Hailed as a legislation that has the power to transform the way the government functions, the RTI Act is a symbol of hope for a more transparent and more accountable government. The Act can place the power of knowledge in the hands of citizens if it is utilised in a proper way. From what it really means, to how you can file an RTI application – here is everything you need to know:
What is the RTI Act?
The Right to Information Act (RTI), 2015 is an Act of the Parliament of India “to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens.” Simply put, it allows citizens of the country to request information from any public authority about its work, actions, etc.
Why is RTI important?
The Right to Information Act is considered to be one of the strongest pieces of legislation at the disposal of the common man. It gives citizens the power to question public authorities and their activities, thereby not only promoting transparency, but demanding accountability as well. The Act is considered a landmark legislation in the fight against corruption.
Who all are covered under the Act?
In the spirit of promoting transparency and accountability within the government, the RTI Act covers various departments. While almost all the departments and bodies controlled or funded by the Central Government (even at the state level) are covered under the Act, departments funded by the State Governments are accessible only in those States which have State RTIs.
Departments dealing with defence and national security, however, do not fall under the purview of RTI. This includes bodies like National Security Guard, the Intelligence Bureau, and Border Security Force, etc. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is also exempt from the RTI Act.
Where do I file an RTI application?
An RTI application can be filed in one of three ways:
1. Online: Visit rtionline.gov.in and login to file an RTI.
2. Via post: send your application to the concerned department via speed post or registered post.
3. In person: Visit the Public Information Officer of the concerned department and he/she will guide you further.
For instance, if you reside in Bengaluru and have queries about the water supply in your area, you can approach the municipal body in charge of supplying water to your area (in this case, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board), either at their office or through their website.
How do I file an RTI application?
The procedure to file for an RTI is fairly simple.
1. Determine which department your query concerns and who is the Public Information Officer there.
2. Write a simple, to-the-point application form detailing your questions clearly.
3. Pay the fee of Rs. 10. The payment can be made via Demand Draft or Indian Postal Order or can even be submitted to the treasury. Proof of payment (such as challans and receipts) must be enclosed with the application. Online options for the payment are also available here.
4. Submit the application either via post, online or in person.
When can I expect a response to my RTI request?
By law, RTIs must be replied to within 30 days. In fact, in life and death cases, RTIs must be responded to within 48 hours.
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