Recently I had to file an RTI in order to seek some clarifications on the reasons why some of the decisions that my college had made. The trouble and research that I had to go through inspired me to write this post.
RTI act came into force on 12th October 2005 with the aim to introduce transparency. The public authorities need to share all the documentation regarding any decision/indecision and give justification for their actions. Hence it makes them accountable to the public and makes it hard to cover up for any bad governence, corruption or simple carelessness. My experience says that it takes less than 20 minutes to file an RTI and get the ball rolling. Here is how I would recommend you to proceed.
Step 1. Research on your grievances. The more information you have gathered on the topic (formally or informally) the stronger you can make your case. Also it may be possible that your research itself would convince you that there is no need to file and RTI.
Step 2: Draft the RTI: Although you can file the RTI via email, please avoid it. The best way to get the ball rolling in an government office is have things in writing. RTI can be filed on a simple piece of A4 paper in any language (Hindi, english or the regional language). It can be hand written also.
Step 3: Locate the Public Information Officer/PIO. As per law, all government organizations need to have a designated Information officer who would be responsible to handle your RTI. If the department website does not have it, ask someone in the office. If you are still not able to locate him/her you can write to the head of the department.
Step 4: Pay the nominal fees of 10/-. Most departments prefer if you pay via a Postal Order/Demand Draft, however cash is also accepted. Based on the effort required in compiling the response, some additional fees might be charged to you later on, but its nominal.
Step 5: Submit the application
a. In person. Just walk into the office and file it in person. Usually there is hardly any waiting queue and the process should not take long.
b. Speed/registered post: Avoid Couriers because its not recognized by GoI.
c. Electronically: Although it is permitted, there is often a problem in sending the fees etc via this mode.
Step 6: Acknowledgement:
This is the most crucial step. All RTI applications have to be answered in 30 days. Hence please preserve the application number and date of filing.
I will be writing another post soon explaining how to respond to the possible reply/inaction on the RTI.