Right to Information Act, 2005
The Right to Information (RTI) is an act of the Parliament of India which sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens' right to information. It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002. Under the provisions of RTI Act, any citizen of India may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. In case of matter involving a petitioner's life and liberty, the information has to be provided within 48 hours. The Act also requires every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to proactively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.
The RTI Bill was passed by Parliament of India on 15 June 2005 and came into force with effect from 12 October 2005. Every day on an average, over 4800 RTI applications are filed. In the first ten years of the commencement of the act over 17,500,000 applications had been filed.
The RTI Act mandates that any Indian citizen is free to seek any information from any public or government authority and the authority is under liability to respond to such a request within a period of 30 days from the date of receiving such an application. However, the information sought must not be related to defense, national security, or personal details. Before the advent of the RTI act, the disclosure of information in India was restricted by the Official Secrets Act and some other special laws. The RTI Act relaxed many such laws in the country.
RTI act has also made it mandatory for computerizing the records for the purpose of wide spread relay so that any information sought by the public can be processed quickly aided by the information categorization.
How to file RTI
1. Identify the department to which your RTI Maharashtra query should be sent:
The first step involves identifying the department to which the RTI Application must be sent. This is a very important step since mentioning the wrong department could lead to rejection of your RTI Application. Thus, carefully identify which department you wish to extract the information from.
For eg, all civic issues like water problem, garbage, street lights etc
2. Write your questions in the Application:
Once you know the department, begin with writing the RTI Application. Make sure to ask direct and to-the-point questions so that the application is easier to understand. Asking the wrong questions too, could lead to rejection. Also, make sure you follow the proper format of the application as prescribed by the Government of Maharashtra.
You can write the application in Marathi or English language and will get the reply in Marathi or English. There is a separate format for RTI Form in Marathi. Also, the total number of words in your RTI Application from Maharashtra must not be more than 150.
3. Pay the fees for your RTI Maharashtra Application:
As per the Maharashtra Government, the application fee for RTI Maharashtra is Rs. 10/-. Attach the fee in the form of Court Fee Stamp.
4. Submit the application:
Once the above mentioned steps are taken care of, you need to simply send your application via speed post or registered post.
If you don’t want to physically file RTI you can file RTI online on their website.
Many activists view the Right to Information Act as a final liberation from British colonialism; they describe the RTI law as “a tool for empowering ordinary citizens and changing the culture of governance by making it transparent, less corrupt, participatory, and accountable". They also note that RTI requests provide strategy and substance for activists on a broad range of social issues, including "land and environmental rights, social security benefits, the working of financial institutions, political party financing reform, civic infrastructure, and even public-private partnerships”.
Rejection of RTI
Scholars argue that the Right to Information Act's original intent to make government transparent and accountable is faltering as RTI requests are rejected and the bureaucratic systems are bogged down by millions of requests.
Many RTIs are rejected because the bureaucratic requirements (including the technocratic language used) of filing are too onerous and legalistic for ordinary citizens. Sixty percent of the RTI appeals made to Information Commissioners in Delhi are rejected for a variety of reasons, including that appeals are not typed or not written in English, or lack an index of the papers attached or a list of date. This bureaucratic barrier, worse for those without access to higher education or information, makes the right to information inaccessible. Many citizens have to seek out NGOs, RTI activists, or lawyers, to file their RTIs.
A citizen who desires to seek some information from a public authority is required to send, along with the application (a Postal order or DD or a bankers cheque) payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority as fee prescribed for seeking information. If the person is from a disadvantaged community, he/she need not pay.The applicant may also be required to pay further fee towards the cost of providing the information, details of which shall be intimated to the applicant by the PIO (Public Information Officer) as prescribed by the RTI ACT.