Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Right to Information Act

Recently I came across a video about RTI. It was 44 mins long. So I had to postpone watching the video 4 times. I thought it is better to put down the important notes from the video, so that at-least lazy people like me can know the gist in few minutes. These are just my observations from the video . Please visit RTI site for the authentic data.

Question 1 : What is RTI?
Answer      :  RTI is an acronym of Right To Information.

Question 2 : How is RTI a part of our fundamental rights..?
Answer      : Right to  freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right. People cannot speak or express when they don't know. So you are entitled to your right to information and and hence RTI forms a fundamental right.

Question 3 :  What are the rights I am entitled to under RTI?
  1. Ask for any information from the government.
  2. Inspect any government document.
  3. Ask for photocopies of any government document.
  4. Inspect any government work.
  5. Ask for sample of materials of any government work.

Question 4 : How do I apply for any information under RTI?
Answer   4 : Write your application in a plain white paper, like you do for your leave application ;) and submit it to the public information officer(PIO) in the government office from which you want to collect information. Keep a photocopy of the application.

Question 5 : Whom to contact?
Answer   5 : Every government office will have Public Information Officer(PIO) and you submit your application to him by paying a nominal fee. Don't forget to take the receipt for your payment.
629 post offices have been designated as Assistant Public Information Officer(APIOs). This means that you can go to any of these post offices and submit your fee and application at the RTI counter in these post offices. They will issue you a receipt and acknowledgement and it is the responsibility of that post office to deliver it to the right PIO. The list of these post offices is given at http://www.indiapost.gov.in/rtimanual16a.html

Question 6 : What if I don't get  a response?
Answer   6    : Your RTI application is supposed to get a response in a max of  35 days, failing which the salary of the employee is liable to deduction.

Question 7 : Has RTI been successful?
Answer 7      : RTI has been successful in many cases. And it has been effectively used by the poor and deprived. So there is no reason it can't be successful with the educated ones like us.

Question 8   :  IS RTI really powerful ?
Answer 8        :  RTI application can be a powerful alternative to bribery in the government offices. When you pay a bribe the officials are not liable to you, but when you file a RTI they are liable to answer you. RTI along with lokpal can bring about the much awaited transparency in the government offices. RTI will make the babus liable to disclose any information that people request whereas Lokpal would make all the offenders punishable irrespective of their positions. In total these laws will put the power into the safest hands in a democracy : People.

Question 9  :  What can I do after knowing all this ?
Answer 9       :  As an assignment try to file an RTI in the government office nearest to you. You can request for  information like who the contractor for the incomplete road is, why the METRO project is getting delayed, why there are no enough government in your office route, list of all the MLA's of your area in the last 20 years. You can think of many more such information that might help you to know more about the government spendings or which will prompt the officials to think twice before doing something wrong.
You can also create awareness about RTI among your friends and colleagues,

Question 10 (taken from RTI site): How does this law help me in getting my work done? Give me a proof
Answer 10   :
Let us take the case of Nannu. He was not being given his ration card. But when he applied under RTI, he was given a card within a week. What did Nannu ask? He asked the following questions:
  1. I filed an application for a duplicate ration card on 27thJanuary 2004. Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?
  2. According to the rules, my card should have been made in 10 days. However, it is more than three months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?
  3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?
  4. By when would I get my card now?
In normal circumstances, such an application would be thrown in a dustbin. But this law says that the Government has to reply in 30 days. If they don’t do that, their salary could be deducted. Now, it is not easy to answer these questions.
The first question is – please provide the daily progress made on my application.
There is no progress made. But the government officials cannot write in these many words that they have not acted for so many months. Else that would be admission of guilt on paper.
The next question is – please provide the names and designations of the officers who were supposed to take action on my application and who had not done so
If the government provides names and designations of the officials, their responsibility gets fixed. Any officer is most scared of fixing of responsibility against him in this manner. So, the moment one files such an application, his/her pending work is done.

For a full list of FAQs about RTI visit RTI site

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