Right to Information Act Frequently Asked Questions
1. When does it come into force?
It comes into force on the 12th October 2005 (120th day of its enactment on
15th June, 2005). Some provisions have come into force with immediate effect
viz. obligations of public authorities [S.4(1)], designation of Public
Information Officers and Assistant Public Information Officers[S.5(1) and 5(2)],
constitution of Central Information Commission (S.12 and 13), constitution of
State Information Commission (S.15 and 16), non-applicability of the Act to
Intelligence and Security Organizations (S.24) and power to make rules to carry
out the provisions of the Act (S.27 and 28).
2. Who is covered?
The Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
3. 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
but does not include "file notings" [S.2(f)].
4. What does Right to Information mean?
It includes the right to -
- inspect works, documents, records.
- take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records.
- take certified samples of material.
- obtain information in 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 public authority?
It shall publish within one hundred and twenty days of the enactment:-
i. the particulars of its organization, functions and duties;
ii. the powers and duties of its officers and employees;
iii. the procedure followed in its decision making process, including
channels of supervision and accountability;
iv. the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;
v. the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records used by its
employees for discharging its functions;
vi. a statement of the categories of the documents held by it or under its
vii. 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 or implementation thereof;
viii. 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;
ix. a directory of its officers and employees;
x. the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees,
including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
xi. the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of
all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
xii. the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts
allocated and the details and beneficiaries of such programmes;
xiii. particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations
granted by it;
xiv. details of the information available to, or held by it, reduced in an
xv. 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;
xvi. the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information
6. What is not open to disclosure?
- information, disclosure of 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
- information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any
court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of
- information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of
Parliament or the State Legislature;
- information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual
property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a
third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public
interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
- information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless
the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants
the disclosure of such information;
- information received in confidence from foreign Government;
- information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical
safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given
in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
- information which would impede the process of investigation or
apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
- cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of
Ministers, Secretaries and other officers;
- information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which
has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause
unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual;
- Notwithstanding any of the exemptions listed above, a public authority may
allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the
harm to the protected interests.
7. Is partial disclosure allowed?
Only that part of the record which does not contain any information which is
exempt from disclosure and which can reasonably be severed from any part that
contains exempt 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 Parliament;
· by any other law made by State Legislature;
· by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government.and
a. body owned, controlled or substantially financed
b. non-Government organization substantially financed directly or
indirectly by the appropriate Government.
9. Who is excluded?
Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule
like IB, R&AW, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic
Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau,
Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG,
Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar,
The Crime Branch-CID-CB, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Special Branch, Lakshadweep
Police. Agencies specified by the State Governments through a Notification will
also be excluded. The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these
organizations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to
allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Further, information
relating to allegations of human rights valuations could be given but only with
the approval of the Central or State Information Commission, as the case may be.
10. Who are 'Third Parties'?
A third party means a person other than 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. [S.2(n) and S.11]
11. Who are Public Information Officers (PIOs)?
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.
12. 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
- 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 - (i) the reasons for such rejection, (ii) the period within which
an appeal against such rejection may be preferred, and (iii) 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,
a. that only part of the record requested, after severance of the record
containing information which is exempt from disclosure, is being provided;
b. the reasons for the decision, including any findings on any material
question of fact, referring to the material on which those findings were based;
c. the name and designation of the person giving the decision;
d. the details of the fees calculated by him or her and the amount of fee
which the applicant is required to deposit; and
e. 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.
13. 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
14. What is the time limit to get the information?
- 30 days from the date 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
15. What is the fee?
- 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.
16. 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)
17. Who are the Appellate Authorities?
- First Appeal: First appeal 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
- 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
- First Appeal shall be disposed of within 30 days from the date of its
receipt. Period extendable by 15 days if necessary. (S.19)
18. How is Central Information Commission constituted?
- Central Information Commission to be constituted by the Central Government
through a Gazette Notification.
- Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more
than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who will be appointed by the President
- Oath of Office will be administered by the President of India according to
the form set out in the First Schedule.
- Commission shall have its Headquarters in Delhi. Other offices may be
established in other parts of the country with the approval of the Central
- Commission will exercise its powers without being subjected to directions
by any other authority. (S.12)
19. What is the eligibility criteria and what is the process of
appointment of CIC/IC?
- Candidates for CIC/IC must be persons of eminence in public life with wide
knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service,
management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
- CIC/IC shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of
any State or Union Territory. He shall not hold any other office of profit or
connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any
- Appointment Committee includes Prime Minister (Chair), Leader of the
Opposition in the Lok Sabha and one Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by
the Prime Minister.
20. What is the term of office and other service conditions of CIC?
- CIC shall be appointed for a term of 5 years from date on which he enters
upon his office or till he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is
- CIC is not eligible for reappointment.
- Salary will be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner. This
will not be varied to the disadvantage of the CIC during service. (S.13)
21. What is the term of office and other service conditions of IC?
- IC shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he
enters upon his office or till he attains the age of sixty-five years,
whichever is earlier and shall not be eligible for reappointment as IC.
- Salary will be the same as that of the Election Commissioner. This will
not be varied to the disadvantage of the IC during service.
- IC is eligible for appointment as CIC but will not hold office for more
than a total of five years including his/her term as IC. (S.13)
22. How is the State Information Commission constituted?
- The State Information Commission will be constituted by the State
Government through a Gazette notification. It will have one State Chief
Information Commissioner (SCIC) and not more than 10 State Information
Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor.
- Oath of office will be administered by the Governor according to the form
set out in the First Schedule.
- The headquarters of the State Information Commission shall be at such
place as the State Government may specify. Other offices may be established in
other parts of the State with the approval of the State Government.
- The Commission will exercise its powers without being subjected to any
23. What is the eligibility criterion and what is the process of
appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner/State Information
- The Appointments Committee will be headed by the Chief Minister. Other
members include the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and
one Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister.
- The qualifications for appointment as SCIC/SIC shall be the same as that
for Central Commissioners.
- The salary of the State Chief Information Commissioner will be the same
as that of an Election Commissioner. The salary of the State Information
Commissioner will be the same as that of the Chief Secretary of the State
24. 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 -
who has not been able to submit an information request because a PIO
has not been appointed ;
who has been refused information that was requested;
who has received no response to his/her information request within the
specified time limits ;
who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable ;
who thinks information given is incomplete or false or misleading ;and
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 -
summoning and enforcing attendance of persons, compelling them to give
oral or written evidence on oath and to produce documents or things;
requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
receiving evidence on affidavit ;
requisitioning public records or copies from any court or
issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents
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
a) providing access to information in a particular form;
b) directing the public authority to appoint a PIO/APIO where none exists;
c) publishing information or categories of information;
d) making necessary changes to the practices relating to management,
maintenance and destruction of records ;
e) enhancing training provision for officials on RTI;
f) seeking an annual report from the public authority on compliance with this
g) require it to compensate for any loss or other detriment suffered by the
h) impose penalties under this law; or
i) reject the application. (S.18 and S.19)
25. What is the reporting procedure?
- Central Information Commission will send an annual report to the Central
Government on the implementation of the provisions of this law at the end of
the year. The State Information Commission will send a report to the State
- Each Ministry has a duty to compile reports from its Public Authorities
and send them to the Central Information Commission or State Information
Commission, as the case may be.
- Each report will contain details of number of requests received by each
Public Authority, number of rejections and appeals, particulars of any
disciplinary action taken, amount of fees and charges collected etc.
- Central Government will table the Central Information Commission report
before Parliament after the end of each year. The concerned State Government
will table the report of the State Information Commission before the Vidhan
Sabha (and the Vidhan Parishad wherever applicable). (S.25)
26. 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 -
i. not accepting an application;
ii. delaying information release without reasonable cause;
iii. malafidely denying information;
iv. knowingly giving incomplete, incorrect, misleading information;
v. destroying information that has been requested and
vi. 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)
27. What is the jurisdiction of courts
Lower Courts are barred from entertaining suits or applications against any
order made under this Act. (S.23) However, the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme
Court and High Courts under Articles 32 and 225 of the Constitution remains
28. What is the role of Central/State Governments?
- Develop educational programmes for the public especially disadvantaged
communities on RTI.
- Encourage Public Authorities to participate in the development and
organization of such programmes.
- Promote timely dissemination of accurate information to the public.
- Train officers and develop training materials.
- Compile and disseminate a User Guide for the public in the respective
- Publish names, designation postal addresses and contact details of PIOs
and other information such as notices regarding fees to be paid, remedies
available in law if request is rejected etc. (S.26)
29. Who has the Rule making power?
Central Government, State Governments and the Competent Authority as defined
in S.2(e) are vested with powers to make rules to carry out the provisions of
the Right to Information Act, 2005. (S.27 & S.28)
30. Who has the power to deal with the difficulties while
implementing this act?
If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions in the Act, the
Central Government may, by Order published in the Official Gazette, make
provisions necessary/expedient for removing the difficulty. (S.30)