RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND PROCEDURE TO FILE RTI
Author: Nardhana R Bhuvana
To be simply put, the Right to Information is nothing but one of the rights which is enshrined under the Constitution of India towards every citizen that they have the right to seek, access, and gain information. To ensure every citizen acknowledges this right of theirs and also to make sure that no citizen is ever denied or stripped off this right, The Right to Information Act, shortly abbreviated as the RTI Act was passed by the Parliament of India on 15th June 2005 and it officially came into force on 13th October 2005. This Act is being extended and is applicable all over every State and Union Territory in the region of India, with Jammu and Kashmir alone being the exception. Right to Information Act, 2005 gives every citizen of India to demand and get to know information that concerns any public authority or any public institution. This also includes Non-Governmental Organizations or any organization that runs due to the funds and aids granted by the Indian Government.
In Right to Information Act, 2005, under Sec. 2(f), it is quite clearly articulated as to what is information according to this Act. Under Sec. 2(f), Information means any material in any form, including the following: 1) Records 2) Documents 3) Memos 4) E-Mails 5) Opinions 6) Advice 7) Press releases 8) Orders 9) Circulars 10) Logbooks 11) Papers 12) Reports 13) Samples 14) Models 15) Data Material in electronic form and also information that is related to private bodies which is possible for a public authority to access it under any other law which for the current time in force.
Under Sec. 2(j) of the Act, it is listed as to under Right to Information, what are the powers available for the citizen to be exercised and they are as follows: 1) Right to inspect works, documents, and records 2) To take notes or extracts or else copies of documents or records that are certified 3) To acquire certified materials or its samples 4) To obtain information and presented in the format the citizen prefers such as Printouts, Diskettes, Floppies, Tapes, Video Cassettes or any other electronic form can also be obtained through the help of Printouts.
Tracing back the history of how the Right to Information got originated, it can be said that it all started due to the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) movement. The key cause behind this movement was that the dishonesty and corruption occurring in the books of the village accounts via false entries was proving to be alarming and desperate for honesty and transparency about information concerning the accounts and minimum wages provided to them, this movement started and rectification of those entries and official information which is recorded in the Government files were demanded under this movement and thus RTI Act was born, being a boon and relief to the citizens, breaking the barriers of dishonesty, misappropriation, and corruption and sweeping the gates to welcome transparency and fairness. Before the enforcement of this Act, disclosing information was prohibited under Official Secrets Act 1923. After passing off RTI Act, 1925, this Act and even other special laws were being relaxed.
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 the real sense. It is also beneficial for the nation if it boosts well-informed citizens so that they are better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable.The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government. This initiative was taken forth by the Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions. They are the ones who started e-RTI Portal and they ensure it proceeds smoothly and successfully without any disruptions. Through this portal, they give their best to eliminate all hindrances citizens face due to a lack of awareness and information. Since Right to Information falls under the golden triangle of fundamental rights, i.e, Article 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, Right to Information is deemed to be a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution.
It is a must for every citizen to know the procedure to file an RTI Application. Firstly, the citizen must visit the link (https://rtionline.gov.in)
1. Select submit request option
2. Next, the page will guide you to use the portal and you have to consent to all T&C
3. RTI Request Form Screen would get displayed and he should select the Ministry or Department from where he wants to obtain information
4. Mobile number and other mandatory field areas are to be provided and the applicant will receive SMS Alerts, updating the status of his request.
5. In case he falls under the Below Poverty Line category then the applicant should select BPL Category and he need not pay the fee stipulated under this Act
6. After applying, he would be issued a unique registration number, which can be used for future references.
7. If he is a non-BPL then he should pay a fee of Rs. 10
8. RTI Request Application limit is 3000 characters
9. Make Payment Option is to be selected
10. The payment can be made using Internet Banking or debit or credit card
11. Once the payment process is over, the applicant will be redirected back to RTI Online Portal.
12. On submission of the application,an email and SMS alert will be sent to the applicant
The application filed through this web portal would reach electronically to the nodal officer of the concerned Ministry/Department, who would transmit the RTI application electronically to the concerned Central or State Public Information Officer. The time limit is 30 days from the date of application and if it is information concerning the life and liberty of an individual then he should get it within 48 hours from the time he applied, in case the application is transferred, then it will take another additional five days.
RTI Applications can be rejected if:
1. It affects the sovereignty and integrity of the nation or the scientific, strategic, or economic interests get affected too, leading to incitement of an offence. This is provided under Sec. 2(8)(a) of the Act
2. It is forbidden to be published by any court, tribunal or if disclosure may constitute contempt of court under Sec.2.(8)(b) of the Act
3. It includes information such as trade secrets, commercial confidence, and intellectual property under Sec.2.(8)(d) of the Act