What is RTI
The Right to Information Act, 2007 is an act passed by Parliament of India under which an Indian citizen can request a public authority for information. This act applies to all States and Union territories, except for Jammu and Kashmir. For Jammu and Kashmir there is a separate act called Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information act, 2009.
RTI can be an invaluable tool in fight against corruption. Using RTI one can seek for the response for negligence, late response, blocked work, unresolved complaints, unnecessary expenditure, and other grievances from the public authorities. The response for the RTI can be used to hold government and government official accountable for their actions.
As per Chapter I, Preliminary section of RTI act 2005, an Indian citizen can request for the following from an public authority:
Inspection of governmental records and documents
Inspection of governmental work
Certified copies of governmental documents and materials
Information in form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes, or any other electronic mode where such information is stored in electronic device
Public Information officers (PIOs) are designated to receive RTI request.If the correct department for filing a RTI is not known then the RTI can be filed to the designated Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs). More information about the process of filing a RTI can be found in Section "File RTI" of this website.
Once an RTI is filed, the concerned department or officer needs to respond back within 30 days. If the response is not received or the response is not satisfactory, then an appeal may be made. If the response received after first appeal is not satisfactory as well, then second appeal can be made. More information about the RTI process can be found in Section "RTI Process" of this website.
However, some documents and information cannot be obtained under RTI act. Chapter II, Right to information and obligations of public authorities, Point 8 mentions the following information is exempted from disclosure under this act:
information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence;
information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure
of such information;
information received in confidence from foreign Government;
information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:
Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over:
Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;
information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information:
Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
The official web-site of RTI is http://www.rti.gov.in/ from where rules specific to states can be obtained.