How to use RTI Act effectively? : Must read before filing RTI Application

How to use RTI Act effectively?Submitting request for information RTI Act, 2005 appears to be very simple process. However, in many cases PIO rejects request for information for various reasons. To maximize your chance of getting information from PIO, you must understand how to use RTI Act effectively? In this article I have explained various points that we must remember while writing RTI Application.

How to use RTI Act effectively? : Point to remember

Right to Information provides right to only seek information, not to redress grievance. Many people think that through RTI they can redress their grievance directly. I have heard many people saying that “I will file RTI against this public authority”. RTI Application is filed before any public authority, not against any public authority. Thus, before filing RTI Application you should understand that you are going to seek information from public authority, not complain to public authority. Let me explain this with example.

Suppose, a traffic police officer has imposed penalty on you which you feel is not reasonable. Here, you can’t submit RTI Application asking to punish that officer. However, you can file RTI Application asking whether the amount of penalty imposed on you is reasonable as per the existing law. This example shows when should you file RTI Application. Now, let me explain various steps that you should follow to use RTI Act effectively.

How to use RTI Act effectively?: Steps to follow

Step – I: Confirm whether the information required by you is information or not under section 2(f) of the RTI Act.

Step – II: If you are convinced that the information required by you must be held by or can be accessed by the public authority, then check whether such information is exempted under section 8 or 9 of the RTI Act. If you are convinced that the information is available in record of public authority, and is not exempted under RTI Act, then you can ask such information under RTI Act.

Step – III: Clearly identify whether the information required by you belong to Central Public Authority or State Public Authority. There is a bit difference in procedure to file RTI Application before Central Public Authority and State Public Authority.

Step – IV: Check whether the public authority, which controls the information required by you, falls under the category of exempted organization defined under sub-section (1) and (4) of the section 24 of the RTI Act. If yes, then check whether the information required by you pertains to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations. If yes, then such information is not exempted under sub-section (1) and (4) of the section 24. However, in the case of information sought for in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission within forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request.

Step – V: If you are convinced by performing checks in Steps I-IV that information can be provided to you, then write your request for information. Refer RTI Application Forms to know how to write RTI Application.

Step – VI: Pay the prescribed fees through the defined means. You can check the amount of fees, and mode of payment at RTI Fees and Mode of Payment.

Step – VII: Submit your RTI Application along with fees to the Public Information Officer either personally or through Registered/Speed Post.

Step – VIII: Wait for information from the PIO for specified time. To know the time limit to get information, you may read time limit to get information.

Step – IX: If you didn’t receive information within specified time or received incorrect, incomplete or misleading information from the PIO, then submit First Appeal under Section 19(1) of the RTI Act. To know the time limit to submit First Appeal, you may read time to file First Appeal. I suggest you to contact PIO through Phone or E-mail, if available, before submitting First Appeal to confirm whether he/she is going to provide information or not.

Step – X: If you received the information from PIO with delay of around a week, but are satisfied with the information, then don’t submit Second Appeal/Complaint before Information Commission to penalize PIO. This will unnecessarily waste your time and money because information commissioners ignore such Appeals/Complaints.

These points explain how to use RTI Act effectively.

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