The essential requirements of an application filed under the RTI Act are:
(a) The applicant should be a citizen of India.
(b) The application should contain the particulars of information sought.
(c) The evidence of payment of application fee should be enclosed.
(d) The address of the applicant should be available for sending a reply.
Personal details except those necessary for contacting an applicant are neither required to be mentioned nor can be called for by the PIO.
The RTI Act prescribes a very simple procedure for obtaining information. It requires :
Step 1. – Writing the RTI Application The common doubts in the mind of a citizen while writing an RTI application are:
A. Should it be handwritten / typed or sent by e-mail?
The application may be typed or neatly hand-written. The application may preferably be in writing though an e-mail is accepted as a mode as per law. In case an applicant has difficulty in writing the application, he can verbally request the PIO or the APIO who are duty bound to put the request in writing.
B. Should it be sent in a prescribed form / format?
Some Public Authorities have devised their own format for the applications for which the applicants may refer to web-sites of those Public Authorities. But there is no compulsion under the law to stick to such proforma. Applications cannot be rejected on the ground that they were not in the prescribed proforma.
C. In which language can the application be filed?
The application should be in English, Hindi or the official language of the area in which application is being made.
D. Is an applicant required to submit the reasons for seeking information?
Neither an applicant is required to submit the reasons for seeking information nor can the PIO ask for it. However, it is suggested that in certain cases, the applicant should explain the reasons for seeking information to strengthen his case. For example:
A) The public interest involved in seeking information which is otherwise exempt under the RTI Act.
B) How corruption and human rights are involved in respect of Schedule II organisations which are beyond the purview of the RTI Act.
C) If the ‘life or liberty’ provision under section 7(1) is invoked, the reasons how the life or liberty of a person is at risk.
E. How should the drafting of the applicant be done?
Drafting of an application The choice of words in raising the queries is very important. An analysis of the disposal of the past applications shows that wrongly worded applications may lead to confusion resulting into delay or denial of information. Therefore, an applicant should be careful while penning an application. A few suggestions are:
A. Application should be in a simple and easy language.
B. Avoid using too technical terms or legal jargon.
C. The application must be legible – either typed or neatly handwritten.
D. The queries must be specific and to the point leaving no room for ambiguity. Vague questions may confuse the PIO leading to vague answers. Further, some PIOs may use it as an excuse to avoid giving specific information.
E. If the applicant is not certain regarding which specific documents are required, he may first seek inspection of the record so as to identify the same.
F. The length of the application should not be too long.
G. The number of questions and sub-questions should be limited.
H. As no additions can be made at the appellate level, all the information required should be sought at the time of making the initial application.
I. The reasons for seeking exempted information claiming overriding Public Interest should be emphatically given in the application. Remember, the onus is on the applicant to prove that there is an overriding Public Interest.
J. Unsubstantiated allegations or use of abusive language should not form a part of the application.