There are many questions related to
the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) that readers would
love answered. Here's an attempt at answering some frequently
asked questions on RTI.
How to get the text of the RTI Act?
The Web site persmin.nic.in provides a link
to RTI that leads to http://persmin.nic.in/RTI/WelcomeRTI.htm
where the legal texts can be found. There are further links
to frequently asked questions (FAQ) on RTI.
Where can one find the Public Information Authority (PIO)?
Each public authority must designate a PIO
at every administrative unit or office under it to provide
information to citizens under the RTI. The process of designating
such officers is on and, by October 12, 2005, a PIO must
be in place in almost all the offices of the public authorities.
It is possible that a designated PIO may not
have the information requested for readily available. In
that case, he may seek the assistance of any other officer
and inform the person requesting the information accordingly.
The RTI says that any officer, whose assistance
has been sought by the PIO for the proper discharge of his
or her duties, shall render all assistance and for the purpose
of contraventions of the provisions of this Act, such other
officer shall be treated as a PIO.
What information can a PIO refuse to give?
A PIO can refuse information on 11 subjects
that are listed in the RTI Act. These include Cabinet papers,
information received in confidence from foreign governments,
information prejudicial to security, strategic, scientific
or economic interests of the country, breach of privilege
of legislatures, etc.
The central intelligence agencies need not
give information, except on matters pertaining to allegations
of corruption or human rights violations.
Can a PIO provide only partial information?
A PIO may give only partial information if
he has enough grounds to determine that the information
not made available get covered under the exemptions.
The decision of a PIO not to give certain
information can always be challenged before the Information
How to find out which government authority handles a particular
Well, each public authority must publish details
such as the particulars of its organisation, functions and
duties, the powers and duties of its officers and employees,
the procedure followed in its decision-making process, including
channels of supervision and accountability, the norms set
by it for the discharge of its functions, the rules, regulations,
instructions, manuals and records used by its employees
for discharging its functions, a statement of the categories
of the documents held by it or under its control, etc.
How to ask for information and what does it cost?
Information must be sought in the prescribed
form along with a fee of Rs 10, plus nominal charges for
making copies of documents such as Rs 2 per page or Rs 50
per diskette or actual cost of samples, etc.
Will RTI work, when file notings are kept away from public
We have to wait and see. The law can give
rights and cast obligations on the public servants, but
it is up to the citizens to exercise the rights and for
public servants to co-operate.
Something in the RTI Act that can be of immediate
utility to citizens is access to manuals and records that
are used by public servants that throw light on the decision-making