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RTI Act a boon for the curious

Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 03:06 PM
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US for the first time, what was the burden on the national exchequer? What was the additional expenditure incurred when the Prime Minister suddenly decided to land in Pakistan for talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif? What were the security arrangements made for the recent Republic Day? For any such questions, you could invoke the Right to Information Act.

You could also use the RTI Act to know the rights of bus users in th city or what compensation a rail passenger is entitled to in case there is a delay in the train journey. Such matters could also be dealt with under the RTI Act.

Unless you ask for info, you would never be given. So ask for it under the RTI. The law was enforced in 2005 under the RTI, replacing the Freedom of Information Act of 2002. Not only the government but also 95% of the autonomous bodies and NGOs deriving funds from the gvoernment also come within the purview of the RTI Act.

One could ask for any detail in any form under the Act. Sections 8 & 9 however specify what could not be demanded under the Act. In case of charges of corruption, human rights violations and so on, if you want further information, you will have to submit the information you already have.

Under the Act, one can get information from the designated officials concerned. However, one could be denied information if the information so provided might lead to the misuse of resources. In case, there is a danger of safety of records, information could be denied. Anything that might compromise nation's security also could be denied under the RTI. The denial extends to information relating to relations with countries in the neighbourhood.

The RTI is the right of the citizen but not corporates or associations or companies.

Under the RTI, every organisation will have to appoint a PIO (Public Information Officer). For instance, the tahsildar in the Revenue Department in Andhra pradesh could be the PIO. In Telangana, the sub-tahsildars have been designated as PIOs. In the government departments, a PIO is appointed in each of them.

The PIOs can be the secretary in a panchayat, the Extension Officer in an EMDO's office, SI in a police station, the doctor in the Primary Health Centre, leading fireman in the Fire Brigade, Education Officer in the case of the Education Department, the DE in case of the Electricity Department, Assistant director in the Agriculture Department, in the Superintendent of Police office the Additional Police Superintendent and so on.

If you want to know some information from a particular department, you could go to the department concerned and ask for the PIO there.

Also for a particular department, there will be a designated Central Public Information Officer. The applicants must address the Central Officer for any information sought. The application can be in English, Hindi or the regional langugage. There is no format for the application. You may ask for the info on a plain paper.

Any application under the RTI will have to be given an acknowledegement. It will have to be accompanied by a postal order for Rs 10. Plus one will have to bear the expenditure involved in getting the information for you. For every page of A4 or A3 size, one will have to pay Rs 2 each.

If you want the information in a floppy, you will have to pay Rs 50, for a CD Rs 100, for a DVD Rs 200. For those living under the poverty line, there are some exemptions. The language for the info under the RTI can be mentioned.

Under the RTI, info has to be provided within a month. The info will have to be conveyed within 2 days of the application if the matter relates to one's life or freedom.

If an RTI application is rejected, the reasons for such rejection will have to be conveyed by the officer concerned. The Appellate Authority concerned will also need to be mentioned by the official. In such a case, the Appellate Authority needs to be approached.
Agency: Ap7am Desk

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