In any legal system, Appeal procedure is recognized as very important tool in the hand of aggrieved applicant. Same has been recognized and incorporated under section 19 of the RTI Act. Section 19 of the RTI Act provides two types of appeal procedure. Section 19(1) and section 19(2) provide for First Appeal against the order of the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, (hereinafter referred as PIO). Section 19(3) of the RTI Act provides for the Second Appeal before Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, against the decision of First Appellate Authority on First Appeal under section 19(1) or 19(2). In this article, I will explain First Appeal under RTI: How to File First Appeal under RTI Act?
Who can file First Appeal under RTI?
Both section 19(1) and section 19(2) of the RTI Act provide for the First Appeal against the order of the PIO. One provides right of appeal to the Applicant, while other to the Third Party (section 2(n) defines “third party” as ‘a person other than the citizen making a request for information and includes a public authority’).
First Appeal by the Applicant (citizen who filed RTI Application): Any person, who does not receive decision of PIO within the time limit specified under section 7(1) or section 7(3)(a) of the RTI Act, or is aggrieved at the decision of the PIO can submit First Appeal under section 19(1) of the RTI Act.
First Appeal by Third Party: A third party, under section 11, against whose wish PIO made decision to disclose information pertaining to third party and considered confidential by the third party, to the applicant, can submit First Appeal under section 19(2) of the RTI Act.
When to file First Appeal under RTI: (Time limits to file First Appeal)
Under Section 19(1) of the RTI Act, 2005, a citizen who either has not received reply from PIO within time period specified under section 7(1) of the RTI Act, explained above, or is aggrieved at the reply of PIO may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the PIO in each public authority.
To understand time timits to submit First Appeal under section 19(1) or 19(2), you may visit Time limits for filing First Appeal.
By now, you understood what is First Appeal under RTI. Now, let me explain how to file First Appeal under RTI Act, 2005.
How to File First Appeal under RTI Act:
Citizen can submit First Appeal Online as well as Offline. But, facility to file First Appeal is very limited: You can submit First Appeal online only when you filed your RTI Application online. You can’t submit First Appeal online against those RTI Applications that you filed Offline or in case you filed your RTI Application online but your application was physically forwarded to the other Public Authority under section 6(3) of the RTI Act.
To know step by step procedure to submit First Appeal Online, you may visit How to File First Appeal Online (coming soon). To know how to file First Appeal offline, follow the procedure explained below.
First Appeal under RTI: How to File First Appeal under RTI Act offline?
Step-I: Find details of First Appellate Authority:
As per section 7(8) as well as various decisions of Information Commission, PIO must provide the details of First Appellate Authority in every reply to the RTI Application. Thus, if you have received Reply from PIO, then take the details of First Appellate Authority from RTI Reply. But, in case PIO didn’t provide the details of First Appellate Authority in the reply, or PIO didn’t reply within the specified time limit, you can get the details of First Appellate Authority in following ways:
i) Get the details of First Appellate Authority from the Website of the Public Authority.
ii) Ask the details of First Appellate Authority from office of the PIO through phone call or e-mail.
iii) If office of the PIO is near to your house, you can visit there to get details of First Appellate Authority.
iv) As per section 5(2), Public Authority shall appoint Central Assistant Public Information Officer(CAPIO) or a State Assistant Public Information Officer(SAPIO), as the case may be, at each sub-divisional level or other sub-district level, to receive the applications for information or appeals under this Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be.
Accordingly, if you don’t get the details of First Appellate Authority, you can submit your First Appeal before CAPIO or SAPIO, as the case may be, who shall forward your First Appeal to the First Appellate Authority forthwith.
v) You can send First Appeal to the office of PIO by addressing First Appeal as “The First Appellate Authority under RTI Act, 2005″. PIO shall forward you First Appeal to the First Appellate Authority.
Step-2: Check the Appeal Procedures of respective Public Authority (Central or State):
There is no uniform or common Appeal Procedures, that contain Fees detail and Format for filing Appeal, among all Central Public Authorities and State Public Authorities. For example, there is no fee and specific format for filing First Appeal before Central Public Authorities. However, few States’ Appeal Procedures prescribe Fee and Format for filing First Appeals. Thus, before you draft First Appeal before State Public Authorities, go through Appeal Procedures of respective State for First Appeal Fee, and Format of Appeal (if any).
Step-3: Write First Appeal:
Draft your First Appeal. You may get Sample First Appeal at First Appeal Format. You may include following details in your First Appeal:
First Appeal before First Appellate Authority
(Under section 19(1)/ 19(2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005)
…………………………………….. (Name and/or Address of First Appellate Authority)
1) Background/Brief facts leading to First Appeal:
i) Date of RTI Application (Copy of Application Attached as Annexure - A):
ii) Registration Number of RTI Application, if available with Applicant:
iii) Date of Reply received from PIO (Copy of Reply Attached as Annexure - B): (If Reply not received, just mention “Reply Not Received”)
iv) Particulars of PIO to whom RTI Application was submitted:
……………………………………….. (Name & Address of PIO)
v) Brief facts leading to appeal: Deemed Refusal (Reply Not Received from PIO within specified time)/ Aggrieved at the Reply of PIO
2) Reasons for Appeal being filed after prescribed period of 30 days from date of receipt of reply of the above PIO (if applicable):
If you are submitting First Appeal after expiry of the time limits for filing First Appeal specified under section 19(1), then you should mention compelling reason for First Appellate Authority to accept your appeal. Because, after expiry of time limit, First Appellate Authority is not bound to accept your appeal.
3) Grounds for Appeal:
Under this section, you should write reasons indicating how and why PIO has erred in making decision on your RTI Application. To support your assertion, you can quote relevant provisions of RTI Act or any relevant Orders of Hon'ble CIC or SIC or High Courts or Supreme Court. You should write each points as separate ground.
4) Prayers or Relief sought:
Under this section, Appellant must clearly indicate the decision required to be given by First Appellate Authority. Because it is well settled principle of law that Applicant or Appellant should be provided only what he has asked. Thus, if you will not mention clearly whatever you want, First Appellate Authority may not provide you. Some of the prayers that you may include is as follows:
- If you are filing Appeal after expiry of the specified time limit to file appeal, then pray to condone the delay in filing appeal;
- direct the PIO to provide certified copies of complete and correct information within 10 days from the date of decision of the First Appellate Authority on appeal;
- direct the PIO to supply information free of cost, since PIO failed to supply information within specified time limit under section 7(1) of the RTI Act;
- record and supply reasons for upholding the decision of PIO and rejecting the prayers of the appellant etc.
5) Personal Hearing:
In this section, you should write your preference for attending Personal Hearing during disposal of appeal by first appellate authority. First Appellate Authority is bound to grant personal hearing to Appellant in compliance of principles of natural justice. But, Appellant is not bound to attend personal hearing. Appellant may authorize any other person to attend hearing on his behalf. Attending personal hearing is always beneficial to the appellant, because appellant gets opportunity to present his case and maximize chances of getting decision of First Appellate Authority in his favor.
Under this section you may quote the decision of Hon'ble Central Information Commission with regard to providing opportunity of hearing to appellant:
In the matter of Mr. R. K. Jain vs. Department of Legal Affairs, Government of India registered under File No.CIC/SA/A/2014/000254, Hon’ble Central Information Commission has made following observations: “14. The Commission observes: Passing orders in first appeal without hearing or sending hearing notice is illegal and will render the order invalid. The Commission sets aside the order of First Appellate Authority for violating RTI Act and breach of natural justice by denying the appellant a chance of presenting his case and by raising entirely a new defence which was never claimed. Commission finds it deserves action though the concerned officer retired from service and recommends Public Authority to initiate disciplinary action against the concerned FAO for acting totallyagainst the RTI Act in this case.”
6) Particulars of the Appellant:
(Signature of Applicant)
Name : ..........................................,
Contact No.: .................................,
NOTE: If you submit more than one First Appeal before same Appellate Authority on same day, then in order to distinguish response of First Appellate Authority on each of them please ensure to put different date on each of First Appeals.
Step-IV: Enclose self attested copies of following documents along with First Appeal:
- Copy of RTI Application
- Copy of Reply from PIO (if received)
- Copy of proof of filing RTI Application (Online tracking of delivery status of RTI Application to PIO/ Acknowledgement from PIO) (If PIO didn't reply)
- Any other documents supporting your grounds and pleading in appeal
Step-V: Submit your First Appeal along with attachments to the First Appellate Authority either personally (if office of the Appellate Authority is near to your location) or by Registered Post with Acknowledgement Due/ Speed Post. Never submit First Appeal through private courier services.
NOTE: Before submitting First Appeal, take copy of First Appeal along with all attachment for reference.
i) If you submit First Appeal by hand, never forget to take acknowledgement from Appellate Authority because you need proof for submission.
ii) If you submit First Appeal through Post Office, then do following:
a) Keep postal receipt that you receive from post office after dispatching First Appeal.
b) Online track delivery status of Registered Post/ Speed Post after one week of dispatch at following link:
iii) Take Screenshot/Print Out of the delivery status, if it has been delivered, as a proof of on what date Appellate Authority received your First Appeal.
Step-VI: Wait for Reply/decision from the Appellate Authority. To know the time limits within which First Appellate Authority shall give her decision, visit Time Limit for disposal of First Appeal.
The above step by step procedure clearly provides how to file First Appeal under RTI Act offline. If you have any doubt on how to file First Appeal under RTI Act offline, you may ask through comment box.
What to do if you did not receive reply from the Appellate Authority within specified time, or you received reply from Appellate Authority but are not satisfied with the reply?
Submit Second Appeal under section 19(3) and/or Complaint under section 18 before Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, within specified time limits.
To know the step by step procedure to submit Second Appeal under Section 19(3) click link below How to submit Second Appeal under section 19(3) of the RTI Act.
To know the step by step procedure to submit Complaint under Section 18, you may visit How to submit Complaint under section 18 of the RTI Act.