The right to information (RTI) act that came into force on October 2, 2005, is a landmark law which any Indian citizen can make use of to get details on a variety of subjects such as government projects, files and funding patterns.
HOW TO APPLY: A person needs to file a right to information application with the central public information officer (CPIO) by paying a fee of Rs 10. The fee can be paid by cash or through a demand draft or a postal order in favour of the public authority from whom the information is being sought.
The public information officer is required to provide the details sought within 30 days of receiving an application. If the 30-day ceiling lapses, the information has to be provided free.
FIRST APPEAL: An RTI applicant can file an appeal with a designated appellate authority - an officer senior to the CPIO in the same department.
GROUNDS FOR FILING FIRST APPEAL: If no information is provided; if the information provided is not satisfactory; and if the information is not provided within the stipulated 30 days.
The appellate authority should reply to the appeal within 45 days from the day of receipt of the appeal. It has power to direct the CPIO to provide information.
ANOTHER REDRESS OPTION: An RTI applicant can file a complaint under Section 18 of the RTI act with the information commission - in case of Delhi, the central information commission - if the CPIO has failed to provide the information sought.
In this case, the commission seeks a reply from the CPIO and can direct him to provide the information.
SECOND APPEAL: If the first appellate authority fails to reply within 45 days or the reply is not satisfactory, a second appeal can be filed with the information commission in the states for state governments and the central information commission (CIC) for central ministries and union territories.
The second appeal has to be filed in five copies to the commission within 90 days of receiving an order from the second appellate authority or the lapse of 45 days.
There is no stipulated time-frame for the CIC to hear the appeal or deliver its order. Internally, the CIC had decided to hear within 90 days of receiving an appeal, but has mostly failed to comply with it.