Guidance for Public
1.What are the fees to be paid along with the appeal to the Information Commission?
No fees need to be paid while filing an appeal or a complaint to the Commission.
2.What are the fees to be paid along with the first appeal to the departmental appellate authority?
No fees need to be paid.
3.Can an appeal against the order oof the Tamil Nadu Information Commission be filed before the Central Information Commission?
No. All Information Commissions are independent. The Central Information Commission only deals with appeals over petitions under RTI Act relating to Central government.
4.What action can be taken by the petitioner if the Public Information Officer does not furnish information even after a direction issued by the Commission?
A Non-Compliance Report may be sent to the Commission. This must be done within one year of the date of the order of the Commission. (Rule 10 )
5.How can I get confirmation that my appeal or complaint been registered in the Commission?
If you give your mobile number on the appeal, you will get an intimation as soon as the appeal or complaint is registered.
6.Will I be allowed to depute another person to attend an enquiry on my behalf?
No. The petitioner has to be personally present. (Rule 7(2)).
7.Do I need to be represented by an advocate?
No. The petitioner may make his representation himself. If needed, he may be assisted by another person.
8.What can I do if I am not able to attend the enquiry?
If the appellant is not able to attend the enquiry and desires the Commission to go ahead with the enquiry in his absence, he may inform the Commission in advance. He may also submit a written statement to supplement the points put forth in the appeal. The Commission will pass appropriate orders after considering his representations in the appeal or written statement. If he wants an adjournment, he may send an intimation in advance, explaining the reason. The Commission may afford him another opportunity if satisfied that adjournment is warranted.
9.Will the amount of any fine imposed on the Public Information Officer be paid to the petitioner as compensation?
No. The amount of penalty imposed under Section 20(2) will go to the government. The Commission may in suitable cases award a compensation to the complainant under Section 19(8)(b) of the Act. These two are independent of each other. The penalty has to be paid by the Public Information Officer while compensation has to be paid by the public authority, which is the department.
10.How soon will an appeal to the Commission be disposed of?
In certain cases, the Commission may issue an order or decision after scrutiny of the documents sent along with the appeal. (Rule 5(1)(vii)). Where an enquiry is proposed to be taken up, the appeal or complaint will be included in a Hearing List maintained for groups of departments. The cases in the Hearing List will be taken up according to seniority in the Hearing List. As and when dates are fixed for enquiry, a Cause List will be prepared listing the cases to be taken on a particular date. Intimation will be sent about the date of enquiry.
11.What can I do if I have not filed the first appeal within the prescribed time limit?
You may still submit the first appeal, explain the reason for delay and request the Appellate Authority to condone the delay. He may take up the appeal if he is convinced that there was suffficient cause preventing you from filing the appeal in time. (Section 19(1) ).
12.What can I do if the time limit for filing the second appeal to the Commission has been crossed?
You may still submit the second appeal, explain the reason for delay and request the Commission to condone the delay. The Commission may take up the appeal if it is convinced that there was suffficient cause preventing you from filing the appeal in time. (Section 19(3) ).
13.How do I know who is the Public Information Officer to whom I should send the petition?
The following webpage gives information about the Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities of different departments: http://www.tn.gov.in/rti/pio_appellate.htm (The Government has been requested by the Commission to ensure that the information updated periodically.) The website of the concerned department may also carry the information. If you are not able to find the information in these resources, and if you know the office which is likely to have the information, you may contact the office and find out who is the Public Information Officer. Government offices are expected to display a board showing the name and designation of the Public Information Officer.
14.What is the time limit for a Public Information Officer to give a reply to a petition under RTI Act?
The Public Information Officer may take a maximum of 30 days from the date of receipt of the petition
15.If I do not get a reply from the Public Information Officer, what should I do?
Send an appeal under Section 19(1) to the appellate authority who is above the Public Information Officer. This should be done within 30 days of the date by which you should have received the reply
16.If I get a reply but am not satisfied with the reply of the information officer, what should I do?
Send an appeal under Section 19(1) to the appellate authority who is above the Public Information Officer within 30 days of receipt of the reply
17.How do I know who is the Appellate Authority to whom I should send the first appeal under Section 19(1)?
The following webpage gives information about the Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities of different departments: http://www.tn.gov.in/rti/pio_appellate.htm (The Government has been requested by the Commission to ensure that the information updated periodically.) The website of the concerned department may also carry the information. Government offices are expected to display a board showing the name and designation of the Public Information Officer and the Appellate Authority. While giving his reply, the Public Information Officer may inform you of the details of the Appellate Authority.
18.What is the time limit for response to the first appeal to the departmental appellate authority?
30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. The Appellate Authority may extend this by another 15 days for reasons to be recorded in writing
19.What is the time limit for the Appellate Authority to give his decision on the appeal?
30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. The Appellate Authority may extend this by another 15 days for reasons to be recorded in writing.
20.What is the next step if I do not get a reply from the appellate authority within the time limt?
Appeal to the State Information Commission within 90 days from the date by which the Appellate Authority should have sent his reply.
21.What option is there for me if I am not satisfied with the decision of the Appellate Authority?
Appeal to the State Information Commission within 90 days from the date on which you received the response of the Appellate Autority
22.Are hearings held in places other than Chennai?
Information Commissioners may hear cases at district headquarters depending on the volume of pending appeals from that district or neighbouting districts relating to the departments handed by them.
23.Can I appeal against an order of the Information Commissioner to the Chief Information Commissioner?
No. There is no provision for such appeal.
24.What can I do if I want my appeal to be heard early?
Cases are taken up according to seniority in the Hearing List. If you want your appeal to be taken up early, you may send a petition to the Commission requesting early hearing, giving reasons for this. If there are specific and convincing grounds, the Commission may concede the request.
25.What is the difference between a second appeal and a complaint?
A complaint is one under Section 18. This is for taking action against a Public Information Officer for not responding properly. In a case under this Section, the Commission cannot give a direction to furnish information. ( Supreme Court decision in S.L.P(C) No.32768-32769/2010). It can only decide whether the Public Information Officer is to be penalised. On the other hand, a second appeal is one in which a decision of the Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is challenged. In such a case, the Commission can give a direction to furnish information if it finds that information has been wrongly refused. While disposing of a second appeal also, the commission can take action against the public information officer for any shortcomings noticed in his disposal of the petition under RTI. Another distinction is that a complaint can be filed even without filing a first appeal. However, a second appeal can be filed only after exhausting the remedy of approaching the first appellate authority.
26.How do I apply under Right to Information Act?
27.Important Dos and Donts
Give your mobile number in the appeal while filing a second appeal or a complaint. You will then get an SMS about registration of the case.
Try to find out which office is likely to possess the information which you require. Then send the application to the Public Information Officer in that office. Due diligence is expected on the part of the petitioners too in sending the application to the right officer. ( Decision dated 22.09.2009 of Wajahat Habibullah, A.N. Tiwari and Shailesh Gandhi in Appeal No. CIC/AT/A/2008/01280)
Information as defined in RTI Act means "any material in any form" such as documents, records, etc. Therefore, ask for copy of a document. Do not ask for advice or opinion of the Public Information Officer. If there is an advice or opinion on record, he may give a copy of it. But he cannot formulate and opinion and inform you
Do not treat the RTI mechanism as the equivalent of a Help Desk or May I Help You booth. Not can it become a forum for cross examination of an officer
The Public Information Officer cannot be expected to collect, collate and give information in any format in which you require information. "[W]here ... information is not required to be maintained under any law or the rules or regulations of the public authority, the act does not cast an obligation upon the public authority, to collect or collate such non available information and then furnish it to an applicant." (Civil Appeal No.6454 of 2011 – CBSE Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay)
You do not have to pay any fees along with the first appeal or second appeal
The chances of your appeal being disposed of quicky are brighter if your requests are limited and to the point. Long-winded appeals will take time as remarks of the PIO may have to called for and studied.
Be specific in your appeal. If you have made four requests and you are satisfied with replies to three, then mention only the request or query or item you want to be considered in the appeal.
Try to use the form for second appeal as published in the website.
Remember the Supreme Court caution against indiscriminate demands and impractical directions under RTI Act forcing the executive to get bogged down with ‘information furnishing’, at the cost of their normal and regular duties. (Civil Appeal No.6454 of 2011 – CBSE Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay)
On the questions of admissibility of questions raised in Parliament, the following guidelines are listed in the Lok Sabha website:
it shall be clearly and precisely expressed and shall not be too general, incapable of any specific answer or in the nature of a leading question;
it shall not contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations, epithets or defamatory statements;
it shall not ask for an expression of opinion or the solution of an abstract legal question or of a hypothetical proposition
it shall not ask as to the character or conduct of any person except in his official or public capacity
it shall not ordinarily exceed 150 words
it shall not raise questions of policy too large to be dealt with within the limits of an answer to a question
it shall not repeat in substance questions already answered or to which an answer has been refused
it shall not ask for information on trivial matters
it shall not ask for information set forth in accessible documents or in ordinary works of reference
it shall not ask for information on matter which is under adjudication by a court of law
it shall not ordinarily ask about matters pending before any statutory tribunal or statutory authority performing any judicial or quasi judicial functions or any commission or court of enquiry but may refer to matters concerned with procedure or subject or stage of enquiry, if it is not likely to prejudice the consideration of the matter.
28.These guidelines could be broad guidelines for RTI requests too.