Don't know how to file RTI, here are steps you need to follow

If you are not comfortable with filling an RTI (Right to Information), this article is absolutely for you. RTI is one of the most important rights given to the citizens of India. This right brings a lot of transparency in the system and fear amongst government officials of being caught on doing corruption. So it is one of the very efficient ways of checking corruption. But most people don't know how to file an effective RTI. So here I am providing information on how can you file an RTI, and what things you should keep in mind while writing an RTI application.

If you are filling RTI for the central government's department, you can directly go to and file your RTI query online.

For the state government's department, the RTI application is addressed to Public Information Officer (PIO). PIOs are officers designated by the public authorities in all administrative units or offices under it to provide information to the citizens requesting information under the Act. Every Government office has PIO whose specific purpose is to provide information under RTI.

How to file an RTI application

  1. The RTI Act prescribes a very simple procedure for obtaining information. It requires an RTI application, 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.
  2. The next question that comes to mind is that 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 the websites 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. A suggested format is given at the end of the post. 
  3. The application can be in English, Hindi, or the official language of the area in which the application is being made.

Reasons for seeking information 

It is not mandatory for applicants to write the reason 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:

i) The public interest involved in seeking information that is otherwise exempt under the RTI Act.
ii) How corruption and human rights are involved in respect of Schedule II organizations that are beyond the purview of the RTI Act.
iii) 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. 

Drafting of an application

The choice of words in raising the queries is very important. An analysis of the disposal of past applications shows that wrongly worded applications may lead to confusion resulting in delay or denial of information. Therefore, an applicant should be careful while penning an application.
A few suggestions are:
  1. The application should be in simple and easy language.
  2. Avoid using too technical terms or legal jargon.
  3. The application must be legible - either typed or neatly handwritten.
  4. 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.
  5. If the applicant is not certain regarding which specific documents are required, he may first seek an inspection of the record so as to identify the same.
  6. The length of the application should not be too long.
  7. The number of questions and sub-questions should be limited.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Unsubstantiated allegations or the use of abusive language should not form a part of the application.

To whom should an applicant file the RTI application?

Ordinarily, an information seeker knows where the required information is available and the application should be filed to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the concerned office. As the RTI Act requires that the applicant should address the application to the PIO of the ‘concerned public authority, the applicant should try to locate the concerned organization and file an application. In cases where the applicant is not sure who the public authority is, some effort may be required to find the concerned public authority.

If the information is available with more than one public authority, separate applications should be filed with the different PIOs. 

In case the application is submitted to a PIO with whom the information is not available but the information is available with another PIO within the same Public Authority, he is duty-bound to get the same from the concerned PIO in the public authority and supply the same to the applicant. If the information pertains to some other public authority, the PIO is required to transfer the application to such public authority within five days of the receipt of the application under intimation to the applicant.

A dated acknowledgment should be obtained from the receipt counter of the public authority. If it is sent by post, the proof of sending by post should be retained.

A suggested Application form for seeking information under the RTI Act

The Central /State Public Information Officer
or Assistant Public Information Officer
(Name of the Office along with the Address)


Sub:-Application seeking Information under RTI Act, 2005.

It is requested to provide the following information under the RTI Act, 2005.
(1) Details of information required
(a) Subject matter and details of information required in the form of questions that should be specific.
Q. No. 1 - ……
Q. No. 2 - …….
Q. No. 3 - ……..
(b) Period for which information is sought.
(2) If inspection is being sought, a categorical mention should be made.
(3) If life and liberty are claimed, they should be specified.

(4)In the case of schedule II organizations, a specific mention of corruption/human rights violations is to be made
(5) Any other relevant point

In case the information is held by or related to another public authority, the application or such part of it as may be appropriate may be transferred to that other public authority under intimation to the undersigned as per Section 6(3) of the RTI Act. (It acts as a reminder for the PIO who is required to do it under the Act).

Evidence of payment of Application fee of Rs. 10/- and mode of payment.
(i) A fee of Rs. 10/- has been deposited in cash in the Accounts Office of the Public authority with Receipt No.________ dated__________; or
(ii) A Postal Order/Bank Draft No. __________ dated _______ is enclosed; or
(iii) Exemption from payment of fees is claimed and evidence of the BPL status (for example- A photocopy of the BPL Ration Card) is attached.

Signature / Thumb Impression of the applicant
Full name and Postal Address of the Applicant
Contact Phone No. and e-mail (If any)

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