How to file an RTI Petition?

Written by vik

Topics: RTI

How to file an RTI (Right to Information) Petition/application/query


rti

I have filed a number of RTI petitions so far with various administrative bodies including the UPSC, India Post, UGC and CSIR . Some of my friends in the past have enquired on how to file an RTI petition.

The cyberspace is  full of this information yet I intend to elaborate the same here minus the jargon. This is not exhaustive; please must visit the links provided at the end of this article and read more.

My friend Shivaji Mukherjee, a research scholar with the Yale University, wanted to file  some RTI petition in course of his research on Naxalism and phoned me in this connection.  This post has been triggered by his query. Next time a friend/acquaintance is asking me this, he/she will directed to this entry.

  • The Basics first. RTI, put simply, is meant for empowerment of the people. Knowledge is power and RTI intends to give this power to  people. The RTI act was passed in the year 2005 in India with a lot of hullabaloo and noise. It was a demand long overdue. The most prominent names associated with the RTI activism are Arvind Kejriwal and Aruna Roy, the two Ramon Magsasay Awardees. The Act covers the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir.
  • what does ‘information’ mean:
    “Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force[S.2(f)]“.[excerpted from the Act].
  • What is the time limit to get the information:
  • 1. “30 days from the date of application
    2. 48 hours for information concerning the life and liberty of a person
    3. 5 days shall be added to the above response time, in case the application for information is given to Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO).
    4. 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).
    5. Failure to provide information within the specified period is a deemed. “

  • The Fees: “The fee charge should be “reasonable” and no fee is to be taken from people below the poverty line. If further fees are required, “the same must be intimated in writing with calculation details of how the figure was arrived at.”
  • Who are the PIOs (Public Information Officers)/Where to file the RTI application: “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.”
  • So, you submit your application to the concerned CPIO (Central Public Information Officer)  of the institution. Every government body has to notify the names of CPIOs/PIOs with whom an RTI application can be filed.
  • You just have to find the name of the officers from the website of the institute and deposit your RTI query by hand/post/courier. Also retain a photocopy of your RTI with yourself.
  • Pay the fee by cash/cheque/demand draft/postal order. Some state government institutions also accept money orders and court fee stamps. My experience is only with central govt. institutions so far (explore the links below if you have some state government institution to bother). Do not forget to take the acknowledgment/fee receipt if you are depositing the RTI petition by hand.
  • Your information should reach you by registered/speed/ordinary post in 30 days. Many government institutions (such as the UPSC)  are not very forthcoming in releasing information (for obvious reasons).
  • You can make the first appeal to the superior of the PIO within the institution and the second appeal to the Central Information Commission (CIC). The High Court and the Supreme Court comes next! The first appeal is a simple application like the first one to the superior of the PIO (with all the details) but the second appeal (to the CIC)  is more elaborate and you must read the details/protocol for submission on the CIC website.
  • You can ask a variety of questions in your RTI petition such as your exam marks, expenditure by a government body on a certain item, past year questions, errors made in question papers by examining bodies, instances of unethicalism and the like.
  • Just make sure that you do not ask something that is not covered by the law such as cabinet papers, trade secret etc. and that you do not ask to bodies like IB, R&AW, CBI etc. (they are  sacred cows!). Read the act to know more.

  • Be brief in your application (government officers are not voracious readers!) and give all your details including address, signature and phone no.

  • I filed RTI application when the JNU campus post office staff was lazy and irritating! I filed RTI application when UGC and CSIR behave unethically  when they declare results of the previous exam after the last date of filling the application forms for the next (the practice cotinues unabated)!
  • I filed RTI application when JNU administration’s  internet connection (Wi-Fi) makes us wait eons or when the local photocopier will insist on back -to-back photocopying only (and not one side of the page only which is less profitable for him)! Little success but great satisfaction! I have followed only one RTI petition (UPSC)  until the third appeal (it is with the CIC, hopelessly).

Here are two samples from my RTI applications. The first one was to UGC (a similar one was sent to CSIR too).

_______________________________________________________

Rajesh Anand
Joint Secretary/ CPIO
University Grant Commission (U G C)
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi
Pin: 110 002

Date: February      , 2008

[Subject: Seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005]

Sir,

Please find attached herewith my RTI queries. It relates to the examinations conducted by the Commission. It is a total of three pages including this cover page.

You are free to inform or reveal any additional information related to these queries or any other information about the examinations.

Please find enclosed herewith an amount of   Rs ____ in postal order/cheque/draft/cash. Feel free to email me for any additional information.

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,

[signature]
Name, add, email, phone no.

*****

1.    With respect to the UGC NET examination, you have been publishing results of the examination only after the last date of applying for the next examination is over or is approaching! This leads to tremendous wastage of students’ money in that those who are selected also end up applying due to the non publication of the result! Keeping the above in view, please inform the following:

(a)    Please give the following dates for the last ten years. Please inform in a suitable table, if possible.
(I)    Date on which the UGC NET examination notification was published for all such examination held in last ten years
(II)    Date on which the applications for the said examination were to be submitted (i.e. the last date of submission of application forms)
(III)    Date on which the UGC NET results were published in the last ten years

(b)    What is the total number of candidates in each of the UGC NET examination held in last ten years who applied for the examination but were selected on the basis of the preceding examination…
(I)    Either for NET or JRF
(II)    For NET only
(III)    For JRF

(c)    What is the total amount of money collected in last ten years from candidates who applied for the UGC NET examination but were selected for JRF/NET on the basis of the immediately preceding examination?
(d)    What is the rationale behind not publishing the UGC NET results before the last date of applications of the next such examination? Please also inform how you think it is not unethical.

2.    Please inform the rationale behind not publishing the question papers for the past years.

3.    Please agree with or argue against the following popular belief:
The format/style of UGC NET examination is not suitable to test the research skills/acumen of candidates. It is more like the UPSC Civil Services Examination which is unfortunate.

4.    Candidates believe that the UGC NET evaluation of answer sheets is not satisfactory and it is an unpredictable examination. In other words, candidates are not selected despite a good performance and the vice versa!
Keeping this in view, please inform about the evaluation of answer sheets in detail. Please include factors like payments made to examiners, selection of evaluators/examiners, site of evaluation (UGC or examiners’ homes), ways to minimize/eliminate partiality/subjectivity in evaluation, modus operandi of evaluation, availability of model answers with examiners, number of answer sheets lost (if any) in recent years etc.

5.    Please give the following data in a suitable table. Please inform for each examination held separately.
(a)    Number of candidates who applied for the UGC NET examination in last two years.
(b)    Number of candidates finally selected for the UGC NET examination as in NET or JRF in last two years.

_______________________________________________________

Here is a sample RTI petition to the  UPSC

_______________________________________________________

Sh. Prachish Khanna,
Central Public Information Officer (CPIO),
DS (E-I)/EA,
UPSC,
New Delhi-110069

December , 2008

Subject: Seeking Information under the RTI Act 2005

Dear Sir,

Please provide the following information:

1.    The UPSC Chairman in the 82nd foundation day speech informed that the “Commission have reviewed the whole process of Civil Services Examination and have made a proposal to the government to replace the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination with an objective type Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT).” Please give more details on the proposed CSAT. Please inform about the nature and content of this examination.

2.    Please give me a copy of the Mehdi Verma Committee Report (2006).

3.    Is shooting with a camera by visitors/tourists of the UPSC premise allowed? Please answer in Yes or No. If No, please inform why you have not put up written advisory in the premises to prevent inconvenience to visitors who are prevented by your security guards while clicking photos.

I am submitting 20 Rupees by cash as the application fee.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

[signature]

Name/Add/Phone no.

________________________________________________________

So, as easy as ABC!? Go ahead, file your first RTI! As Aruna Roy says even if 1 per cent of the population uses it, you know what! :)

To begin with, if you are a JNUite, file an RTI with the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) on why there are almost nil DTC buses in the route no. 615!

Wait, visit these links and read more. There is so much I didn’t tell you!

Got anything to say? Leave a comment. Must check the ‘comments’ for more on the RTI.

Update: I have petitioned the DTC on buses in my campus.

27 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Ashish says:

    I will be interested in knowing outcomes of RTIs, particularly smaller ones like against photocopy guy or internet connection. Please share as these are more likely to be what common man uses rather than questioning bigger details.

  2. eksparsh says:

    Vikas, your post on Right to Information Petition is informative. Can you please share the information provided to you by UGC/UPSC, if they did it at all? It will be interesting to read their justifications.
    Thanks, Adarsh.

  3. Ashish says:

    I almost forgot that I had asked a question here, so am late in reply.

    Thank you very much for detailed response. It seems that you are quite confident and efficient in using RTI to address your grievances for all issues, which is very commendable. We Indians are not accustomed to demanding our rights. It also appears that once one does this process, it’s not that difficult to do it later for even as small a reason as lazy staff. I will try to keep this in mind and try this someday rather than letting go.

    Question: (1) How do you decide how much fee to pay since you may not number of pages in information. (2) If you deliver RTI application by post, whom do you pay fee? If you necessarily have to go to department to pay fee, why can’t application be delivered by hand?

  4. This is a very useful post, well summed up. I will guide people who ask me about ti to here. In fact, I will blog about it too.

  5. arun says:

    Hi,

    I want to file an RTI to find out some details about a particular university in Bangalore. Should I file it in the regional office or the Delhi office. I have some doubts regarding filing itself. Could you give me your email id or your mobile number?

  6. Pond says:

    good blog. thank you !

  7. deepak says:

    Dear friends i need someone who can file an RTI and get information from ministry of civil aviation abt a perticular company that on what basis Airport Entry is granted to the organisation. Actually its a big racket working at the airport afterall its a question of Rs.2000Cr business. I need someone bold as I directly don’t want to come in the picture.

  8. r.j.geetha says:

    I have completed my m.pil in 1993 and i was worked in a self finance college.Now i am working as a assistant professor in a aided college.i have a doubt. please clarify it.From june 2010 NET EXAM APPLICATION i noticed that m.phil is eligible for ug teaching.Is it? Give the details.

    thank you

  9. Ibrahim Mirza says:

    I have filed an Rti application to Baba Hospital kurla dated 5/7/2010 for the Medical report of the accused person who have falsely registered an FIR case on me and family,but unable to get it as police instructed need third party approval for it.

    We are find it difficult to get information

    Plz if you could help us to get the medical report for our convenience.

  10. Ibrahim Mirza says:

    I have already asked them but they are behaving as if they dnt know any thing.

    Filing rti at byculla would help me,pl guide

  11. Ripan says:

    how do u decide how much fee is to be paid
    i have two quires which i want to ask MCI
    how much will ihave to pay
    thanks

  12. ravi kumar says:

    hi

    my wife is a prt (teacher) in kendriya vidyalaya and she had under gone an emergency c section which the doctor had mentioned in her discharge records she was denied any kind of medical re imbursements stating that it was not an emergency and she should have gone to the designated hospitals of kendriya vidyalay to be entitled for re imbursements where as as per the rules of kendriya vidyalaya an employee can go to any hospital in case if there is an emergency. I need some help with this matter kindly help

  13. ravi kumar says:

    my wife is a prt (teacher) in kendriya vidyalaya and she had under gone an emergency c section which the doctor had mentioned in her discharge records she was denied any kind of medical re imbursements stating that it was not an emergency and she should have gone to the designated hospitals of kendriya vidyalay to be entitled for re imbursements where as as per the rules of kendriya vidyalaya an employee can go to any hospital in case if there is an emergency. I need some help with this matter kindly help

  14. chetan says:

    hi,
    u had written very good and in simple words that everybody can understand very well..
    i just want to know that can we file a rti against the private companies which take contracts from government and other companies which are related to a normal persons life. and of cause whether rti regulates for only state government bodies or on central government bodies too…

  15. narendra says:

    thank u boss u have provided great information in a very lucid manner. i also want to file an rti in upsc . it has provided me the exact manner.

  16. ayam victor singh says:

    There is no use of filing RTI to UGC, twice I’ve filed on pay conversion from 5th to 6th commission against my former employer. In both cases, the they sent me online available pay rules n fitmen tables (very funny & frustrating), because every body know that. They don’t care to think why a person filed the RTI, when the rules are available on line. They dont consider the fact that online AVAILBEL UGC rule was not followed/violated and rti are filed.
    So they will sent a hard copy of the rule available online instead of solving the problem. And their only reply is that the rule is self explanatory, which i also know that. But, the thing is, that self explanatory rule was violated by the employer, for that only, i filed the RTI. Wish UGC also understand… its really frustrating.

  17. VijAY says:

    Want to ask where can i file my appeal if the State information officer is not giving me any information on my apeal aready been filed got case no but no reply in time where should i file my petition against the party and State information commisioner.

  18. Malay Bandyapadhyay says:

    sir,

    I sat for UGC-NET, Management june 2013. I scored 64+64+76=204 marks. so, 12 marks shortage to qualify the exam for Lecturership. According to UGC’s notification I sent details of Grievance Answer keys’ explanation along with DD of Rs. 5000/- at the month of November.

    Because I have 8 grievance answer. But till now UGC will not publish the Grievance answer’s result. I mailed to UGC , but no answer from their side.

    In which tentative date the result will publish ?

  19. Apple 3G iphone is one of the most popular devices by this brand name.
    Not a lot, because you can revert your phone back again if you don’t really feel like you require the unlock.

  20. Vikas Gupta says:

    @Ashish

    I agree with you; in fact I was thinking of pasting the photographs of the replies along with it (which I will do later when I will publish all my RTI replies online).

    The JNU administration had sent a show cause notice to the photocopy shop who later came thrice to me (“seeking mercy”)! This matter holds against him in his service record with JNU and he has to be very careful against future wrongdoings! He is a normal shopkeeper now.

    The UGC and CSIR were not very forthcoming in their replies; they gave the data but not the data/reason for the delay in the publication of the results. The UGC informed in a letter that a lot of spadework was needed to give the data and that it will be sent to me in due time. However, neither they sent it to me nor I pursued it!

    I have a vast experience with UPSC though! They have a knack for hiding information.
    Friends in JNU have filed for marks in written exam/interview marks and have successfully got it.

    Once someone had filed an anonymous/pseudonymous RTI against a corrupt mess manager (JNU hostel)! It was successful and the mess manager was shown the door!

    I had filed an RTI against the local post office (the staff was kamchor, computer always down). I got a reply that action against the erratic staff was underway. Some days later I found them transferred!

    Now, very soon I will file an RTI to the Delhi Transport Corporation on why it has almost no route no. 615 bus (called ‘lifeline of JNU’) plying on the roads (there are only private ones though the DTC ad on bus stops announce a bus every 10-15 minutes!).

    Thanks for stopping by and helping me make this a more informative article.

  21. Vikas Gupta says:

    eksparsh

    I was actually posting the replies of these bodies along with the said article but somehow I cannot find them! I’ll definitely post them here (and email them to you too) as and when I find it. Meanwhile, you can read my replies to Ashish’s comments who had asked a similar question. See the comment above yours on the article.

    UPSC is not at all enthusiastic about sharing. You will come to know of it in detail later. You may visit my blog on UPSC CSE reserach at http://vikas-gupta.in.

    Thanks.

  22. Vikas Gupta says:

    @ Ashish,

    Try it sooner than later! For me, it is both satisfaction and fun.
    Sometimes, I feel it has given ‘us’ the right to question the government and its various bodies which was something that previously belonged only to MPs and MLAs sitting in the legislature! To be honest, I am still an armchair activist and RTI Act comes in handy for me.

    1. To begin with, you pay 10 Rupees; you may pay more but they usually don’t accept it. I, however, have paid from 10 Rupees to 150 Rupees to the various institutions I petitioned to prevent loss of time in communicating how they need more money to print more pages of my information!

    2. Usually you pay to the Accounts officer (name of Organization); I have submitted 90 per cent of my applications by hand and cash! They also use it as an alibi (the state level institutions in particular) to delay the procedure; so confirm it well on phone etc. They may tell you that it should have been addressed to chief acc.officer or finance officer and whatnot! The http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/ is a good source of experiences on this account.

    You may kick-start by asking some sundry questions to IIM-A. The PIO is Mr. K.S. Joshi. Go to his office and enquire on the spot on the amount to be paid etc.

    Thank you for the continued comments. This RTI:how to is becoming popular.

    P.S.: You may have subscribed to notify reply to comments by email but sometimes this service by WordPress is not fully reliable. Just see the comment widget box on my home page and you’ll get an idea of the latest in comments (including yours). To my first time commentators, I even send the replies by email. If you check the option to get email notifications of replies, you should be getting my replies to your comments in your mailbox (an email from noreply@wordpress).

  23. Vikas Gupta says:

    @ Poonam Sharma,

    Thank you. I wrote this post for the same reason; I had friends asking me how-to every now and then! So, I thought why not publish my first- hand experience(s).

    I am glad that you have found it worthy of notice. Do encourage people on filing RTIs; only few days ago I have petitioned the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) on why the DTC pubic bus in our JNU campus is almost non-existent!

    Regards,

    Vikas

  24. Arun,

    The best option will be phone them and ask them clearly where the RTI will lie. If they do not reply file it at both places.

    What will do with my mobile no?! You can use the contact form here to mail me.

  25. Rajeev says:

    Dear Vikas

    I want to know how to file a RTI against post office for delay clear FD deposit, My id is libran_raj@’rediffmail.com

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