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Priya De

Four Biggest Mistakes you can avoid in your RTI Application

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The Right to Information Act 2005 empowers every citizen to ask for information from Government Organisations. This information can be about your own personal case or more complex Government Policy. The Act also empowers us to take photocopies of the Government records and also online data in a form of CD. However, often PIO being Government Servant who perhaps is also the custodian of the information has conflict of interest in giving out such information.

Every Government Official at one point or the other has been trained to deceive politely. The RTI reply is no exception. Many a times, the information given is full but empty. And they use smart writing skills to give but hide.

If you go through the various threads posted at our forums here, you will realise that most of the battle is won or lost during the framing of the questions itself. Our experienced RTI Experts and team members continuously go on improving the RTI Application questions on the users requests. Let us now see what are the biggest mistakes you can avoid in your RTI Application.


  1. Asking 'Why' in the RTI Application: As per the RTI Act, the information being asked should be available in any form. The information cannot be created. Thus if a question is asked "why my speed post has not been delivered", probably, the PIO will straightway reject the application and quote nicely the RTI Act Para in the reply. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid 'WHY' from your RTI Application instead documents which can prove they 'WHY' should be asked. For example to get the reason why the Speed post was not delivered, you should ask 'Provide me the copy of the Postmen beat register of {date}'.
  2. Addressing questions pertaining to multiple PIO: As per RTI Act Section 6 (3) (ii) if the RTI Application is made for the subject matter which is not closely associated, 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. Now this is a booby trap. Though Central Information Commission has critically examined this but still you will keep on getting the letter from one PIO to another that 'As per section 6 (3) (ii), your RTI application has been transferred to concerned PIO'. This means that you will never get the correct reply. The best course of action is to be do some homework by visiting websites of the Organisation and finding the correct PIO.
  3. Asking for Voluminous records: If you ask for information which is too voluminous, the PIO will apply section 7(9) stating that "it disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question." Thus asking for Muster roll records for 4 year period will fit the case of rejection. It is always advisable that the information period should be short. Further, if PIO failed to apply 7 (9), he will ask you to deposit exorbitant photocopy charges for all the records.
  4. Asking for third party information without proving public interest: Now this is the most debated and contested issue in terms of RTI request. If you ask for a third party information always remember to include 'Public Interest' clause into it. Without 'Public Interest' petition, the PIO will immediately reject it by quoting Section 8 (1) (j) & Section 11 of the RTI Act. You can read our Explanation on what is third Party and various decisions relating to them here! There is a potential issue of PIO applying 'Privacy' clause of RTI. Therefore, it is suggested that as far as possible information about third party should be avoided, however, if at all it is but important, then always justify your RTI Application with 'how disclosure of the third party is in public interest'. You can use the corruption angle exposure while justifying Public Interest.


There are many such examples and pitfalls which you may find it over on forums and from experts. If you think of any more, please do add it in the comments.
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Comments

  1. jj99's Avatar
    why can be substituted by Section 4(1)(d) ( reasons ) if reasons are on record
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  2. jogeshwar's Avatar
    The OM No.10/2/2008-IR dated the 12th June,2008 by DOPT,Ministry of Personnel, PG and Pension on "RTI applications received by a public authority regarding information concerning other public authority/authorities.

    Is mandatory to comply?
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  3. jogeshwar's Avatar
    Comments on points:
    1.OK.
    2.As per the above cited Office Memorandum the application recipient is to provide whatever information he has.
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  4. jogeshwar's Avatar
    3.It is no guarantee that seeking quantum information will necessarily succeed. i am seeking the date of disbursement of my last pay as per office record since 09/12.2014. I have received 4 replies,2 of which are on the order of 1st appellate authority.but all are deceptive/misleading.
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  5. jogeshwar's Avatar
    4. In such application I mention the subject as [FONT=Arial Black]"Seeking information under RTI Act for steps to just, fair and reasonableness"[/FONT] I get replies,whatsever. Is it oK?
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  6. jogeshwar's Avatar
    [QUOTE=jj99;bt8166]why can be substituted by Section 4(1)(d) ( reasons ) if reasons are on record[/QUOTE]

    Please elaborate how your query is linked with this blog?
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  7. jogeshwar's Avatar
    Dear Priya ji, with current trends of affairs how long it will take to become The RTI Act sterile/obsolete?

    Any assessment by any body?
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  8. jogeshwar's Avatar
    Dear Priya j! are the blogs one way traffics?
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  9. sevekari's Avatar
    It is observed that the PIOs try to hide information rather than give information. All efforts are towards not disclosing the information.
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting
  10. sumedh14's Avatar
    thanks it is most useful
    0 Like this Post, 0 Love this, 0 Interesting

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