Section 18 Complaint
If the applicant is unsatisfied with the RTI response, first appeal response, or with PIOs/APIOs, then he/she can file a complaint with the Information commission.
This appeal can be made even after getting the initial response for the RTI.
As per the section 18 of RTI act, the complaint can be made by a person:
(a) who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified in sub- section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be;
who has been refused access to any information requested under this Act;
(c) who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limit specified under this Act;
(d) who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable;
(e) who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act; and
in respect of any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under this Act.
When to make Section 18 complaint
The section 18 complaint can be made either after getting the response for RTI or after getting the response for the first appeal. However, it is advisable to file the complaint after the first appeal (if possible) as it could make the case stronger. Though the complaint cannot be rejected on the grounds that the first appeal has not been made.
Also, there is no time limit within which the complaint needs to be made. The section 18 complaint can be made anytime after receiving the RTI response, or first appeal response.
Where to make Section 18 complaint
Section 18 complaint needs to me made with the Information commission. For state government departments State Information Commission (SIC) needs to be approached and for central government departments Central Information commission (CIC) needs to be approached.
The official web-site for central information commission is : www.cic.gov.in. The CIC website mentions that there is no form for submitting the complaint. However, it is advisable to attach al the relevant documents with the complaint if possible.
Web site for the State Information commissions can be found from the following link.
What does Section 18 complaint do
If the Information commissioner feels that the complaint is justified then he can initiate an enquiry for the officer against whom the complaint is made.
As specified in the section 18(3) of the act:
(3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely:—
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things;
(b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavit;
(d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office;
(e) issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents;
(f) and any other matter which may be prescribed.
The enquiry can lead to penalizing of the offending officer as per the Section 20 of RTI act.
20. (1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees