Should there be a standard format for replying to the RTI application?
On many occasions, questions have been raised about the quality of replies given by the Public Information Officer and First Appellate Authorities. It has been observed that many replies do not carry the mandatory information about the right of the applicant to file an appeal, the time period within which the appeal can be filed, the name and address of the appellate body etc.
A three member committee was formed by the government to evolve a standard format for replying to applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 comprising of one representatives each from Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Home Affairs and Central Information Commission (CIC). The Committee held a meeting in the second half of October wherein it observed that there is neither any provision in the RTI Act or rules for a model or standard format of filing application or replies. After examining the issue thoroughly, the committee has rejected the need for having a standard format for
In its report, the Committee has given certain recommendations:-
1. There should not be a model or standard format for reply to the RTI application, as there is no such provision in the RTI Act or the RTI rules.
2. The Public Information Officers (PIOs), who replies to RTI queries, should mention his name, designation, official telephone no and email ID while answering the applications.
3. In case the information requested for is denied, reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned.
4. In case the information pertains to other public authority and the application is transferred, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be categorically given.
5. In the concluding para of the reply, the PIO should clearly mention that the First Appeal, if any, against the reply of the PIO may be made to the First Appellate Authority within 30 days of receipt of reply of PIO. The name, designation, address, official telephone no and e-mail ID of the First Appellate Authority should also be clearly mentioned.
6. Wherever an applicant requests for certified copies of the documents or records, the PIO should certify the documents or records by putting a seal of his name, designation and signing with date. Above the seal, the remarks that 'documents/records provided under the RTI Act' should be endorsed.
The DoPT is likely to come up with necessary guidelines on the basis of the committee's recommendation.
The common issues before a PIO and FAA are discussed at the link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/faq-pio-478