Today is celebrated as ‘International Right to Know Day’ across the world to promote freedom of information.
In India, the Right to Information (RTI) Act was passed in 2005, making it mandatory for the government to respond to a citizen’s request for information in the public domain.
RTI is one of the strongest legislations made for the common man, giving them a right to question any public authority and their activities. Whether it is poor maintenance of roads outside your house or water connection problems or cleanliness issues in your area or the pension process, you can ask for any information in the public domain under the RTI Act.
The Act was introduced to ensure transparency and accountability of each public authority’s work. The Act is applicable across India, with the exception of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
There is a simple procedure to be followed to file an RTI request offline, which involves the following steps:
Step 1: One needs to first identify the department in which one wishes to file an RTI plea. Depending on the subject, the request would either come under the scope of local authority, state government or central government.
Step 2: The application is to be then written or typed in Hindi, English or the particular area’s local language. One can also refer to the public information officer to write the application.
Step 3: Application is to be addressed to the Central/State Public Information Officer. The name and the complete address of the office from which one wishes to seek information is to be mentioned. The subject line should clearly mention ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005.’
Step 4: Request can then be put in with detailed, specific questions mentioning the year or period the plea falls in. One can also request for the documents or its excerpts if it is required. The documents can be obtained at a nominal charge of Rs.2 per page.
Step 5: Rs.10 is to be paid in the form of either cash, bank draft, money order or a court fee stamp to file the request. The stamp needs to be on the application. People belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category are excluded from paying the fee, after producing proof.
Step 6: Full name, address and contact details along with the email address of the applicant need to be mentioned clearly. The date as well as the town’s name needs to be stated.
Step 7: The application can then be sent by mail or handed in personally to the concerned office. Receiving an acknowledgment is a must. Be sure to keep a photocopy of the application for future reference.
Step 8: The government mandates the concerned office to respond to the request within a period of 30 days. If the same does not happen, one can file an appeal to ‘The Appellate Authority’ who are also mandated to respond within 30 days. The appeal can then be made to Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner, State/Central Information Commission.
Now, one can also file the request online, and the procedure for filing is equally simple and straightforward. The below mentioned steps need to be followed:
Step 1: First, visit the RTI Website and click on the Submit Request button. Then submit after checking I have read and understood the above guidelines option.
Step 2: The form will then appear and one can begin filling in the required details. Select the appropriate Ministry along with department. Fill in your contact details. One needs to provide the email ID to complete the request, but can also fill the mobile number (optional) if wish to receive SMS alerts.
Step 3: If an applicant has difficulty choosing the appropriate public authority, the search bar on the top can be used to locate it.
Step 4: The RTI plea can be filled right next to Text for RTI Application. The word limit is 3,000 characters as per the form. If it exceeds or a necessary document needs to be added, one can also attach the file by clicking Choose File next to Supporting Document. The PDF file can be attached of size up till 1 MB.
Step 5: The characters mentioned in the image need to be rewritten in Enter Security Code and then click Submit.
Step 6: The fee for filing the request is the same as offline, Rs.10, which can be paid in the form of debit/credit card or net banking.
Step 7: Acknowledgment with a unique registration number for the request will be shown once the payment is made. One can request for it in the form of email/SMS as well. Status for the request can then be regularly checked on the RTI page.
For more help, log on to the RTI Foundation of India.
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