>> Mar 17, 2011
How to File a Complaint under RTI Act 2005
If any person is unable to submit a request to a Public Information Officer either by reason that such an officer has not been appointed by the concerned public authority; or the Assistant Public Information Officer has refused to accept his or her application or appeal for forwarding the same to the Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be; or he has been refused access to any information requested by him under the RTI Act; or he has not been given a response to a request for information within the time limit specified in the Act; or he has been required to pay an amount of fee which he considers unreasonable; or he believes that he has been given incomplete, misleading or false information, he can make a complaint to the Information Commission.
Section 18 of the act empowers Central Information Commission [CIC] and also State Information Commissions [SICs] to enquire into complaints against Public Authority, Public Information Officer [PIO] and First Appellate Authority [FAA]. The section has provided for enquiring and taking corrective steps by the respective commissions in respect of majority of problems that the applicant/appellant may face in getting information to which he is entitled to under this act.
Situations under which complaint can be lodged:
- No PIO or APIO or FAA is appointed by public authority.
- PIO/APIO/FAA has refused to receive application/appeal.
- No reply is received from PIO & FAA within time limit fixed by the act.
- Reply received from PIO is unsatisfactory, irrelevant, unreadable, misleading, unclear, false, incomplete etc.
- Information has been wrongly and unjustifiably refused.
- When applicant is required to pay fee/charges in excess of those prescribed in RTI rules applicable.
- PIO/APIO is not accessible in person or by post and his whereabouts are not easily available/prominently exhibited.
- Proactive disclosure under section 4  has not been made or it is not made publicly available/accessible.
- PIO/FAA has wrongly refused inspection of records of public authority or reasonable cooperation is not extended during inspection.
- PIO, FAA or any other person directly/indirectly intimidates or ill-treats or pressurizes the applicant/appellant or restraints him from exercising his right under the act.
- PIO/FAA disobeys orders of CIC/SIC.
- Any other situation where the citizen has been wrongly restrained/refused access to information to which he is entitled under the act.
- Any other violation of provisions of the act by public authority, PIO or FAA.
There is no time-limit for filing a complaint. One may file a complaint immediately after PIO or Public Authority’s failure to comply with a requirement of the RTI Act, without filing a First Appeal or as and when he wish but it is advisable to file the complaint within a reasonable time.
Powers of the Information Commission:
The RTI Act confers Information Commission with powers of a civil court only while dealing with complaints under Section 18(3). The powers include:
- Initiating an “enquiry”, which has much wider scope than a “hearing”
- Summoning witnesses ie. persons other than PIO and FAA. For example, the colleagues of the PIO and FAA, or other RTI applicants and appellants who are not complainants in this case may be called to depose before CIC/SIC.
- Compelling witnesses and others to makes statements on oath and to file affidavits
- Calling for any public record to be placed before it (not only the information requested in the Appellant’s RTI application).
How to lodge complaint:
- In case of information of public authorities of State Govts, complaints have to be lodged with respective State Information Commissions [SICs] and complaints relating to information of central government public authorities are to be lodged with Central Information Commission [CIC], August Kranti Bhavan, Bhikaji Kama Place, NEW DELHI 110066.
- The CIC and some of SICs have prescribed minimum information or papers and formats to be submitted with the complaint. But some SIC/CIC ‘ s have not prescribed any format and for those complainants can use guidelines and format as available at http://www.rtiindia.org/guide/how-to-use-your-right-to-information-4/how... with minor changes.
- CIC does not charge any fee for complaints. Some SICs charge fees for this purpose.
- Send copy of complaint to PIO/FAA simultaneous with CIC/SIC.
- Ask for punishment to PIO/FAA under the act and also claim compensation for not getting the information in time.
- Information Commissions are vested with powers of Civil Courts in respect of summoning, enforcing attendance, giving evidence on oath, producing records, etc.
- Complaint is in addition to Second/final Appeal available to applicants.
- After lodging complaint, please check from concerned website if the same is registered and registration number and status.
- In case of information pertaining to life and liberty, the complaint should be conspicuously branded as “Life & Liberty-Urgent” so that priority is accorded for its disposal before it is too late. Follow-up through email is recommended if available with SIC.
The complaint can be filed in the following manner and format:
Central/State Information Commissioner
Central/State Information Commission,
Sub: Application for Complaint u/s 18 for non adherence of the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
PIO or the Department against whom the complaint is being made:
I had tried to file an RTI application with the above mentioned Department but failed because:
1. PIO has not been appointed in the department
2. PIO refused to accept my RTI application
3. No reply is received from PIO within time limit fixed by the act
4. I had sent the application by post but the department specifying the following reasons sent it back to me
5. PIO refused to accept the application fees
6. PIO/ staff misbehaved with me
7. Information has been wrongly and unjustifiably refused
I humbly request you to pass orders to the said department to accept/file my RTI application and taking action against the PIO/Department head impose a monetary fine.