The Right To Information Act came into being, i.e. was passed by the Parliament of India, in the year 2005. It gives citizens the right to seek information that they might desire from any public office in the interests of transparency and democratic governance.
Why the RTI act?
India is a vast country with many government organisations and institutions, The act was introduced as a result of various people’s struggles to demand information on policies, goods, services, appointments, disbursal of funds and procedures so as to develop transparency between the government and the common person, to give us access to government records and official information relating to public funds, goods, services, appointments and procedures.
From whom can we obtain such information?
In simple terms, any organisation/department/ institution which is run/ managed/ funded by any of state or central government is liable/ responsible to the RTIs filed seeking information from them.
Simply said, any organisation which is not private or barred under the act ( eg. which is governed by the Official Secrets Act or information which can't be made public in the interest of public order and safety of the country)
What exactly is the RTI application?
An application made under the Right to Information Act is simply an application or a letter written to the concerned officer to provide us with answers to our questions.
Now those questions can be about anything ranging from: the documents you wanted to obtain for a long time, answer sheets, the status of an application made to any Department, the progress report of any government project or procedure of any government task.
This application need not be technical or loaded with official language. One can simply send it in a letter format with simple questions and details of the information required.
How to send your RTI Application/letter/ query?
Under the RTI Act, an officer has been appointed for each department, known as the Public Information Officer, at different levels, to obtain and provide the information to the general public. When we send an RTI application, we address it to the concerned Public Information Officer, not by name but by designation. One need not search for the person; it is automatically addressed to and received by the concerned PIO.
It is sent along with a postal stamp of RS. 10 obtained from any post office. When it comes to the charges and the fess, the PIO then reverts and asks the person to submit the amount, which is nothing but the cost of the photocopy or stationary required to send the sought information to the applicant himself. Further, there have been cases wherein an attempt to not provide the information, PIOs have asked for huge sums of money, while recent judicial cases (Cite the cases) have made clear that the cost of RTI reply can’t be more than Rs. 50.
What happens to the RTI application after I have sent it?
On receipt, even if not addressed to the right person, the concerned department is supposed to send it to the right person (the concerned PIO) and on such receipt, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has to, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within 30 thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons , clearly specified in the act or any other, as the case may be. Hence, one is supposed to receive the required information within 30 days, or automatically the query is transferred to the higher authorities, where it never takes too long to get addressed and answered.