Guidelines For The First Appellate Authorities

It is the responsibility of the State Public Information Officer (SPIO) of a public authority to supply correct and complete Information within the specified time to any person seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005. There are possibilities that a SPIO may not act as per provisions of the Act or an applicant may not otherwise be satisfied with the decision of the SPIO. The Act contains provision of two appeals to tide over such situations. The first appeal lies within the public authority by the concerned public authority. The first Appellate Authority happens to be an officer senior in rank to the CPOI. The second appeal lies with the Tripura Information Commission. The Tripura Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) The Guidelines contained in this document are meant for the First Appellate Authorities.

In order to perform his/her duties effectively, the Appellate Authority should study the Act carefully and understand its provisions correctly. This document explains some of the important aspects of the Act which a First Appellate Authority should, in particular, be conversant with.

What is Information

  1. Information is nay material in any form. It includes records, documents, memos, e-mail, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data
    material held in any electronic relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public authority under any law for the time being in force.

  2. A citizen has a right to seek such information form a public authority with is held by the public authority or witch is held under its control. This right includes inspection of work, documents and records; taking notes, extracts or certified copies of document or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority.

  3. The act gives the citizen a right to information at per with the Members of Parliament and the Members of State Legislatures. According to the Act, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to nay person.

  4. A citizen has a right to obtain to an information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through print-outs provided such information is already stored in a computer or in any other device from which the information may be transferred to diskettes etc.

  5. The information to the applicant should ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought. However, if the supply of information sought in a particular from would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or any cause harm to the safety or preservation of the records, supply of information in that from may be denied.

  6. The Act gives the right to information only to the citizens of India. It does not make provision for giving information to corporation, Associations, Companies etc. which are legal entities/persons, but not citizens. However, if an application is made by an employee or office – bearer of any Corporation, Association, Company, NGO etc. indicating his name and such employee/office bearer is a citizen of India, information may be supplied to him/her. In such cases, it would be presumed that a citizen has sought information at the address of the Corporation etc.

  7. Only such information is required to be supplied under the Act which already exists and is held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. It is beyond the scope of the Act to create information; or to interpret information; or to solve the problems raised by the applicants; or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions.

Information Exempted From Disclosure

Sub-section (1) of section 8 and section 9 of the Act enumerate the categories of information which is exempt from disclosure. Sub-section (2) of section 8, however, provides that information exempted under sub-section(1) or exempted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure overweight the harm to the protected interest. Further, sub-section (3) of section 8 provides that information exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1), except as provided in clauses (a), (c) and (i) thereof, would cease to be exempted after 20 years from the date of occurrence of the related event etc.

It may be noted that section 8 (3) of the Act does not require the public authorities to retain records for indefinite period. The records should be retained as per the record retention schedule applicable to the concerned public authority. Information generated in a file may survive in the form of an OM or a letter or in any other even after destruction of the file/record. The Act requires furnishing of information so available after the lapse of 20 years even if such information was exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1) of Section

8. It means that the information which, in normal course, is exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Act, would cease to be exempted if 20 years have lapsed after occurrence of the incident to which the information relates. However, the following types of information would continue to be exempt and there would be no obligation, even after lapse of 20 years, to give any citizen –

  1. information disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence;

  2. information the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature; or

  3. Cabinet papers including records of deliberation of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other Officers subject to the conditions gives in proviso to clause (i) of sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Act.

Right to Information Vis-vis Other Acts

The RTI Act has over-riding effect vis-�-vis other laws inasmuch as the provisions of the RTI Act would have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law foe the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than the RTI Act.

Free for Seeking Information

An applicant, along with his application, is required to pay a sum of Rs. 10/- as application fee in case or by way of a demand draft or a banker�s cheque or an Indian Postal Order payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority,\. The applicant may also have to pay additional fee, as prescribed by the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005 foe supply of information as gives below:

  1. rupees two (Rs.2/-) for each page (in A-4 or A-3 size
    paper) created or copied;

  2. actual charge or cost price of a copy in Larger size paper;

  3. actual cost or price for samples or models;

  4. for inspection of records, no fee for the first hour; and a fee of rupee five (Rs. 5/-) for each subsequent hour (or fraction thereof);

  5. for information provided in diskette or floppy rupees fifty (Rs50/-) per diskette of floppy; and

  6. for information provided in printed from at the price fixed for such publication or rupees two par page of photocopy for extracts from the publication.

If the applicant belongs to �below poverty line (BPL)� category, he/she is not required to pay any fee. However. He/she should submit a proof in support of his/her claim to belong to the below poverty line. The application not accompanied by the prescribed fee of Rs. 10/- or proof of the applicant�s belonging to below poverty line, as the case may be, shall not be a valid application under the Act and, therefore, dose not entitle the applicant to get information.

It may be noted that where the SPIO decides that the information shall be provided on payment of fee in addition to the application fee, SPIO is inform the applicant:

  1. the details of further fees required to be paid:

  2. the calculations made to arrive at the amount of fee asked for;

Contents and Format of Application

An applicant making request for information is not required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. Also, the Act or the Rules do not prescribe any format of application for seeking information. Therefore, the applicant should not be asked to give justification for give details application in any particular form.

Transfer of Application

  1. If the subject matter of the application concerns any other public authority, it should be transferred to that public authority. If only a part of the application concerns the other public authority, a copy of the application may be sent to that public authority, clearly specifying the part which relates to that public authority. While transferring the application or sending a copy thereof, the concerned public authority should be information that the application fee has been received. The applicant should also be informed about the transfer of his application and the particulars of the public authority to whom the application or a copy thereof has been sent.

  2. Transfer of application or part thereof, as the case may be, should be made as soon as possible and in any case within five days from the date of receipt of the application. If a SPIO transfers an application after five days from the receipt of the application, he would be responsible for delay in disposing of the application to the extent of number of days which he takes in transferring the application beyond 5 days.

  3. The SPIO of the public authority to whom the application is transferred, should not refuse acceptance of transfer of the application on the ground that it was not transferred to him within 5 days.

  4. A public authority may designate as many SPIOs for it, as it may deem necessary. It is possible that in a public authority with more than one SPIO, an application is received by the SPIO other than the concerned SPIO. In such a case, the SPIO received by the application should transfer it to the concerned SPIO immediately, preferable the same day. Time period of five days for transfer of the application applies only when the application is transferred from one public authority to another public authority and not for transfer from one SPIO to another in the same public authority.