Thursday, December 25, 2008

Info about Right To Information - part 1

Couple of weeks back I attended one seminar on RTI. The seminar was organized by MCCIA on 11-Dec-2008. Mr. Nitin Sonawane and Maj Gen (reted) SCN Jatar were the speakers. It was quite informative. Here are the highlights of the seminar (mainly from the intro given by Mr. Nitin Sonawane).

RTI was introduced in Sweden in 17th century, 200 yrs back. In India, Tamilnadu was the first state to implement it (state level act) in 1997. In Maharashtra it was implemented in 2002 and central government implemented it in 2005.

The Rights that we get under RTI are:
1. View (almost) any document.
2. Get it photo copied.
3. Get it authorized.
4. Get samples of the material used in any activities like construction, food supply etc.
5. Get copy of electronic data on CD, floppy. (some states allow DVD as well.) [Bihar allows to provide information on phone. PIO provides the information on phone. Voice recording of the call is done and appropriate charges are added to your telephone bill.]

Official secrets act (1923) is overruled by RTI act (2005), with some exceptions.

If information is related to some ones life / death it must be provided within 48 hrs.

Except J&K rest of the states are covered by RTI Act 2005.

You can get information related to any of the public authorities, such as:
1. Loksabha, Rajyasabha or any organization created by them
2. Vidhan parishad, Vidhan sabha or any organization created by them
3. any organization that is substantially funded by government
4. Co-operative sector

1. security of nation
2. information prohibited by law / legal decisions
3. patented / copy right protected info
(but you can ask for information related to corruption or human rights etc. Such info is sent after getting due permission from concerned authority.)

Information can be anything like records, memos, papers, logbooks etc

As per the section 3 of the act, no officer can ask you, why you need this information.

In general the steps are:
1. you make an application for information.
2. if you don't get satisfactory reply within 30 (depends on situation) days, you can make 1st appeal within 60 days since you made the application for information.
3. if you don't get reply from the concerned officer within 30/45 days then you can make the 2nd appeal at higher authority.

There are some charges for providing the information, around 10 Rs. but if the applicant is below poverty line, s/he need not pay anything.

If proper information is not provided in time, it should be provided free of cost and the officer has to pay 250 Rs / day for the delayed days or 25000 Rs max.

The question should be phrased properly. Instead of asking "why did you do this?" you should ask "Based on which rule you did this?".

RTI can not stop corruption, but expose it.

Officer is custodian of information of government, s/he can not hold back the information.

Part 2 : Some more info, not about RTI


  1. Hi Vivek,

    do you know ppl who have managed ot get information on time through the RTI? I have been trying to follow up for 2 things
    a) my PF transfer and
    b) MY IT refund like mad
    but not sure if RTI is just another "scam" - pls share your thoughts on this

  2. Hi Trauma Queen,

    I don't know anyone personally who has managed to get info using RTI. But I've read few news about people utilizing it to get info (personal or public - like unearthing frauds and corruption), so I believe its not a "scam" :) ...

    After all its a law / act, just like any other law. It depends on you how you take its advantage.

    I'm not an expert in this field. I've just attended one seminar that gave me the general idea about RTI. So I can't guide you how to get the info in your specific cases. But I'm sure you should be able to use RTI for this.

    I don't know where are you from, but if you are from Pune, Mumbai you can get the required help from "Public Concern for Governance Trust". I've mentioned their contact details in the comments section of my other post "RTI - part 2" ( Hope that helps.