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Standard format of RTI reply by Public Information Officer

Standard format of RTI replyDepartment of Personnel and Training , Director IR has invited views/suggestions from the citizens on the draft guidelines regarding elements that a RTI reply should essentially contain by 16.04.2015. through email  at You can visit our forum here and post your views/suggestion for improvement.

The draft format has been vetted by Ministry of Law and Justice and contains following elements:

  1. The name, designation, official telephone number and email ID of the CPIO
  2. In case the information requested for is denied, detailed reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned.
  3. In case the information pertains to other public authority and the application is transferred under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be given.
  4. In the concluding para of the reply, it should be clearly mentioned that the First Appeal, if any, against the reply of the CPIO may be made to the First Appellate Authority within 30 days of receipts of reply of CPIO.
  5. The name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail ID of the First Appellate Authority should also be clearly mentioned.
  6. In addition, wherever the applicant has requested for ‘certified copies’ of the documents or records, the CPIO should endorse on the document “True copy of the document/record”. sign the document with date, above a seal containing name of the officer, CPIO (in place of designation) and name of public authority.

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Public Interest and Private Interest under RTI Act

Public Interest

Public Interest and Private Interest under RTI Act

Frequently under Right to Information Act 2005, Public Authorities have been exempting information in narrower interpretation of the term Public Interest within the RTI Act 2005. Itself the definition of Public Interest is vague and RTI Act 2005 amplifies by stating “Larger Public Interest”. Refer Section 8 e and 8 j of RTI Act. According to one of the dictionary Public Interest is defined as :

“Welfare of the general public (in contrast to the selfish interest of a person, group, or firm) in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies.”

Despite the vagueness of the term, public interest is claimed generally by governments in matters of state secrecy and confidentiality. Thus it is approximated by comparing expected gains and potential costs or losses associated with a decision, policy,program, or project and is fairly left for the discretion of Public Authority to interpret

“ satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.” RTI Act Section 8 j

Does it mean that Public Interest is the sum of individual interests? Is the public interest, then, that what is sought by the majority? Should the perspective used in defining the public interest be purely numerical? Can the term “public interest” include the protection of certain “higher” objective values? Can those values then be protected even against the will of the majority? If so, who should define and protect the public interest in a democratic form of government? In a democracy, policy decisions are formed based on the principle of majority, i.e. by voting procedure. A majority decision (e.g. a law or constitutional law) is a sum of individual interests, or the result of compromises reconciling individual interests; the main mediators of these interests are political parties. Is a majority interest also a public interest? – Taken from the Research Paper here!

However, the fact of the matter is that.. Read more ›

You can have access to information of one Ministry by applying to another Ministry

Access to Information under RTI

Access to Information from other Ministry

Access to Information from one Government organisation is a simple step process. But can you access information of one Ministry from another? The Answer is ‘Yes’.

Government Ministries frequently refer the matter to other Ministries either for specialised inputs or for seeking approvals. Other times it is mandatory for a Government Department/ Ministry to forward the file to other Ministry. For example a file meant to creation of Posts is referred to DoPT and Ministry of Finance for seeking inputs and then for approvals.

Similarly an Expenditure Finance Commission (EFC) proposal is sent to various ministries for consultation before it is put up before the Cabinet for approval. In most of the cases the whole documents are forwarded to other Ministries and sometimes it is the self contained note. If the Single File System is followed, then invariably the whole file is sent.

Whatever be the case, it is for sure that other Ministries keep the Internal file for the Inter-Ministerial consultation and / or create shadow file. In a regular Ministry, once a file is received, the receiving Ministry create an Internal file and bring most of the facts into it. Once it is approved, the decision to it is conveyed in the original file stating the decision and that it has been approved by the competent authority.

Similarly, most of the contracts and issues involving legal vetting, the whole file is sent to Department of Legal Affairs (DLA) for opinion. Most of the time, the DLA keeps a shadow file and copy of the advise given.

Therefore, all such cases where Inter-Ministerial consultation and referencing has been done, there are both Internal file corresponding to the main file and also a shadow file of the main file. In such cases the question arises, can one have access to information relating to other Ministry?

There is a very informative post available on our discussion forum here regarding this subject. The decision of High Court has been produced in this reference there, which is quoted as below: Read more ›