How to File Complaint under RTI Act?: Step by Step Procedure

How to File Complaint under RTI ActEvery Act or Law contains clause for protection of its provisions against non-compliance, and so does RTI Act, 2005. Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005 assigns duty and power to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission (hereinafter referred as CIC or SIC), as the case may be, to protect the RTI Act against non-compliance by the Public Authority. We can say, CIC or SIC acts as Guardian of the RTI Act. In this article, I will explain when to file and how to file complaint under RTI Act.

Grounds for submitting Complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005

Before explaining how to file complaint under RTI Act, let me provide you grounds for complaint. You may file complaint under section 18 before CIC or SIC, as the case may be, in following circumstances:

(a)You have been unable to submit RTI Application to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer (hereinafter referred as CPIO or SPIO), as the case may be, because of any of below reasons:

(i) No CPIO or SPIO has been appointed under this Act by the Public Authority; or

(ii) CPIO or SPIO has refused to receive your Request for Information; or

(iii) Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer (hereinafter referred as CAPIO or SAPIO), as the case may be, has refused to accept RTI Application for forwarding the same to the CPIO or SPIO, as the case may be.

(b) You have been unable to submit First Appeal under Section 19(1) or 19(2) to the First Appellate Authority (hereinafter referred as FAA) because of any of below reasons:

(i) No FAA has been appointed under this Act by the Public Authority; or

(ii) FAA has refused to receive your First Appeal; or

(iii) CAPIO or SAPIO, as the case may be, has refused to accept your First Appeal for forwarding the same to the FAA.

(c) You have been unable to submit Second Appeal under Section 19(3) to the CIC or SIC, as the case may be, because CAPIO or SAPIO has refused to accept your Second Appeal for forwarding the same to the CIC or SIC.

(d) CPIO or SPIO or FAA has malafidely rejected Request for Information or First Appeal, as the case may be;

(e) CPIO or SPIO or FAA has not provided reply to your RTI Application or First Appeal, as the case may be, within specified time under RTI Act;

(f) CPIO or SPIO has asked you to pay an amount of fees, which you consider unreasonable;

(g) CPIO or SPIO has provided incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act;

(h) CPIO or SPIO or FAA has malafidely refused inspection of records of public authority or has not extended reasonable cooperation during inspection of records;

(i) CPIO or SPIO or FAA or any other person directly/indirectly intimidates or ill-treats or pressurizes you or restraints you from exercising your right under the RTI Act;

(j) CPIO or SPIO or FAA or Public Authority defy orders of CIC or SIC;

(k) Public Authority has not obliged to the provisions of Section 4 (proactive disclosures) of the RTI Act;

(l) Any other situation when you have been wrongly restrained/refused access to information for which you are entitled as per provisions of the RTI Act; and

(m) Any other violations of provisions of the RTI Act by CAPIO or SAPIO or CPIO or SPIO or FAA or Public Authority.

When to submit Complaint (Time Limits for submitting Complaint) under Section 18:

RTI Act, 2005 does not provide any time limits within which you must submit complaint under section 18. You may submit complaint at various stages ranging from ‘before filing RTI Application’ to ‘after decision of CIC or SIC’. For example, you can submit complaint before filing RTI Application in situations mentioned under points (a), (i), (k), (l), and (m) above; or you can submit complaint after decision of CIC or SIC in situations mentioned under point (j). You can submit complaint without filing First Appeal.

Though RTI Act does not specify time limits for submitting complaint, you should submit complaint within reasonable time. Later in this article, I will explain in detail how to file complaint under RTI Act.

Powers and Functions of Information Commissions under Section 18 of the RTI Act:

Under section 18, CIC or SIC can initiate inquiry, and impose penalties on SAPIO or CAPIO or SPIO or CPIO or FAA or Public Authority or any other person responsible for violation of provisions of the RTI Act, but can’t direct CPIO or SPIO to furnish information. Section 18 makes the CIC or SIC guardian of RTI Act by assigning duty to CIC or SIC to protect the RTI Act against violation. This means, if anyone defies the provision of the RTI Act, then CIC or SIC can initiate enquiry and impose penalty on the person as per section 20.

Under section 18, it is the duty of CIC or SIC to receive complaint from any person in aforementioned situations. After receiving complaint, if the CIC or SIC, as the case may be, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry in respect thereof. You may note that “inquiry” has much wider scope than “hearing”.

While inquiring into the matter, CIC or SIC, as the case may be, shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), in respect of the following matters, namely:

  • summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons (any person, not only CPIO or SPIO) and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath or affidavit and to produce the documents or things;
  • requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
  • requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office;
  • issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents;
  • calling for any public record to be placed before it (not only the information requested in the complainant’s RTI Application; and
  • any other matter which may be prescribed.

In this way, CIC or SIC has been conferred with sufficient power to protect the RTI Act against violation. Now, you should know how to file complaint under RTI Act.

How to File Complaint under RTI Act:

You can lodge complaint before CIC or SIC, as the case may be, on any of the grounds mentioned above. Now, I will explain how to file complaint under RTI Act. You may follow step by step procedure provided below to file complaint before information commissions:

Step–I: Find the Address of Information Commission:

You can get the address of information commission from the website of the concerned Information Commission. You can also get the address of information commission at below link:

  • Addresses of Central/State Information Commission for submitting Second Appeal or Complaint (Coming Soon)

Step–II: Check RTI Rules of concerned Information Commission:

The Format and Fees for lodging complaint are not uniform among CIC, and SICs. For example, CIC, and some SICs do not prescribe any format for lodging complaint, but some SICs require minimum documents to be submitted along with complaint. CIC does not charge any fees for complaint, but some SICs do so. Thus, before lodging complaint, you should check the RTI Rules of concerned State. You may find the RTI Rules of Centre as well as State at RTI Rules of Central and State Information Commission.

Step–III: Write your Complaint:

Write your complaint as per format prescribed in concerned RTI Rules. If no format is prescribed, you may write your complaint in the format provided at below link:

Step–IV: Self attest all pages of complaint along with attachments:

Sign all pages of complaint along with attachments by writing word “Attested”. This is required to confirm that you verify the correctness of all the facts submitted in complaint.

Step–V: Serve copy of complaint to all persons against whom you are lodging complaint:

Take as many copies of your complaint along with attachments as the number of persons against whom you are going to lodge complaint plus two (one for yourself and other for information commission). Serve copy of complaint along with attachments to all persons against whom you are lodging complaint and preserve the proof of submission with you. You may serve copies by hand or through Registered Post/ Speed Post.

Step–VI: Submit Complaint before Information Commission:

You may submit your original complaint + one additional copy along with attachments and fees, if any, to the CIC or SIC, as the case may be, by hand or through Registered Post/ Speed Post. If you submit your complaint by hand then never forget to take acknowledgment from commission.

Step–VII: Preserve copy of complaint and proof of submission, and subsequent follow up with information commission:

Keep copy of complaint along with attachments for reference. After one week of lodging complaint, you may check the registration status of your complaint at the website of concerned information commission. If your complaint is registered take the registration number and note it on your complaint copy. If your complaint is not registered within 15 days, you may contact registry in information commission through e-mail or phone number, ask them to trace your complaint and register the same.

By now, you may have understood how to File Complaint under RTI Act. If you still have any doubt on how to file complaint under RTI Act, you may ask through comment box.

You may visit difference between Complaint under section 18 and Second Appeal under section 19 to understand the relative scope of Complaint under section 18 and Second Appeal under Section 19. Now, you may have understood when and how to file complaint under RTI Act, 2005.

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48 comments

  • vinay

    hi sir for ssc chsl typing test the percentage of mistakes committed for sc st obc hh vh oh are equal hpw partiality is this how could visually handicapped people typed as with others and alsp 100% blind people go with typing and also ssc not filling the phc category posts as 4% committed by the constitution

  • Kanu A Makwana

    Dear sir,
    I am Kanu Makwana from Gujarat, I have applied 04 application on same date to get information. But the PIO has gave unsatisfied answer on 23.08.2017 by saying ” it is questions not in information format” after received such answer from PIO I have appealed to FAA on 23.08.2017 but I realised that it will take long time to receive call from FAA and will not be favourable to me. So my question is that CAN I COMPLAIN TO SIC for same? Pl. send me format of complaint on my email.

  • amrutlal

    sir in my case the collector of stamp has made valuation of the property wrong .thanks for helping the needy like me

  • RAMESH V

    I would like to file a Complaint against FAA, MEA Dept. Do I need to send a set of Copy of Complaint & Docs. to CPIO?

  • Upender E

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you very much for your valuable, prompt and immediate response for my yesterday’s request.
    Further, will you please provide me a copy of ” guidelines issued to the central public information officer in OM.No:
    1/69/2007-IR, dated: 27-02-2008, for my guidance, along with a copy of ” Right to information rules 2012.
    I appreciate your suggestion given in one of such case is, ” to have patience when dealing with government officials, because they will try all the way to frustrate the applicant “.
    In my case also the same thing is happening. that is why I am troubling you sir, I will let you know the development,

  • chashmebuddoor

    Dear Sanjeet,
    I spent some time browsing through the website & it greatly helped me. Kindly answer my queries:
    1: I had filed an RTI, under which information was denied to me
    2: I filed 1st appeal, under which the requested information was finally released to me
    3: However, part of the information is factually false and has hurt me in my legal matters

    Should I now file a 2nd appeal or a complaint (as false information knowingly has been given)
    It would also be a great help, if you can kindly share word formats of both the 2nd appeal (section 19) and Complaint (section 18) with me on my email id.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hello Chashmebuddoor Ji,
      Thank you for your query.
      YES. You must go for Second Appeal. Second Appeal serves all purpose of complaint too. You can pray for everything (Information, Penalty, Compensation, etc.) in Second Appeal. However, it may not help you in your legal matters since disposal of Second Appeal may take long time.
      At the end of both articles, I have provided links to download .pdf version. You can download the .pdf and copy-paste in word file. If it doesn’t help, kindly inform me.
      Please Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RTIAct2005F/
      Please share my articles on your Facebook/Twitter/Google Plus/etc. so that many more people can get benefit.

      • chashmebuddoor

        Dear Sanjeet,
        Thanks for the prompt reply. Much appreciated !
        I am sharing a few more details of my case.
        1: The reply of my 1st appeal is dated 09.01.2017, which was received by me around 15.01.2017
        2:I received information from another govt department, dated 13.02.2017, which was received by me around 16.02.207. This reply contradicted the reply received under 1st appeal

        No my queries are; given the datelines; Can I file a 2nd appeal or shall I file a complaint, or both.

        And I copied & pasted the .pdf files on a word file, however lot of information was lost. Request you to kindly share the files in a word format on my email account.
        I’ll be greatly obliged

        Regards

        • You are most welcome.
          You should submit Second Appeal only because it will serve all purposes. I will send you the word file of Second Appeal by tomorrow evening. Kindly remind me.
          Does your information belong to Central Public Authority or State Public Authority?
          I request you to kindly review my blog at https://www.facebook.com/RTIAct2005F/reviews

          • chashmebuddoor

            Dear Sanjeet,

            The first RTI & 1st appeal was submitted before the PIO of the District police, whereas the second reply was received from the Income Tax department which contradicted the Police’s version.
            Do let me know, if any further information is required.

            I have already liked the page on FB 🙂

            I’ll definitely remind you tomorrow morning for the word files.

            Thanks !!

          • Ok.
            I will send you word version of Second Appeal by tomorrow evening.

          • chashmebuddoor

            Thanks Sanjeet.

            Look forward to your email. Btw, with the datelines which I have mentioned, is 1 2nd appeal before CIC maintainable (I hope that I haven’t overshot the time duration), moreover, can the CIC punish / fine the PIO for giving false information?

            Given this scenario, should I file only a 2nd appeal or a complaint as well. I want the PIO to be punished / fined for lying/ giving false information under the RTI act.

          • You may submit Second Appeal within 90 days of receipt of decision on First Appeal. You received decision on First Appeal from State Public Authority on 15.01.2017, which is outside time limit. Thus, your appeal before State Information Commission may not be maintainable.
            You received reply from PIO of Central Public Authority on 16.02.207, for which you have not submitted First Appeal. Thus, you can’t file Second Appeal before CIC. Before filing Second Appeal to CIC, you must file First Appeal before Central Public Authority. However, you have missed the time limit to submit First Appeal too.
            Thus, I feel you have only option to lodge complaint under section 18, which has no time limit. CIC can punish PIO under section 18, but can’t direct PIO to furnish information.

          • chashmebuddoor

            Thanks Sanjeet for the elucidation.

            I agree that I should file a complaint u/s 18. Please share the relevant application format in word format with me, via my email.

            Much indebted to your kind & prompt answers. More power to your initiative !

          • chashmebuddoor

            Dear Sanjeet,

            Reminder to you to kindly share the complaint format u/s 18 in a word format with me

            Thanks !

          • Thanks. I will send you tonight.

          • chashmebuddoor

            Dear Sanjeet

            Awaiting your email with the word format of complaint u/s 18 format

            Thanks..

          • Hi,
            I am Sorry for delayed response. You may download the complaint form at http://rtiact2005.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/RTI-Complaint-Format-doc.docx

          • chashmebuddoor

            Dear Sanjeet

            Thanks a ton for the doc !! Downloaded it.
            Will ping you again, if I require more assistance.

            ATB with your endeavor !

  • Capt (REtd) Jagdish Singh Jadaun

    Very nice job for guidance of general public to follow up action in a systematic way. I too got the requisite guidelines in this regard and will submit my complaint as the prescribed format given by you. I heartly commend your good job.
    Regards,

    Capt (Retd) Jagdsish Singh Jadaun (Mob- 982992606

  • Rituparno

    Sir, I have not received reply of my RTI . I have asked for some documents through RTI from NPCC Ltd. As per rules I have to pay for the documents. But I have not received any communication from NPCC regarding the payment ,neither I have received my RTI reply . Should I file my 1st appeal. what do you suggest ,Sir? I have filed the RTI on 17/12/16. CPIO forwarded it to NPCC on 28/12/16. Time frame of 30 days is over, I think.

    • Hi Rituparno,
      I feel you may submit First Appeal now. All the best.

      • Rituparno

        Sir, I have called PIO office to know the reason for the delay. They informed me that they have sent it a week ago, and I will get it within a day or two. Sir, now should I wait 2-3 days? Within which date should I file first appeal? plz suggest me sir.

        • Hi Rituparno,
          I suggest you to wait for 2-3 days. They should not delay. If you want to punish them, you may file complaint under section 18. However, wait for reply if they have sent. You may file First Appeal after receiving reply, because if you are not satisfied with reply, you will have double ground for appeal.

  • Rituparno

    thank u very much sir, for giving me your valuable time and suggestion. I will wait and get back to you again for your suggestion sir.

  • Rituparno

    Thanks for ur reply sir. I have called the CPIO, they informed me that my RTI application has been forwarded to PIO, NPCC Ltd. on 28/12/16 by speed post and one copy of that letter to me. I have received the forwarded letter on 3/01/17. When I asked the CPIO about the time frame required for the reply, he said me that it requires 30 days from the date NPCC received the forwarded letter. But I feel NPCC is intentionally delaying it. Now , I want to know , if I go to appellate authority, can NPCC official or / PIO misguide the appellate by saying that they have received the RTI application lately( because CPIO told me that postal time is not included in stipulated reply time). Plz guide me Sir. I don’t want to give the arrogant NPCC officials a chance to bypass . thanking u.

    • Rituparno

      Sir I have filed online RTI to CPIO, MoWR & RD on 17/1216. They forwarded the RTI to PIO,NPCC Ltd on 28/12/ 16. Please let me know, when I can file first appeal , if I don’t get the reply of my RTI . what will be the time frame in this case. This is my first RTI, so give me your suggestion sir. I have acquired some knowledge from ur site but unable to find out what will be the time frame for my RTI to file first appeal. thanking you sir.

      • Hi Rituparno,
        Thanks for your detailed query. Since you filed RTI on 17/12/2016, the CPIO must have forwarded that to the the concerned PIO within 5 days of receipt of your application i.e. on or before 22/12/2016 (section 6(3) of the RTI Act). However, he/she didn’t do so. This is first mistake by them.
        Secondly, the CPIO forwarded the application to the PIO on 28/12/2016, which might have been received by the concerned PIO by 03/01/2017 due to postal delay. The concerned PIO must reply to you within 30 days of the receipt of your application i.e. on or before 04/02/2017. If the PIO sends the reply by speed post, then it may take around 2-5 days to reach you. Thus, you may receive reply by 09/02/2017. Post delays must be excluded when counting the 30 days time.
        Thus, I feel you may wait for next 3 days before submitting First Appeal. Hope this helps. If you still have any query please reply.

    • Hi Rituparno,
      You may be right that officials are delaying the reply intentionally. Government organizations follow the culture of secrecy since the time of British. There must be transformation in attitude, which will take some time.
      Coming to your query, whether PIO will misguide the Appellate Authority or not will not matter. You may request First Appellate Authority to call you for personal hearing while taking decison on your First Appeal. This will give you an additional opportunity to put your points.
      I personally request you to have patience when dealing with any government officials because they will try all the way to frustrate you. Being calm and optimistic will help you to achieve your goal happily. I appreciate your initiative and interest in contributing towards transparent and accountable government. Thank You

  • Rituparno

    Sir, I have filed an RTI on 17/12/2016 seeking some info from NPCC. Received two letters from CPIO, one as acknowledgement of my RTI and a copy of letter forwarded to PIO,NPCC. But I have not received the reply of my RTI till date. I have got some calls from NPCC officials and asked me why did I need that information? Since I have not received any reply till date, plz tell me what should I do? should I wait ? Is the stipulated time frame for providing the reply over? please guide me Sir. Would be thankful if you mail me ur suggestion.

    • Hi Rituparno,
      As per section 6(2) of the RTI Act, the PIO is not supposed to ask the reason for seeking informtion. CPIO has done wrong by asking the reason through phone. To understand the time frame to receive reply under RTI, please refer RTI Reply Time.
      After reading the above, if you feel that PIO has exceeded the time to reply, you may prefer First Appeal before First Appellate Authority. To know the step by step procedure to file First Appeal, please refer How to file First Appeal online.

  • rk mishra

    Required knowledge how to take information of transaction id& Eprs id of a dish tv dealer through rti

    • Hi R K,
      If the dish TV is a public sector organization, then only you could use RTI to get information. Otherwise, you can directly ask them or file complaint before concerned officer.

  • KRISHNAN

    APPLICATION SENDING BY EMAIL

    ABOUT THE APPLICATION STATUS ASKS UNDER RTI ACT 2005

  • RAJ KUMAR SINGH

    I had submitted second appeal to State Information Commsission, Jharkhand alongwith all required documents as per para 8 of Right to Information Rules 2012 accompanied with my application as per appendix of para 8 of Right to Information Rules 2012. Now they have informed me that ‘parawise objection stating that which information were sought, which information have been provided and which infomration are still pending to be informed’ is not mentioned hence your application has not been accepted.

    Please advice me further course of action at the earliest please.

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