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Standard format of RTI reply by Public Information Officer

Standard format of RTI replyDepartment of Personnel and Training , Director IR has invited views/suggestions from the citizens on the draft guidelines regarding elements that a RTI reply should essentially contain by 16.04.2015. through email  at usrti-dopt@nic.in. You can visit our forum here and post your views/suggestion for improvement.

The draft format has been vetted by Ministry of Law and Justice and contains following elements:

  1. The name, designation, official telephone number and email ID of the CPIO
  2. In case the information requested for is denied, detailed reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned.
  3. In case the information pertains to other public authority and the application is transferred under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be given.
  4. In the concluding para of the reply, it should be clearly mentioned that the First Appeal, if any, against the reply of the CPIO may be made to the First Appellate Authority within 30 days of receipts of reply of CPIO.
  5. The name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail ID of the First Appellate Authority should also be clearly mentioned.
  6. In addition, wherever the applicant has requested for ‘certified copies’ of the documents or records, the CPIO should endorse on the document “True copy of the document/record”. sign the document with date, above a seal containing name of the officer, CPIO (in place of designation) and name of public authority.

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Public Interest and Private Interest under RTI Act

Public Interest

Public Interest and Private Interest under RTI Act

Frequently under Right to Information Act 2005, Public Authorities have been exempting information in narrower interpretation of the term Public Interest within the RTI Act 2005. Itself the definition of Public Interest is vague and RTI Act 2005 amplifies by stating “Larger Public Interest”. Refer Section 8 e and 8 j of RTI Act. According to one of the dictionary Public Interest is defined as :

“Welfare of the general public (in contrast to the selfish interest of a person, group, or firm) in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies.”

Despite the vagueness of the term, public interest is claimed generally by governments in matters of state secrecy and confidentiality. Thus it is approximated by comparing expected gains and potential costs or losses associated with a decision, policy,program, or project and is fairly left for the discretion of Public Authority to interpret

“..is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.” RTI Act Section 8 j

Does it mean that Public Interest is the sum of individual interests? Is the public interest, then, that what is sought by the majority? Should the perspective used in defining the public interest be purely numerical? Can the term “public interest” include the protection of certain “higher” objective values? Can those values then be protected even against the will of the majority? If so, who should define and protect the public interest in a democratic form of government? In a democracy, policy decisions are formed based on the principle of majority, i.e. by voting procedure. A majority decision (e.g. a law or constitutional law) is a sum of individual interests, or the result of compromises reconciling individual interests; the main mediators of these interests are political parties. Is a majority interest also a public interest? – Taken from the Research Paper here!

However, the fact of the matter is that.. Read more ›




You can have access to information of one Ministry by applying to another Ministry

Access to Information under RTI

Access to Information from other Ministry

Access to Information from one Government organisation is a simple step process. But can you access information of one Ministry from another? The Answer is ‘Yes’.

Government Ministries frequently refer the matter to other Ministries either for specialised inputs or for seeking approvals. Other times it is mandatory for a Government Department/ Ministry to forward the file to other Ministry. For example a file meant to creation of Posts is referred to DoPT and Ministry of Finance for seeking inputs and then for approvals.

Similarly an Expenditure Finance Commission (EFC) proposal is sent to various ministries for consultation before it is put up before the Cabinet for approval. In most of the cases the whole documents are forwarded to other Ministries and sometimes it is the self contained note. If the Single File System is followed, then invariably the whole file is sent.

Whatever be the case, it is for sure that other Ministries keep the Internal file for the Inter-Ministerial consultation and / or create shadow file. In a regular Ministry, once a file is received, the receiving Ministry create an Internal file and bring most of the facts into it. Once it is approved, the decision to it is conveyed in the original file stating the decision and that it has been approved by the competent authority.

Similarly, most of the contracts and issues involving legal vetting, the whole file is sent to Department of Legal Affairs (DLA) for opinion. Most of the time, the DLA keeps a shadow file and copy of the advise given.

Therefore, all such cases where Inter-Ministerial consultation and referencing has been done, there are both Internal file corresponding to the main file and also a shadow file of the main file. In such cases the question arises, can one have access to information relating to other Ministry?

There is a very informative post available on our discussion forum here regarding this subject. The decision of High Court has been produced in this reference there, which is quoted as below: Read more ›




Right to Information Application form- can you ask why?

Right to Information Application form

Right to Information Application form- can you ask why?

In Right to Information Application form, Information is being denied by Government under RTI Act because the applicant has asked reasons. Application asking why what is generally refused by Public authority. Therefore, it has been advised that an applicant refrain from drafting RTI Application having why and What under RTI. For example a query under RTI such has

Why was the decision taken to cancel the tender?

The above question shall be refused by the Public Authority resorting to provision of RTI Act that such information cannot be provided. Therefore, it has been advised by most of the activist and guides that the query be framed like this:

Please provide me the documents on which the decision was taken to cancel the tender.

However, it is very clear from the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, that information held by the Public Authority in material form has to be provided to the information seeker, unless such information is denied under one of the exemption provisions of the RTI Act. Section 2 of the RTI Act defines the form of the information that can be accessed by citizen of India. Simply because the Right to Information Application form has prefixed query with why and what does not debar him for receiving information if that is a part of the record held by the Public Authority.

Therefore in the above example, if the reasons as to why the tender was cancelled has been recorded in the file or is held in any form by the Government, it shall be provided under the Right to Information Act 2005. This stand has been substantiated by CIC in one of the decision where the information was denied as the respondent nature of queries of RTI application were in the nature of queries prefixing why and what and was not replied to stating that since such queries do not come within the ambit of section 2(f) of the RTI Act, the information cannot be provided.




Time limits under RTI Act 2005?

time limits under RTI Act

What are the time limits under RTI Act 2005?

Though the RTI Act has prescribed the time limits for various activities under which the action has to be performed, it is often found that most of the RTI Applicants are not clear about the time limits. We have tried to compile such time limits from within the RTI Act 2005 and tabulate it into one document.

So What are the time limits under RTI Act 2005?

Right to Information Act 2005 has prescribed time limits for various activities under which you shall get the reply from Public Authorities, the time for Decision of PIO in RTI Application, Transferring RTI Application toanother Public Authority, time to be taken for Decision by PIO on Applicationsconcerning Life & Liberty, time for Deemed refusal by PIO , time for Physical supply of information onremitting document charges(period between dispatch ofPIO’s decision and receipt ofdocument charges/fee to beexcluded to calculate time limit), time under which applicant is entitled to informationFREE of CHARGE/FEE ifinformation is not provided withintime limit, time for which Disclosure of information is exempted under Sec-8 [subject toClause (a), (c) (i) of Sub-Sec-(1)], time for which the Notice to third Party is to be issued, time for supply of information in ThirdParty cases, time for Decision by Departmental/FirstAppellate Authority (FAA), time for Supply of information relating tohuman right violations orallegations of corruption withrespect to security organizationsof Union Government included inSECOND SCHEDULE, withapproval of CIC e.t.c.

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