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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  1. When did it come into force?

    It came into force on the 12th October, 2005 (125th day of its enactment on 15th June, 2005) 
    Some provisions have come into force with immediate effect.

  2. Who is covered under this Act?

    It extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir [S.12].

  3. What does information mean?

    Information is any material in any form. It includes records, documents memos, e-mails, opinions advices press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, data materials held in any electronic form. It also includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public authority under any law for the time being in force.

  4. What does right to information mean?

    It includes right to-inspect works, documents, records, take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents, or records. take certified samples of material, obtain information in the form of printouts, diskettes ,floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts.[S.2(j)]

  5. What are the obligations of the public authority?

    The public authority shall maintain all its records duly cataloged and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under the act. [S.4(1)a]

    The public authority shall publish within 125 days of the enactment:-

    1. the particulars of its organization, function and duties
    2. the powers and duties of its officers and employees
    3. the procedure in its decision making process, Including channel of supervision and accountability
    4. the norms set by it in the discharge of the functions
    5. the rules, regulations, instructions manual and records used by its employees for the discharge of the functions
    6. a statement of categories of the documents held by it under its control
    7. the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by the members of the public, in relation to the formulation of policy orimplementation thereof;
    8. A statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted by it. Additionally, information as to whether the meetings of these are open to the public, or the minutes' of such meetings are accessible to the public;
    9. a directory of its officers and employees;
    10. the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
    11. the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
    12. the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details and beneficiaries of such programmes;
    13. particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by it; details of the information available to, or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;
    14. the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use;
    15. the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers.[S.4(1)(b)]
  6. What is not open to disclosure?

    The right to information is not absolute. Section 8&9 of the act enumerates the categories of in formations which are exempted from disclosure. Which includes Information, disclosure 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

  7. Is partial disclosure allowed?

    Only that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempted from disclosure and which can easily be severed from any part that contains exempted information, may be provided.[S.10]

  8. What does a ‘public authority’ mean?

    It means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted [S.2(h)]

    • By or under the constitution
    • By any other law made by the parliament
    • By any other law made by the State Legislature
    • By notification issued or ordered by the appropriate government and includes any-body owned, controlled or substantially financed
    • Non-government organization substantially financed directly or indirectly by the appropriate government.
  9. Who are ‘Third Parties’?

    A third party means a person other the citizen making a request for information and includes a public authority. Third parties have a right to be heard in respect of applications and appeals dealing with information submitted by them to the government in confidence.[S2(n) and S.11]

  10. Who are Public Information Officers (PIO)?

    PIOs are officers designated by the public authorities in all administrative units or offices under it to provide information to the citizens requesting for information under the Act. Any officer, whose assistance has been sought by the PIO for the proper discharge of his or her duties, shall render all assistance and for the purpose of contraventions of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a PIO.

  11. What are the duties of a PIO?

    PIO shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and where the request cannot be made in writing, to render reasonable assistance to the person to reduce the same in writing. 

    If the information requested for is held by or its subject matter is closely connected with the function of another public authority, the PIO shall transfer, within 5 days, the request to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately. 

    PIO may seek the assistance of any other officer for the proper discharge of his/her duties. 

    PIO, on receipt of a request, shall as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within 30 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 S.8 or S.9. 

    Where the information requested for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request.

    If the PIO fails to give decision on the request within the period specified, he shall be deemed to have refused the request.

    Where a request has been rejected, the PIO shall communicate to the requester -

    1. the reasons for such rejection,
    2. the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred, and
    3. the particulars of the Appellate Authority.

    PIO shall provide information in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the Public Authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.

    If allowing partial access, the PIO shall give a notice to the applicant, informing:-

    • that only part of the record requested, after severance of the record containing information which is exempt from disclosure, is being provided;
    • the reasons for the decision, including any findings on any material question of fact, referring to the material on which those findings were based;
    • the name and designation of the person giving the decision;
    • the details of the fees calculated by him or her and the amount of fee which the applicant is required to deposit; and
    • his or her rights with respect to review of the decision regarding non-disclosure of part of the information, the amount of fee charged or the form of access provided.

    If information sought has been supplied by third party or is treated as confidential by that third party, the PIO shall give a written notice to the third party within 5 days from the receipt of the request and take its representation into consideration.

    Third party must be given a chance to make a representation before the PIO within 10 days from the date of receipt of such notice.

  12. What is the Application Procedure for requesting information?

    Apply in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area, to the PIO, specifying the particulars of the information sought for.

    Reason for seeking information are not required to be given;

    Pay fees as may be prescribed (if not belonging to the below poverty line category).

  13. What is the time limit to get the information?

    30 days from the date of receipt of application.

    48 hours for information concerning the life and liberty of a person

    5 days shall be added to the above response time, in case the application for information is given to Assistant Public Information Officer.

    If the interests of a third party are involved then time limit will be 40 days (maximum period + time given to the party to make representation).

    Failure to provide information within the specified period is a deemed refusal

  14. What is the fee for seeking information?

    Application fees to be prescribed which must be reasonable.

    If further fees are required, then the same must be intimated in writing with calculation details of how the figure was arrived at;

    Applicant can seek review of the decision on fees charged by the PIO by applying to the appropriate Appellate Authority;

    No fees will be charged from people living below the poverty line;

    Applicant must be provided information free of cost if the PIO fails to comply with the prescribed time limit.

  15. What could be the ground for rejection?

    If it is covered by exemption from disclosure. (S.8)

    If it infringes copyright of any person other than the State. (S.9)

  16. Who are the Appellate Authorities?

    First Appeal: First appeal should be addressed to the officer senior in rank to the PIO in the concerned Public Authority within 30 days from the expiry of the prescribed time limit or from the receipt of the decision (delay may be condoned by the Appellate Authority if sufficient cause is shown).

    Second Appeal: Second appeal to the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission as the case may be, within 90 days of the date on which the decision was given or should have been made by the First Appellate Authority. (delay may be condoned by the Commission if sufficient cause is shown).

    Third Party appeal against PIO's decision must be filed within 30 days before first Appellate Authority; and, within 90 days of the decision on the first appeal, before the appropriate Information Commission which is the second appellate authority.

    Burden of proving that denial of Information was justified lies with the PIO.

    First Appeal shall be disposed of within 30 days from the date of its receipt. Period extendable by 15 days if necessary. (S.19)

  17. What are the penalty provisions?

    Every PIO will be liable for fine of Rs. 250 per day, up to a maximum of Rs. 25,000/-, for -

    • not accepting an application;
    • delaying information release without reasonable cause;
    • malafidely denying information;
    • knowingly giving incomplete, incorrect, misleading information;
    • destroying information that has been requested and
    • obstructing furnishing of information in any manner.

    The Information Commission (IC) at the Centre and the State levels will have the power to impose this penalty. The Information Commission can also recommend disciplinary action for violation of the law against an erring PIO. (S.20) 

  18. What are the powers and functions of Information Commissions?

    The Central Information Commission/State Information Commission has a duty to receive complaints from any person -

    1. who has not been able to submit an information request because a PIO has not been appointed ;
    2. who has been refused information that was requested;
    3. who has received no response to his/her information request within the specified time limits ; 
    4. who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable ;
    5.  who thinks information given is incomplete or false or misleading ;and
    6. any other matter relating to obtaining information under this law.

    Power to order inquiry if there are reasonable grounds. 

    CIC/SCIC will have powers of Civil Court such as -

    1. summoning and enforcing attendance of persons, compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce documents or things;
    2. requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
    3. receiving evidence on affidavit ;
    4. requisitioning public records or copies from any court or office
    5. issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents
    6. any other matter which may be prescribed.

    All records covered by this law (including those covered by exemptions) must be given to CIC/SCIC during inquiry for examination.

    Power to secure compliance of its decisions from the Public Authority includes-

    1. a) Providing access to information in a particular form;
    2. Directing the public authority to appoint a PIO/APIO where none exists;
    3. Publishing information or categories of information;
    4. Making necessary changes to the practices relating to management, maintenance and destruction of records;
    5. Enhancing training provision for officials on RTI;
    6. Seeking an annual report from the public authority on compliance with this law;
    7. Require it to compensate for any loss or other detriment suffered by the applicant;
    8. Impose penalties under this law; or
    9. Reject the application. (S.18 and S.19)