If your Right To Information (RTI) application has ever been rejected, chances are that you did not follow the basic RTI rules when filing the application. Without acquainting yourself with the basic RTI rules, it would be a difficult task to correctly file an RTI. The RTI rules clearly defined what to do and what not to do in the process of filing your RTI application.
If you wish to know the basic rules guiding the operation of the Right to Information Act, then this article is for you.
The RTI Act came into being after sustained efforts to combat corruption. It was passed by the Indian Parliament on the 15th of June 2005 with a view to promoting transparency in the day-to-day running of government activities. The implementation of the law started on the 12th of October 2005. The RTI Act is one of the most powerful legislation in the country.
Before now, the financial transactions of government agencies were shrouded in secrecy. This gave room for monumental corruption by those at the helm of affairs. But since the introduction of the RTI Act, a lot of Indians have leveraged the Act to seek information on how different government agencies expend resources on developmental projects. Any agency that refuses to oblige such information within 30 days will be sanctioned by a fine.
Without further ado, let’s now take you through the basic rules guiding the operation of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
BASIC RIGHT TO INFORMATION (RTI) RULES-
The basic RTI rules are those rules you need to be aware of before filing your RTI application. You need to pay attention to these rules so that your application can be accepted and processed at a one-time application.
RULE 1: ELIGIBILITY WHEN FILING AN RTI
Most people do not know that filing an RTI has eligibility criteria. For your RTI application to be accepted and processed, the applicant must be an Indian citizen. What this implies is that if you are not an Indian citizen residing in the country, you do not have the right to file an RTI. If you attempt doing that, your application will be rejected straight-off.
RULE 2: ORGANIZATIONS WHICH YOU CAN FILE AN RTI AGAINST
The RTI Act, 2005 clearly mentioned that RTI applicants can seek information from all public institutions funded by the government, whether Central or State government. What this means is that all eligible applicant can file an RTI against any government-owned agency.
RULE 3: EXEMPTED GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS UNDER THE RTI ACT
The RTI Act, 2005, specifically Section 24(1) clearly specifies the government agencies that are exempted from the Act. These institutions or bodies are those under the Intelligence or security agencies like BSF, CISF, RAW, CRPF, National Security Guard, and Intelligence Bureau, among others.
Furthermore, there are some instances which the RTI Act cannot hold. The instances are:
- When an applicant is seeking information that could affect sovereignty, national security, scientific and economic interests.
- When a law Court has refused the release of such information
- When the information relates to intellectual property, trade secrets or information which may harm a third party’s competitive position.
- When the information relates to a fiduciary relationship
- Foreign governments information
- When the information would jeopardize the safety of an individual
- When the information could compromise investigative process
- When the Information relates to cabinet papers
- When an applicant seeks the personal information of an individual without any public interest.
RULE 4: ALWAYS ROUTE YOUR RTI APPLICATION TO THE CORRECT GOVERNMENT AGENCY
This rule is very important in view of the fact that so many applicants make the mistake of filing a random RTI application. Random applications are usually rejected. Therefore, you must identify the particular agency you wish to obtain information from before you begin the application process. If you have two government agencies in mind you wish to obtain information from, it is totally your prerogative to decide which agency has the information you are seeking.
If you feel the process is confusing, you can hire the services of a professional lawyer. An experienced lawyer will put you through the entire process.
RULE 5: ATTACH THE APPLICATION FEE
Attaching the application fee to your RTI application whether you are applying online or offline is one quick way for your application to be accepted. Please note that the application fee is INR. 10 and payable to the Accountant of the concerned government agency you are seeking information. If you request the concerned agency to supply you with any document, then you need to pay a Token of INR. 2 per requested documents.
Those living below the poverty line are not required to pay this fee. However, they must attach a certificate to show that they truly live below the poverty line. Failure to attach the living below the poverty line certificate will result in an outright rejection of the application
Furthermore, If you are submitting your application online, the payment should be made using credit or debit card and internet banking.
In addition, be aware that each state of the federation has a different rate for the RTI application. Usually, the fee range from INR 8 to INR 10. Also, the mode of payment varies from one state to the other.
RULE 6: EXPECTED TIME TO GET RESPONSE AFTER FILING AN RTI APPLICATION
The Right To Information Act, 2015 clearly mentioned that an applicant should expect a response from the concerned government agency within 30 days from the date of application. However, if the information you are seeking has to do with the liberty or the life of a person, then the expected time to get a response is 48 hours. Once this time limit exceeds without getting the required information, an applicant has the right to appeal.
RULE 7: WHY YOUR APPLICATION MAY GET REJECTED
Like we earlier asserted, your RTI application may get rejected if your application is incomplete. It may be incomplete content or details, improper application fee payment or addressing the application to a wrong government agency. Your application may also be rejected if you apply to any of the exempted security or security agencies.
All Indians regardless of race, religion, caste, gender have a right to demand information from the government using the RTI Act, 2005. In doing this, an RTI applicant needs to adhere to the above rules so that his/her application will not be rejected. Also, when drafting your application, ensure to provide valid contact details so that the concerned government agency will use the details to send the requested information.