The I LEAD INDIA RTI Day (Right To Information) is an initiative by Times of India in participation with The National Campaign For People’s Right To Information where citizens are encouraged to file an RTI on October 25. There are several issues of national interest that affect the citizens of India and as a tax payer, it is your inherent right to know what the authorities are doing with your money. Every year, during monsoon, citizens face a hard time with snags such as water logging and pot holes which leads to accidents and deaths. The common people are promised that funds are allocated to bring an end to water logging problems but roads are mostly not covered. It is your right to know what is being done with your hard-earned money and ensure that funds are not siphoned off. Also, citizens have a right to know why they face hassles during heavy rains. This is one, among several issues such as noise pollution, crime against citizens, women and children as well as the Nirbhaya fund that has been set up by the government to help rape victims. The idea is to pitch for proper information to citizens since authorities are reluctant to disclose information in India where the RTI Act is a reality.
The RTI Act which is considered to be path-breaking was implemented by the Indian parliament on October 12, 2005 and the law has the merit of empowering the common man to get clarity on decisions and actions of the government, at all levels, across government departments at the panchayat, municipal, state and even central level. However, several citizens are kept in the dark in what is called their fundamental right to know and there is a lack of widespread awareness on the dissemination of proper information.
Therefore, I Lead India Right To Information Day initiative seeks to inspire citizens to overcome their apathy, educate them about RTI as a powerful tool of citizen empowerment and help create an understanding of the manner in which RTI can be leveraged to bring greater transparency in the manner in which we are governed. The initiative, therefore, seek to encourage citizens to file the RTI Act on October 25 so that the common man is empowered and many hope that it will be a historic day where citizens will be aware of the nitty-gritty of the Right To Information Act.
How To File an RTI?
Filing a RTI application is a 3 step process-
STEP 1: Write an application specifying the particulars of the information that you seek
- The application may be typed or neatly hand-written in English, Hindi or the official language of the area in which application is being made. If an applicant has difficulty in writing the application, he can request the Public Information Officer/Assistant Public Information Officer who is duty bound to put the request in writing.
- Even though some Public Authorities have devised their own application format, there is no legal compulsion for a format and applications cannot be rejected on the ground that they were not in the prescribed format
- An applicant is not obliged to submit the reasons for seeking information. However, it is suggested that in certain cases, the applicant should explain the reasons for seeking information to strengthen his case. For example:
- The public interest involved in seeking information which is otherwise exempted under the RTI Act.
- If the ‘life or liberty’ provision under section 7(1) is invoked, the reasons how the life or liberty of a person is at risk
- The choice of words in drafting an application is very important. Wrongly worded applications may lead to delay or denial of information. Few suggestions for drafting an effective RTI application are-
- Avoid using technical terms/jargons and keep the language simple and easy
- Queries must be specific and to the point leaving no room for ambiguity. Some PIOs may use it as an excuse to avoid giving specific information.
- The application should be legible (either typed or neatly handwritten) and not too long
- No additions can be made at a later stage. So all the information required should be sought at the time of making the initial application
- The number of questions should be limited.
- Unsubstantiated allegations or use of abusive language should not form a part of the application
STEP 2: Make the payment for the application fee and submit evidence of payment, at the time of application submission
STEP 3: Send the application to the concerned Public Information Officer/Assistant Public Information Officer
DECODING OF RTI
Oct 15, 2005: The Right to Information Act, 2005 empowers all Indian citizens to seek information from public authorities. These include central, state and local governments, Parliament and state legislatures, judiciary, police, security forces and all bodies substantially financed by the government
Shouldn’t exceed 500 words, excluding annexures and addresses. Word limit varies across states
It can be handwritten or typed in English, Hindi or the official language of your area
Information you can seek
Records, documents, memos, mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, images or any other computergenerated material, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models or electronic data
Rs 10 for application, via postal order, demand draft or cheque in favour of the accounts officer of the department concerned and payable where it is located. A further fee may be charged later as cost of information sought
How to send the application
Send by post, email or deliver by hand, but not by courier. Apply online at http:// rtionline.gov.in/ to get information from central ministries/departments
You should get a reply within 30 days; 48 hours where life or liberty is involved; 35 days where request is sent to Asst. PIO; 40 days where third party is involved and 45 days for human rights abuse details from listed intelligence agencies
ISSUES RTI IS USED FOR:
1. Developmental issues pertaining to the immediate neighbourhood: These could include issues such as broken roads near one’s residential area, erratic water/power supply, lack of public transport facilities in a certain colony etc.
2. Personal issues, specifically pertaining to government documents: These encompass matters such as delay in passport application being processed, pension not being given etc.
3. Using RTI to bring about systemic change: Transparency in functioning of public toilets in your city, Utilization of MP, MLA and Councillor funds, Overcrowding of jails, Destruction of green cover in a suburb, Absence of public transport facilities in a town and much more.