As per section 6(1) of the RTI Act, 2005, any citizen who wants information from Public Authority can submit request for information to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, (hereinafter referred as PIO) designated by the concerned public authority. The procedures to submit request for information offline to the Central and State Public Authorities are different. In this article, I will explain how to file an RTI in India offline to the Central Public Authorities. To know how to file an RTI in India offline to the State Public Authorities, you may visit Procedure to file RTI offline to State Public Authorities. To know the procedure to file RTI online, you may visit How to File an RTI Application online?
First of all I will explain various ways to submit request for information to the PIO, and finally explain how to file an RTI in India offline.
Ways to file an RTI Application in India offline:
You should know this while learning how to file an RTI in India offline. You can submit request for information to the PIO in following ways:
- directly to the PIO
- to the PIO through APIO
- through other Public Authority, and
- through Central Assistant Public Information Officer (CAPIO) at designated post offices.
Let me explain each ways for more clarity and understanding.
1. Directly to the PIO:
You may submit RTI Application directly to the PIO either by hand or through Post Office.
i). Directly to the PIO by Hand:
If the office of the PIO is near your location, you can go there and submit your RTI Application to the PIO personally. In this case, you can pay Fees for RTI by Cash. After submitting your application to the PIO, don’t forget to take acknowledgement of submission from PIO. The best way to take acknowledgement is to take copy of your RTI Aapplication and ask PIO to sign with date on the copy. This way, you will have both copy of application and acknowledgement in single paper.
ii). Directly to the PIO through Post Office:
If the office of the PIO is not near your location, or you can’t go there personally, then you may send your RTI Application to the PIO through Registered/Speed Post. Before dispatching your application, take photo copy of your Application for reference. After booking your consignment, the post office will provide you the receipt of booking. Keep the copy of application and booking receipt safely. After one week of dispatch, track online the delivery status of your Registered/Speed Post at Track Consignment. If your application is delivered, take the screenshot of delivery status and print it. Keep the copy of RTI Application, booking receipt from post office, and online tracking status for your reference.
2. To the PIO through APIO:
You may also send your RTI Application to the PIO through designated APIO. You can submit your RTI Application to the APIO either by hand or through post office. After receipt of your application, the APIO shall forward your application forthwith to the PIO. The office of APIO has been created only to facilitate receiving of RTI Application or Appeals or Complaint at local level. The only responsibility APIO has is to forward your application to the concerned PIO or First Appellate Authority or CIC or SIC.
You should submit RTI Application to the PIO through APIO only when:
i) You don’t know the address of the PIO, but know the address of APIO, or
ii) Office of APIO is in your city and you can submit application to the APIO by hand, but office of the PIO is in different city. This way, you could save your money, which you would spend in sending application to the PIO through Registered/Speed Post.
If the offices of both APIO and PIO are in the same city, then it is bad idea to submit application through the APIO, because in this case time limit to receive information will be 30+5=35 days, instead of 30 days.
3. To the PIO through other Public Authority: (Not recommended)
This way of filing RTI Application should be reluctantly used. You should use this way only when you don’t know or can’t find the address of either PIO or APIO of the concerned public authority. To file RTI Application this way, you need to simply send your RTI Application to the PIO of the most related Public Authority. The PIO, who received your application, shall forward your application under section 6(3) of the RTI Act to the PIO of the concerned Public Authority within 5 days of receiving your application. You should avoid this way of filing RTI Application because this troubles the PIO of unconcerned Public Authority and add additional delay of around 12 days (5 days for PIO to forward your application under section 6(3) + postal delays of 2-7 days in reaching application from receiving PIO to the concerned PIO) in getting reply to your RTI Application.
4. To the PIO through ACPIO at designated post offices:
You can also file RTI offline to the Central Public Authorities through designated Post Offices. To know how to file an RTI offline through designated post offices, please visit Procedure to file RTI offline through Post Office.
These are the ways in which you can submit request for information to the public authorities. Now, let me explain how to file an RTI in India offline.
How to file an RTI in India offline to the Central Public Authorities: Step by Step Procedure
Follow below steps to know how to file an RTI in India offline to the Central Public Authorities:
1. Finalize what information do you want, and the information is held by or under control of which public authority.
2. Find the address of CPIO/PIO/APIO/CAPIO, as the case may be, from the website of the concerned Public Authority. It is not mandatory to address the RTI Application by name of the PIO. You may simply write “To, The Public Information Officer”.
3. Write your RTI Application in English, Hindi or the official language of the area in which application is being made. RTI Act doesn’t provide any specific format for RTI Application. You can write your application in your own way. If you don’t know how to write, then you may refer to the Sample RTI Application Form. You can write application either through electronic means or by hand on a plain paper. Try to write your application in clear and concise way because many times PIO rejects request for information by simply telling that information sought is not clear and understandable.
Important point to remember while writing your application:
Applicant is not required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. However, I recommend you to explain the reasons for seeking information, which is otherwise exempt under the RTI Act, to strengthen your case. For example:
i) The public interest involved in seeking information, which is otherwise exempt under the RTI Act.
ii) How corruption and human rights are involved in respect of organisations mentioned under Schedule II, which are beyond the purview of RTI Act.
iii) How the life or liberty of a person is at risk, if the ‘life or liberty’ provision under section 7(1) is invoked, etc.
4. Pay the Fees of Rs. 10/- through Indian Postal Order (IPO)/ Demand Draft/ Banker’s Cheque/ Court Fees/ Cash (If submitting Application by hand). You can buy IPO from Post Office. If you are unable to get IPO from Post Office, buy e-IPO online. To know the procedure to buy e-IPO, you may visit How to get Indian Postal Order (IPO) Online.
Don’t confuse Banker’s Cheque with Cheque (personal). Both are different thing. To know the difference between banker’s cheque and cheque (personal), you may visit Difference between Banker’s Cheque/Demand Draft, and Cheque.
5. Take the photo copy of your application and proof of fees payment for reference.
6. Submit your original RTI Application, along with Fees, to the PIO in any of the ways explained above.
i) If you submit your application by hand, never forget to take acknowledgement from PIO because you will require proof of submission.
ii) If you submit application to PIO through Post Office, then do following:
a) Keep postal receipt that you receive from post office after dispatching your RTI Application.
b) Online track delivery status of your Registered/ Speed Post after one week of dispatch by visiting Track Consignment.
c) Take Screenshot/Print Out of the delivery Status, if it has been delivered, as a proof of on what date PIO received your Application.
This way, you have submitted your request for information. Now, wait for Reply/Information from the PIO. To know the time limit within which PIO shall reply, you may visit How to calculate time limit to get information under RTI.
The above procedure details you about how to file an RTI in India offline. You can understand complete RTI Act through Flow Chart at Understand RTI Act, 2005 through Flow Chart.
What to do if you did not receive reply from the PIO within specified time, or you received reply from PIO but are not satisfied with the reply? You may submit First Appeal before First Appellate Authority under section 19(1) of the RTI Act. To know the step by step procedure to submit First Appeal, you may visit How to File First Appeal under RTI.