The Right to Information Act of 2005 is important to maintain transparency in the government system and makes it mandatory for public authority to send timely response to a request for public information, asked by any citizen.
To get this information, there is a set RTI format. However, the fact is, RTI format varies from department to department and state to state. For this reason, there are RTI forms in these various formats which need to be filled to get the answers. The format you need to chose depends on which department/ministry/body your question is asked to.
These RTI forms can be filed to seek and get information from the Public Information Officer of the concerned public authority. The information will be obtained according to the RTI act, but the applicant must be clear about what information is needed and accordingly furnish the query by filing RTI forms.
However, most of the RTI format require a similar set of information to be filled in by the applicant.
RTI forms requirements - 4 Things to know:
The necessary requirements to fill RTI forms under the Right to Information act are:
a. The applicant should be a citizen of India.
b. RTI format should have the details of the required information.
c. The application fee must be paid and a receipt must be enclosed / proof of payment must be provided.
d. The applicant address must be included in the RTI forms for a reply to be sent.
Only the necessary personal details of the applicant are required for a reply. No other information needs to be mentioned or called for by the PIO, thus protecting your rights as a citizen.
How to fill and Submit RTI Forms - Simple steps to follow:
Most of the Right To Information Act Application Forms will have a similar set of information they require. The format and language which is acceptable, may change, however. Here is how a typical RTI form would look:
Here are the 9 basic steps involved in submitting RTI forms successfully:
Step 1: Query subject line
RTI format require a subject for your RTI request. Use an easily understandable subject title. Typically start with "Seeking information under the RTI Act for…". If there are multiple Public Information Officers, the subject helps to direct it to the concerned PIO.
Step 2: Choose the Department
Try to identify the public authority you want information from. Subjects may fall under the State governments or local panchayat or the Central government. You can search the government websites or visit the nearest office for enquiries.
Do note: That failing to address it to the right department will result in your RTI query being rejected. So ensure you do your research and address the right authority.
Step 3: Fill the RTI forms
You can handwrite your RTI application on a white sheet or type it out in English, Hindi or regional language.
But remember to write the correct question and be very specific. Any wrong question or lack of clear details as to what information is exactly required, will result in rejection of the RTI request.
Step 4: Find out the concerned Public Information Officer
RTI Act provides that in the RTI application format, letter should be addressed to the concerned PIO. Details of PIOs and Appellate Authorities can be obtained on telephone or by visiting the respective office.
Important points to be noted here are:
Address your RTI application to the correct Public Information Officer.
Clearly write the correct name and address of the office from which you need information.
Mention ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act’ in your subject for clarity.
Addressing to the wrong PIO may lead to rejection or delayed response.
Step 5: Procedure for Submitting RTI Forms
RTI applications need to be submitted according to the procedure in the RTI rules, as follows:
Specific details and documents in your request: Ask your request in the form of detailed yet specific questions, and also mention the period your request is being made for - like year, month etc. Include requests for documents or extracts, if required. Be specific as to what kind of documents do you need.
Format and Word Limit: RTI Application must be drafted according to the prescribed format that your state or department in question demands. Also the word limit mentioned in the RTI rules is 500 words. If your RTI forms exceed word limit, fill two separate applications.
Step 6: Charges/ Fees
Here are the typical charges / fees for an RTI application:
Application Fee of Rs.10/-.
Document charges: To obtain documents, the applicant has to make a payment of Rs.2/- per A4 size page and Rs.50/- per CD.
Inspection Charges: No charge for first hour, Rs.5/- for every subsequent hour or part thereof.
Mode of Payment of Fee:
Indian Postal Order or
Demand Draft or
Bankers' Cheque or
Cash to the public authority, with proper receipt.
Step 7: Applicant’s Details
Applicant’s name and full address, including PIN Code should be mentioned correctly in the RTI forms. Contact number may help PIO staff to contact you, but not compulsory.
Step 8: Send RTI forms and keep receipts / photocopies
An applicant can submit RTI forms in different ways:
Speed Post/ Registered Post by Indian Postal Services.
Hand delivery by physically visiting the office.
Via CAPIOs/Designated Post Offices - The State-wise list of such Designated Post Offices & CAPIOs can be found here.
Take a photocopy of the RTI forms for future reference and get an acknowledgement after submitting the same.
Do ensure that your questions or queries in the RTI forms relate to your subject and are concise. This will make it easier for you to obtain the information that you require in the fastest possible manner.
What next after you have submitted the RTI Act Application Forms?
According to the RTI act, information should be provided in 30 days. Otherwise, an appeal can be filed to The Appellate Authority, who is required to reply in 30 days from the date of receipt. If it fails to reply, you can file an appeal with the Information Commission.
While the above process may appear to be easy at first, it is actually not that simple. As mentioned above, there are different formats and languages preferred by different departments and governments. To add to it the payment process too differs. Some may accept cash and some allow for postal orders only, while some of them are OK with cheques and demand drafts as well.
If that was not enough, finding the right PIO to whom you need to address and then asking precisely the exact question which ensures a reply from the correct authority is a task you need to be very careful of. Any wrong question, or vagueness in query will lead to rejection and you will have to apply all over again.
Not to mention the fact that some of the departments will require physical delivery of the application.
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