing information, the Indian Parliament enacted the
Right to information Act, 2005 and thus gave a powerful tool to the citizens to get information
from the Government as a matter of right. This law is very comprehensive and covers almost all matters of governance and has the widest possible reach, being applicable to Government at all levels- Union, State and Local bodies as well as recipients of government grants.
2. The Act requires the Government to compile a guide in easily comprehensible form and
to update it from time to time. The Government has already published four guides in the past.
one each for the information seekers, the public authorities, the Central Public information
Officers and the Appellate Authorities. Here is an updated consolidated guide for the use of all stake-holders & information seekers
3. Contents of this guide are specifically relevant in relation to the Central Government but
are equally applicable to the State Governments except in relation to rules about payment of fee or deciding of appeals by the information Commissions. It may be noted that this guide uses the term Public information Officer in place of Central Public Information Office/State Public information Officer. Likewise Assistant Public information Officer has been used for Central Assistant Public information Officer/State Assistant Public information Officer and information Commission for Central information Commission/State information Commission except where it was considered necessary to make specific reference to the Central Public information
Officer/Central information Commission etc. The Departmental Appellate Authority has been
referred to as First Appellate Authority in as much as the first appeal lies with him.
Object of the Right to information Act
4. The basic object of the Right to information Act is to empower the citizens, promote
transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.
What is information?
5. Information is any material in any form. It includes records, documents, memos, e-mails,
Opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers,
Samples, models, data material held in any electronic form. It also includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public authority under any law for the time being in force.
What is a Public Authority?
6. A "public authority" is any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted by or under the Constitution; or by any other law made by the Parliament or a State Legislature; or by notification issued or order made by the Central Government or a State Government. The bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Central Government or a State Government and non-Government organizations substantially financed by the Central Government or a State Government also fall within the definition of public authority. The financing of the body or the NGO by the Government may be direct or indirect.
Public information Officer
7. Public authorities have designated some of its officers as Public information Officer.
They are responsible to give information to a person who seeks information under the RTI Act.
Assistant Public information Officer
8. These are the officers at sub-divisional level to whom a person can give his RTI
application or appeal. These officers send the application or appeal to the Public information Officer of the public authority or the concerned appellate authority. An Assistant Public information Officer is not responsible to supply the information.
9. The Assistant Public information Officers appointed by the Department of Posts in
various post offices are working as Assistant Public information Officers for all the public
authorities under the Government of India.
Right to information under the Act
10. A citizen has a right to seek such information from a public 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 notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. It is important to note that only such information can be supplied under the Act which already exists and is held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. The Public information Officer is not supposed to create information: or to interpret information; or to solve the problems raised by the applicants; or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions.
11. The Act gives the citizens a right to information at par with the Members of Parliament and the Members of State Legislatures. According to the Act, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
12. A citizen has a right to obtain information from a public authority in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through print-outs provided such information is already stored in a computer or in any other device from which the information may be e-mailed or transferred to diskettes etc.
13. The information to the applicant should 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 or preservation of the records, supply of information in that form may be denied.
14. In some cases, the applicants expect the Public information Officer to give information in some particular proforma devised by them on the plea that they have a right to get information in the form in which it is sought. It need be noted that the provision in the Act simply means that if the information is sought in the form of photocopy, it shall be provided in the form of photocopy, or if it is sought in the form of a floppy, it shall be provided in that form subject to the conditions given in the Act. It does not mean that the PI0 shall re-shape the information. This is substantiated by the definition of the term 'right to information' as given in the Act, according to which, it includes right to obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through print-outs provided such information is already stored in a computer or in any other device. Everywhere in the Act, the word 'form' has been used to represent this meaning.
15. Some information Seekers request the Public information Officers to cull out information
from some document(s) and give such extracted information to them. A citizen has a right to get 'material' from a public authority which is held by or under the control of that public authority. The Act, however, does not require the Public information Officer to deduce some conclusion from the 'material' and supply the 'conclusion' so deduced to the applicant. It means that the
Public information Officer is required to supply the 'material' in the form as held by the public
authority, but not to do research on behalf of the citizen to deduce anything from the material
and then supply it to him.
Right to information Vis-à-vis other Acts
16. The RTI Act has over-riding effect vis-à-vis other laws inasmuch as the provisions of the
RTI Act would have effect not withstanding anything inconsistent there with contained in the
Official Secrets Act. 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument
having effect by virtue of any law other than the RTI Act.
Supply of information to Associations etc.
17. The Act gives the right to information only to the citizens of India. It does not make
provision for giving information to Corporations, Associations, Companies etc. which are legal entities/persons, but not citizens. However, if an application is made by an employee or office bearer of any Corporation, Association, Company, NGO etc. indicating his name and such employee/office bearer is a citizen of India, information may be supplied to him/her. In such cases, it would be presumed that a citizen has sought information at the address of the
Corporation etc.
Fee for Seeking information
18. A person who desires to seek some information from a public authority is required to
send, along with the application, a demand draft or a banker's cheque or an Indian Postal Order of Rs.101- (Rupees ten), payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority as fee
prescribed for seeking information. The payment of fee can also be made by way of cash to the Accounts Officer of the public authority or to the Assistant Public information Officer against proper receipt.
19. 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 PI0 as prescribed by the Right to lnformation (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005. Rates of fee as prescribed'in the Rules are given below:
(a) Rupees two (Rs. 21-) for each page ( in A-4 or A-3 size paper) created or copied;
(b) actual charge or cost price of a copy in larger size paper;
(c) actual cost or price for samples or models;
(d) for information provided in diskette or floppy, rupees fifty (Rs.501-) per diskette or floppy;
and
(e) for information provided in printed form, at the price fixed for such publication or
rupees two per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication.
20. As already pointed out, a citizen has a right to inspect the records of a public authority.
For inspection of records, the public authority shall charge no. fee for the first hour. But a fee of rupees five (Rs.51-) for each subsequent hour (or fraction thereof) shall be charged.
21. If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, he is not required to pay any fee. However, he should submit a proof in support of his claim to belong to the below poverty line. The application not accompanied by the prescribed fee of Rs.101- or proof of the applicant's belonging to below poverty line, as the case may be, shall not be a valid application under the Act. It may be pointed out that there is no bar on the public authority to supply information in response to such applications. However, provisions of Act would not apply to such cases.

Format of Application
22. There is no prescribed format 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.
23. The information seeker is not required to give reasons for seeking information
Information Exempted From Disclosure
24. Sub-section (1) of section 8 and section 9 of the Act enumerate the types of information which is exempt from disclosure. Sub-section (2) of section 8, however, provides that information exempted under sub-section (1) or exempted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure even weighs the harm to the protected interest.
25.The information which, in normal course, is exempt from disclosure under sub-section(1) of Section 8 of the Act, would cease to be exempted if 20 years have lapsed after occurrence of the incident to which the information relates. However, the following types of information would continue to be exempt and there would be no obligation, even after lapse of 20 years, to give any citizen-
(i) information disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and
integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State,
relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence;
(ii) information the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament
or State Legislature; or
(iii) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers,
Secretaries and other Officers subject to the conditions given in proviso to clause (i)
of sub-section(1) of Section 8 of the Act.
Record Retention Schedule and the Act
26. The Act does not require the public authorities to retain records for indefinite period. The records need be retained as per the record retention schedule applicable to the concerned  public authority. Information generated in a file may survive in the form of an OM or a letter or in any other form even after destruction of the file/ record. Section 8(3) of the Act requires furnishing of information so available after the lapse of 20 years even if such information was exempt from disclosure under subsection(1) of Section 8.
Assistance Available to the Applicant
27. If a person is unable to make a request in writing, he may seek the help of the Public
information Officer to write his application and the Public information Officer should render him reasonable assistance. Where a decision is taken to give access to a sensorily disabled person
to any document, the Public information Officer, shall provide such assistance to the person as
may be appropriate for inspection.
Time Period for Supply of information
28.ln normal course, information to an applicant shall be supplied within 30 days from the
receipt of application by the public authority. If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours. In case the application is sent through the
Assistant Public information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, five days shall be
added to the period of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be. Further details in this regard are given in the chapter, 'For the Public information Officers.'
29.lf 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 Public
information Officer. Such an appeal, should be filed within a period of 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 Public information Officer 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.
30. If the first 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 Central 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 appellant.
Complaints
31. If any person is unable to submit a request to a Public information Officer either by
reason that such an officer has not been appointed by the concerned public authority; or the
Assistant Public information Officer has refused to accept his or her application or appeal for
forwarding the same to the 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 incomplete, misleading or false information, he can make a complaint to the information Commission.
Disposal of Appeals and Complaints by the CIC
32. The Central information Commission decides the appeals and complaints and conveys its
decision to the appellant /complainant and first appellate authority1 Public information Officer.
The Commission may decide an appeal /complaint after hearing the parties to the
Appeal/complaint or by inspection of documents produced by the appellant/complainant and
Public Information Officer 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 the date of hearing to the appellant or the complainant at least seven clear days before the date of hearing. The appellant/complainant has the
discretion to be present in person or through his authorized representative at the time of hearing or not to be present.
Third Party information
33. Third party in relation to the Act means a person other than the citizen who has made
request for information. The definition of third party includes a public authority other than the public authority to whom the request has been made.
Disclosure of Third Party information
34. information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, is exempt from disclosure. Such information should not be disclosed unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
35. In regard to a third party information which the third party has treated as confidential, the Public information Officer should follow the procedure as given in the chapter 'FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICERS'. The third party should be given full opportunity to put his case for non-disclosure if he desires that the information should not be disclosed.


Guide Lines

FOR INFORMATION SEEKERS
Method of seeking a information
A citizen who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an
application to the Public information Officer of the concerned public authority in writing in
English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made. The
application should be precise and specific. He should make payment of application fee at the
time of submitting the application as prescribed in the Fee Rules. The applicant can send the
application by post or through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the
public authority. The application can also be sent through Assistant Public information
Officer.
Application to the concerned Public Authority:
2. The applicant should make application to the concerned public authority. It is advised
that he should make all efforts to ascertain as to which is the public authority concerned with the information and should send application to the Public information Officer of that public authority.
3. It is observed that some applicants seek information in respect of many subjects by way
of one application. It creates problem for the Public information Officer as well as the applicant.
The applicant should, therefore, see to it that by way of one application, he seeks information in respect of one subject only.
Fee for Seeking information
4. The applicant, along with the application, should send application fee to the Public
information Officer. In case of Government of India prescribed application fee is Rs. 101- which can be paid through a demand draft or a banker's cheque or an Indian Postal Order payable to
the Accounts Officer of the public authority. The payment of fee can also be made by way of
cash to the Accounts Officer of the public authority or to the Assistant Public information Officer against proper receipt.
5. 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 Public information Officer. The fee so demanded can be paid the same way as application fee.
6. If the applicant belongs to below poverty line (BPL) category, he is not required to pay
any fee. However, he should submit a proof in support of his claim to belong to the below
poverty line. The application not accompanied by the prescribed application fee or proof of the applicant's belonging to below poverty line, as the case may be, shall not be a valid application under the Act.
Format of Application
7. There is no prescribed format of application f or 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.
Filing of Appeal
8. An applicant can file an appeal to the first appellate authority if information is not
supplied to him 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. Such an appeal, should be filed within a
period of 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 Public information Officer 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.
9. 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 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 appellant.
10. The appeal made to the Central information Commission should contain the following
information: -

(i)  Name and address of the appellant;
(ii)Name and address of the Public information Officer against the decision of whom the
appeal is preferred;
(iii)Particulars of the order including number, if any, against which the appeal is preferred;
(iv)Brief facts leading to the appeal;
(v)If the appeal is preferred against deemed refusal, particulars of the application, including
number and date and name and address of the Public information Officer to whom the
application was made;
(vi)Prayer or relief sought;
(vii)Grounds for prayer or relief;
(viii)Verification by the appellant; and
(ix)Any other information, which the Commission may deem necessary for deciding the
appeal.
11. The appeal made to the Central information Commission should be accompanied by the following documents:
(i) Self-attested copies of the orders or documents against which appeal is made;
(ii) Copies of the documents relied upon by the appellant and referred to in the appeal; and
(iii) An index of the documents referred to in the appeal.

Appeal is required to be made in 5 copies Two copies to be submitted to CIC One copy is required to be sent to PIO & one copy to  Ist appellate authority 5th copy to be retained as office copy. Proof of having sent the copies to PIO & the Ist appellate authority is to be attached with CIC copies.

Address of CICAugust Kranti Bhavan,
Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi
- 110 066  &  Old JNU Campus, New Delhi - 110 067. Phone:26161137 Fax: 26186536
For any other information, please contact:
Deputy Secretary & Joint Registrar
310, August Kranti Bhawan,
Central Information Commission, 
New Delhi 110066
Telephone & Fax: 011-26717354

Email: pkp.shreyaskar@nic.in, rti@india.gov.in

Filing of Complaints
12. A person can make a complaint to the information Commission if he is unable to submit a request to a Public information Officer either by reason that such an officer has not been appointed by the concerned public authority; or the Assistant Public information Officer has refused to accept his or her application or appeal for forwarding the same to the 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 incomplete, misleading or false information.


Sample Application seeking information under RTI Act 2005 from Central Govt. Ministries/departments

To

The PIO/(Designation of Head of the Concerned office/department if PIO’s address is not known)

Subject: Disclosure of information under RTI Act 2005

Please arrange to provide following information in print form :

1.
2.
3.

A cross postal order for Rs 10/- is enclosed towards initial fee under RTI Act 2005
Incase desired information is not held by you ,this request may be forwarded to concerned authority U/S 6(3) RTI Act 2005 under advice to undersigned.


Signature, Name & address of applicant                                     DA/ postal order

Note :1.{ Postal order to be endorsed in the name of Account officer of concerned Ministry/ department/ office ( Incase of Ministries it may be in the name of Pay & Accounts officer,in case of Rly.: When seeking information at Divisional level P.O should be in the name of Sr.DFM ,incase of Zonal Rly. Make it payable to FA &CAO & in case of Rly.Bd; It should be payable to P & A officer Ministry of Railway) }
2. You can only seek information and can not make a complaint. However you can first send a representation detailing your grievance and if you don’t get response in reasonable time. Seek disclosure of  status/action taken w.r to your representation.


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