Although for RTI applicants it is necessary to have bare reading of the entire Right to Information Act, 2005 at least once or twice but nevertheless there are certain provisions in RTI Act which every RTI applicant must know and keep them in consideration while drafting RTI application. These provisions are as follows:
Provision regarding jurisdictional applicability of RTI Act.
Section-1(2): It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Provisions regarding important terms used in RTI Act.
Section- 2 (a): “Appropriate Government” means in relation to a public authority which is established, constituted, owned, controlled or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly:
(i) By the Central Government or the Union territory administration, the Central Government;
(ii) By the State Government, the State Government.
Section- 2 (f): “Information” means any material in any form, including Records, Documents, Memos, e-mails, Opinions, Advices, Press releases, Circulars, Orders, Logbooks, Contracts, Reports, Papers, Samples, Models, Data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a Public Authority under any other law for the time being in force.
Section- 2 (h): “Public Authority” means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted:
a. By or under the Constitution,
b. By any other law made by Parliament;
c. By any other law made by State Legislature;
d. By notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government
It also includes any:
(i) Body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
(ii) Non-Government Organisation substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
Section- 2 (i): “Record” includes:
(a) Any document, manuscript and file;
(b) Any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document;
(c) Any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and
(d) Any other material produced by a computer or any other device.
Section- 2(j): “Right to Information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to:
(i) Inspection of work, Documents, Records;
(ii) Taking notes, Extracts or Certified copies of documents or records;
(iii) Taking certified samples of material;
(iv) Obtaining information in the form of Diskettes, Floppies, Tapes, Video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device.
Provision regarding who can file RTI.
Section- 3: Subject to the provisions of this Act, all Indian citizens shall have the Right to Information.
Provisions regarding duties of Public Information Officer (PIO).
Section- 5 (3): Every Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking such information.
Section- 6 (1): A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed specifying the particulars of the information sought by him or her to:
(a) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, of the concerned Public Authority;
(b) The Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.
Cause of Information
Section- 6 (2): An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him/her.
Provision regarding transfer of Application to another Public Authority.
Section- 6 (3): Where an application is made to a Public Authority requesting for information:
(i) Which is held by another public authority; or
(ii) The subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another Public Authority
The Public Authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other Public Authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer.
Such application shall be transferred within 05 (Five) days from the date of receipt of the Application.
Provision regarding time limit for supplying information.
Section- 7 (1): Subject to the proviso to sub-section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to subsection (3) of section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, on receipt of a request under section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within 30 (Thirty) days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9.
If the sought information concerns the life or liberty of a person, in that case informationshall be provided within 48 (Forty-Eight) hours of the receipt of the request.
Section- 7 (2): If the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, fails to give decision on the request for information within the period specified under section 7(1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be deemed to have refused the request.
Provision regarding RTI fees.
Section- 7 (5): Where access to information is to be provided in the printed or in any electronic format, the applicant shall, subject to the provisions of sub-section (6), pay such fee as may be prescribed.
The fee prescribed under sub-section (1) of section 6 and sub-sections (1) and (5) of section 7 shall be reasonable and no such fee shall be charged from the persons who are of below poverty line as may be determined by the appropriate Government.
When information provided free of cost:
Section- 7 (6): Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (5) of section- 5, the person making request for the information shall be provided the information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limits specified in sub-section (1).
Provision regarding rejection of Information.
Section- 7 (8): Where a request has been rejected under sub-section (1) of Section- 7, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall communicate to the person making the request,
(i) The reasons for such rejection;
(ii) The period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred; and
(iii) The particulars of the Appellate Authority.
Provision regarding non disclosure of Information by Public authority.
Section- 8 (1): Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,
(i) 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;
(ii) 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;
(iii) Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
(iv) 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;
(v) 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;
(vi) Information received in confidence from foreign Government;
(vii) 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;
(viii) Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
(ix) 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.
Those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed.
(x) Information which relates to personal information and 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.
The information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
Section- 9: Without prejudice to the provisions of section 8, a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may reject a request for information where such a request for providing access would involve an infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the State.
Supply of partial information
Section- 10 (1): Where a request for access to information is rejected on the ground that it is in relation to information which is exempt from disclosure, then, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure under this Act and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information.
Provision regarding I appeal and II appeal
Section- 19 (1): Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified in sub-section (1) or clause (a) of sub-section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be, in each Public Authority.
Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
Section- 19 (3): A second appeal against the decision under sub-section (1) of Section- 19 shall lie within 90 (Ninety) days from the date on which the decision should have been made or was actually received, with the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission.
Provided that the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of 90 (Ninety) days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
Time limit for decision on First and Second Appeal
Section- 19 (6): An appeal under section 19 (1) or section 19 (2) shall be disposed of within 30 (thirty) days of the receipt of the appeal or within such extended period not exceeding a total of 45 (forty-five) days from the date of filing thereof, as the case may be, for reasons to be recorded in writing.
Provision regarding Penalty on Public Information Officer
Section- 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 Rs 250 (Two Hundred and Fifty) 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.
The burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
Note: All the above information has been taken from the Constitutional text of RTI Act, 2005 and has been presented in a simpler form for layman understanding. In case of any variation in terms of meaning and definition, the original text will be final. Original text is available at the Central Information Commission portal.