In order to help citizens secure access to information under the control of public authorities and to promote transparency and accountability in the working of all public authorities, the Right to Information Act, of 2005 was introduced.
According to this Act, any person who desires to obtain any information can request it in writing or online, by paying the requisite fee. If your matter relates to the departments which are related to the Centre, then the RTI must be filed with the central government through the RTI online portal.
The RTI Portal is exclusively meant for Public Authorities under Central Govt. only. There are certain matters which are state-oriented such as the construction of a road, problems with irrigation, or street light issues. In such a case, an RTI application will be filed with the state authorities. On receiving a request for information under the RTI Act, a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer must provide the information requested or reject the request under any of the reasons specified in the RTI Act.
In this article, we discuss the online process for requesting information under RTI.
Step 1- Visit the official RTI portal https://rtionline.gov.in
Step 2- For submitting an RTI application click on the “Submit Request'' option.
Step 3- Upon clicking, a 'Guidelines for use of RTI ONLINE PORTAL' screen will be displayed. This screen contains various guidelines for using the RTI online portal. Click on the checkbox and then click on the submit.
Step 4- An RTI Request Form will be displayed on the screen. Select the Ministry/Department for which the applicant wants to file an RTI from the dropdown list.
Step 5- Fill in the form. Some fields are mandatory while some are optional which you can leave. The applicant will receive SMS alerts in case he/she provides a mobile number.
Step 6- If a citizen belongs to the BPL category, he has to select the option 'Yes' in the 'Is the applicant below the poverty line?' field and has to upload a BPL card certificate in the supporting document field. If a citizen belongs to the Non-BPL category, he has to select the option 'No' in the 'Is the applicant below the poverty line?' field.
Step 7- On submission of the application, a unique registration number would be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any references in the future.
Step 8- After filling out the first page of the RTI request form, a non-BPL applicant has to click on the "Make Payment" button for payment of the prescribed RTI fee. The applicant can pay the prescribed RTI fee through the following modes:
(i) Internet banking through the SBI payment gateway and its associated banks.
(ii) Using ATM-cum-Debit card of State Bank of India.
(iii) Credit/Debit card of Master/Visa.
It may be noted that no RTI fee is required to be paid by a citizen who is below the poverty line, as per RTI Rules, 2012. However, the BPL applicant must attach a copy of the certificate issued by the appropriate government in this regard, along with the application, whereas non-BPL category citizens have to make a payment of Rs 10 as prescribed in the RTI Rules, 2012.
Step 9- Status/Reply of the RTI Application or First appeal filed online can be viewed by the applicant by clicking on "View Status".
As per the law, the RTI information should be provided in 30 days. However, sometimes government records are misplaced or missing or the agency you've written to needs to coordinate with another department to provide you with the information you want. In any of such situations in which the information may take more than 30 days to arrive, the PIO concerned has to send you a written intimation about the possible delay and the reason. If he/she fails to do so and you don't receive the info within 30 days, a penalty can be levied on the PIO if the matter is taken up with the appellate authorities.
Almost all government agencies, whether they are under a state government or the Centre, come under the purview of the RTI Act. The list is quite an exhaustive one which includes Municipal Corporations, PSUs (Public Sector Units), Government departments, Ministries at the State as well as Central level, Judiciary, Government owned Companies, Government Universities, Government Schools, Works Departments, Road Authorities, Provident Fund department, etc.
Not only governments and their departments, but also smaller units such as your city corporation or gram panchayat fall under the ambit of RTI. Be it the police, passport office, your electricity/water supply company, or even the IRCTC, all are required to furnish RTI information.
Some odd entities are exempted from RTI which are related to the country's defense and intelligence, such as RAW, BSF, CRPF, CISF, Intelligence Bureau, National Security Guard, etc. Further, there are some specific instances whereby RTI information cannot be furnished. These instances relate to matters which:
→ Would affect national security, sovereignty, strategic, economic, and/or scientific interest
→ Have been disallowed by the court to be released
→ Relates to trade secrets or intellectual property, information that might affect/harm the competitive position of a third party
→ Relates to information under fiduciary relationship
→ Relates to foreign government information
→ Would affect the life/physical safety of any person
→ Would affect the process of an investigation
→ Relates to cabinet papers
→ Relates to personal information without any public interest
It is to be noted that RTI law says that any information which cannot be denied to a Member of Parliament or state legislature cannot be denied to any citizen.
By enacting the revolutionary Right to Information Act, India has moved way forward to the beginning of an era where there will be greater transparency and to a system where the citizen will be empowered and the true center of power. It makes the Government Offices reply to your questions.
The main objective of the RTI act is to maintain transparency in all the public offices across India, Greater Accountability, better Government-public relations Reduction in Corruption, etc. RTI is currently a strong tool to uphold the spirit of democracy. The need of the hour is that the RTI Act should be implemented to ensure that the objects of the RTI Act are fulfilled.