If you are unsure of the process and think it is cumbersome, shed your inhibitions. Right to Information act (RTI) is very simple and very often may perhaps be the best remedy available.
The Right to Information Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India ”to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens.” The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the history of independent India, there have been many laws but none of them worked so why is RTI working? RTI is working because it enforces accountability. If a babu does not reply, he gets fined. Earlier, if I were to write such a letter back when there was no RTI seeking information on the air quality in Delhi, very often the letter would go unread or end up in the dustbin but with RTI, the information has to be provided within a period of 30 days. You could perhaps file an RTI seeking information on garbage disposal in your city, number of trees planted in an year, the level of pollutants in river water etc.
- You need not prescribe to any special format for writing an RTI. Simply draft it like a simple letter. Ask specific questions and don’t go beating about the bush else the reply will also not be satisfactory. Do not ask any questions that pertain to WHY? RTI is not meant for providing explanations and a court order has also clarified that there will be no answers to questions like WHY…
- Address it to the PIO. You can find the names of PIO’s on the respective departments websites. If sure unsure then send it to the HoD or whoever is in charge. Rest assured, it will be the person’s responsibility to ensure your letter reaches the correct person. An RTI query will never be rejected simply because it was not addressed to the correct PIO.
- Make sure the body you are asking information from is a government body. You can’t send RTI queries to a private individual.
- Once your letter is ready, make sure you have put your full name, address for correspondence, email id if any and contact phone number.
- There is absolutely no need to give any reason for asking a particular query. You can ask anything under the sun and the department has to reply. There are some reasonable exceptions of course.
- Pay the requisite fee by Indian Postal order. In some departments, you can even pay it in cash and submit the application by hand. If you are sending it by speed post, then attach the required Indian Postal Order. You can purchase it from a post office.
- If you wish to file an RTI online, you can do it at this website- http://www.rtination.com/. The cost is a bit on the higher side but it saves the hassle of purchasing postal orders and may be useful for people who are too busy and wish to file it from the convenience of their home or office.
A sample RTI application may be as under-
Subject: Kindly provide me with the following information requested under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
(Your question here)
Find the application fee for the request attached with this application (Indian Postal Order No. _________dated __________ is enclosed). If you feel that above requested information does not pertain to your department then please follow the provisions of Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, 2005.
Also as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 please provide the details (Name and Designation) of the first appellate authority with respect to your department with the reply to the above request, where I may if required file my first appeal.
I do hereby declare that I am a citizen of India. Kindly provide me with the information at the address/email id mentioned with the application. I request you to ensure that the information is provided before the expiry of the 30 day period after you have received the application.
Signature and Name along with full address for correspondence
Email if any-