Any RTI Application, to start with, requires a subject on which to write an RTI request. The RTI application must be on Application Format prescribed under the RTI Rules applicable to the concerned public authority.
There must be an object for filing RTI Application. RTI is useful only to seek and obtain information from concerned Public Information Officer of the public authority, holding such information or having control over such information. RTI is just not a tool to air and settle grievances. Applicant must, therefore, be very clear as to what material information available with public authority must be sought by filing RTI Application?
Any RTI Application, to start with, requires a subject on which to write an RTI request. The thought need to be translated into easily understandable topic title. Like you may come across with broken road in your society (A thought). This need to be translated into actionable term such as 'Broken Roads at Mahavir chowk'. Now this further needs to be translated into 'Information under RTI Act 2005 regarding road repairs done by Municipal corporation in the last 3 years' (Topic Title).
This Topic title can be used in your RTI Subject. This shall not only give a right perspective to the Government officer who shall give you the information, but shall also become a reference point for all future correspondence.
When there are more than one Public Information Officers in a Unit/public authoirty, the subject line helps the Nodal PIO to mark the Application to the concerned PIO
After identifying the information required, next step is to identify the department or public authority holding this information. At times, there is difficulty to identify the exact department. Eg there are many agencies involved in execution of road work, such as NHAI, CPWD, State PWD, State Road Development Corporation, Municipal Corporation, Gram Panchayat etc. In many cases, it is very easy to identify the department such as Revenue, Passport, EPF etc.
Where there is doubt about the exact public authority, it is better to search website of possible public authorities with appropriate search string. Eg details about the jurisdiction of CPWD and exact public authority can be searched in web site Public Works Department, GNCT. Details of Public Information Officers of Central / State public authorities are mostly uploaded on their website under RTI Caption, which include telephone numbers also. PIO's office can be contacted to ascertain whether the subject matter pertains to them. E.g NHAI, CPWD, State PWD, SRDC or Municipality can be contacted to ascertain whether the maintenance / on-going work on a patch of road is being executed by them.
Another way is to visit the nearest office of the possible alternate public authorities and enquire from them. You can also seek guidance from someone who is acquainted with subject matter such as friend, neighbour, acquaintance working in State / Central Govt department, who can help you in identifying the exact department holding the information you want.
After identifying the department (Public Authority), the next step is to identify the concerned Public Information Officer. There may be different PIOs in same public authority, dealing with different subjects. In such cases, there may be Nodal PIO to receive and distribute RTI Applications as well as supplying information. However, when different PIOs of same public authority having different Appellate Authorities also, there may be different Nodal PIOs for each such administrative unit and the RTI Application needs to be submitted to the correct public information officer. The list of PIOs and subject matter dealt with by them shall be available in their website. Eg List of PIOs and Appellate Authority of PWD GNCT can be viewed in this link: Public Works Department, GNCT Where no such list is uploaded in website, address RTI Application to the PIO of the office of that public authority having territorial jurisdiction to the issue, e.g PIO in office of Tahsildar for revenue related issues or the PIO in Municipal Commissioner office regarding local governance issues.
Public authority is required to display the name, address, phone numbers of PIOs & Appellate Authorities prominently in its office premises. Details of PIO & AA can be ascertained on telephone or by visiting the office of the public authority also.
RTI Act provides that RTI Application should be filed to the concerned PIO. Concerned PIO is one who has direct access to the information held by or under the control of that public authority. Therefore, correct PIO must be opted based on nature of information required. If the information required is for the whole state, it is better to file RTI Application with PIO of the apex office of the public authority. For seeking information pertaining to a District or Division or Region, it is better to file RTI Application to the PIO in highest office of that jurisdiction i.e District, Division or Region. It is not proper to file RTI application to the PIO in office of Chief Secretary or Minister for seeking information held by the Collector Office, just for the simple reason that the receiving PIO has a responsibility to transfer application to correct PIO. Opting correct PIO shall expedite the process and fasten responsibility on PIO to supply information within time limit.
Application needs to be submitted in accordance with the procedure laid down in RTI Rules applicable to the Public Authority. There are RTI Rules for every state, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Supreme Court, High Courts and Legislative Assemblies.
Format and Word Limit: Many of these RTI Rules prescribe specific Application Format and word/subject limit. RTI Application must be drafted in accordance with such prescribed format and word limit. Eg. Karnataka and Maharashtra RTI Rules prescribe limit of 150 words per application and only one subject matter. When the application exceed word limit, two separate applications need to be filed.
Application Fee: Application Fee for Central Government Public Authority is Rs.10/-. Refer to RTI Rules applicable to respective public authority for Application Fee, Document Charges and Inspection Charges.
Document charges: As per Central RTI Rules the document charges are Rs.2/- per A4 size page, Rs.50/- per CD and actual cost in respect of printed publications or Rs.2/- per page of A4 size extract copy.
Inspection Charges: There is no inspection charge for first one hour, Rs.5/- for every subsequent hour or part thereof.
Mode of Payment of Fee: Application Fee and further fee shall be paid either by Indian Postal Order or by Demand Draft or Bankers' Cheque or payable to the “Accounts Officer” of the Public Authority or by cash to the public authority, against proper receipt. In many states, Application Fee can be paid by adhesive Court Fee Stamps affixed on top of application. There is also provision in State RTI Rules to remit Fee in treasury by challan.
RTI Rules of States, Parliament, Supreme Court, High Courts and Legislatures have specific stipulation regarding mode of payment of fee. Applicant shall refer to respective RTI Rules to ascertain the exact Fee, its mode and method of payment etc. These RTI Rules are accessible in following links:
As a first step, the Applicant must identify material information held by the public authority. To be precise, applicant must identify the document available with the public authority, which contain information he wants. For example, if the applicant wants to know why Mrs Xyz was transferred from Delhi to Mumbai before completion of normal tenure, simply raising a query before the public information officer is not enough. There is some document available with the public authority that clearly indicate reason for her transfer. The process of transfer starts with putting up a Note Sheet proposing transfer duly elaborating reasons and available vacancy. This Note Sheet move upwards in the hierarchy and competent authority approve the transfer. This note sheet shall contain the detailed reason and discussion about the reasons for transfer. Therefore instead of asking a question “Why Mrs Xyz was transferred from Delhi to Mumbai before completion of her normal tenure”, it would be appropriate to seek the “certified copy of Note Sheet containing notings by various officials and approval of competent authority for the transfer of Mrs Xys from Delhi to Mumbai in the month of August, 2015.”
Similarly, every decision making process by authorities exercising delegated powers, require approval at some or other level. All such decision making process or exercising discretionary powers are recorded on note-sheets, which shall clearly indicate objectivity in decision making. Therefore, as a basic rule, instead of asking questions to the public authorities, the applicant must identify document(s) containing decision making process, or document(s) conveying and/or implementing decisions of appropriate authority or document(s) containing the answer to the doubts of the applicant.
The RTI application must be on Application Format prescribed under the RTI Rules applicable to the concerned public authority. The RTI Rules are accessible in RTI INDIA Guide
Address of PIO: PIO means Public Information Officer. PIOs are officers designated by the public authorities in all administrative units or offices under it to provide information to the citizens requesting for information under the Act. Often, names of Public Information Officers are uploaded on website of the public authority. RTI request Application should be addressed to the Public Information Officer followed by complete address of the PIO / public authority.
Avoid Name of PIO: An applicant need not include name of PIO in RTI request application. RTI request should not be addressed to other designations like “The Tahsildar, Shahapur” instead it should be addressed to “The Public Information Officer, Office of the Tahsildar, Shahapur” or to the address of PIO as published under proactive disclosure under section-4(1)(a)(xvi).
Name & Address of Applicant: Name and full address of applicant, including PIN Code number should be mentioned. If Applicant's address is not clear, PIO may not be in a position to send his decision to you. Wherever Name, Address of applicant and other details are part of Application Form prescribed under the RTI Rules applicable to the concerned public authority, those should be filled up correctly.
Contact Number of Applicant: Giving contact number may help staff of PIO to contact you which will enable you to collect information in-person immediately. However, there are certain disadvantages in giving contact number. PIO or his staff may convey oral decisions to applicant or seek additional time or ask applicant to meet PIO etc. There are instances of interested 3rd party threatening Applicants to withdraw the application.
Subject matter of Information: Give brief subject description of the information sought as discussed above. E.g 'Information under RTI Act 2005 regarding road repairs done by Municipal corporation during last 3 years' OR 'Selection for the post of Asst Professor advertized on 20th Oct, 2013'
Information Sought: An Applicant need not write any reason for seeking information. He must specify and pinpoint exact document he wants. Applicant must not ask any document which is not existing with the public authority. There is nothing like status or action taken report on a representation or particulars of an event normally available in material form with public authority. Similarly, hypothetical questions and future events are often not material information available with a public authority.
Don't ask queries eliciting answer from PIO. Restrict your demand to fulfill your purpose i.e. don't seek information which is not useful to you. Don't seek reasons for administrative decisions, but identify and seek material documents held by public authority which shall contain reasons for such decisions. To illustrate, copy of note-sheet granting approval for a decision shall contain the reasons for decision and objectivity in decision making process. If the applicant is an affected person with respect to any decision, the public authority is required to convey the applicant such reasons suo-moto, in terms of Section-4(1)(d) of RTI Act.
An applicant wants to know the reason for awarding a tender to the Lowest-2 (L-2) bidder, bypassing Lowest-1 (L-1) bidder's lowest rate. Instead of asking a question to the PIO as to “why did you not award the tender to lowest bidder?”, the applicant shall seek the document which contains reasons for awarding the contract to L-2 bidder. Such reasons are elaborately recorded in the Tender Committee Proceedings. Therefore instead of asking question to the PIO, the applicant shall seek the “certified copy of the Tender Committee Proceedings in connection with the work of construction of Road from Haus Khas Metro to Jia Sarai.
Example of Request: Let us consider another example case. A candidate applied for the post of Asst Professor advertised by a college and appeared for interview before the Selection Committee. However, the selection process was not finalised in reasonable time. The candidate wants to know the present status of selection. Instead of asking status or questions, the request for information are framed as under:
Please supply me the following information:
 certified copy of Selection Committee Proceedings in connection with recruitment of Assistant Professors in your college advertised in Dec 2013, written test conducted in may 2014 and interviews held in July 2014
 Note sheet indicating notings by various officials and acceptance of competent authority on the Selection Committee Proceedings in connection with recruitment of Assistant Professors in your college advertised in Dec 2013, written test conducted in may 2014 and interviews held in July 2014
 Please inform me the name, designation and office address of the officer(s) responsible to finalise the selection and submit the Selection Committee Proceedings to competent authority for approval.
 Please supply me certified copy/copies of letter(s), Note(s) or any other correspondence sent by the College to the Convenor / Chairman and Members of Selection Committee, in connection with recruitment of Assistant Professors in your college advertised in Dec 2013, written test conducted in may 2014 and interviews held in July 2014, for expediting selection proceedings.
How to submit: An applicant can submit RTI application in FOUR different methods i.e. (1) Speed Post, (2) Registered Post, (3) Hand delivery and (4) through CAPIOs/Designated Post Offices. Applicant must get proof of submission of application for future use. Never use Courier Service or Ordinary / Book Post for this purpose.
Speed Post: This service is available in selected Post Offices. In metro cities, Speed Post facility is available till late evening or round-the-clock. It is just like Registered Post, but delivery is faster than Registered Post and time bound. There is also facility of attaching an Acknowledgement which will be returned to sender with the signature of addressee. Applicant can track movement of article on-line through Track Consignment System. When the status indicate as article 'Delivered', take a print out and keep on record. For availing this facility, PIN Code Number of the addressee must invariably be written on the envelop.
Registered Post: This service is available at all post offices through out the country. Registered Post service is reliable but not faster as Speed Post. Facility for attaching Acknowledgement is available for Registered post also. Applicant can track movement of article on-line Track Consignment System and take print out of delivered status.
In both the above methods, you can track delivery status well in time. However, sometimes, the Acknowledgement Card is not returned to sender or lost in transit. After 30 days from dispatch, if Ack card is not returned, applicant can approach same post office along with original postal receipt and seek written delivery status. Post office shall collect the original receipt and further get a confirmation from the delivery post office and inform the applicant.
Hand Delivery: This is cost effective if the PIOs office is nearby. Application must be delivered to the PIO's office or its Inward Section only. Applicant should obtain acknowledgement with signature and official/receipt Seal on applicant's copy of application itself, in token of delivery of application along with Application Fee and/or other documents, such as BPL Proof. A specially prepared acknowledgement form, indicating receipt of RTI Application dated …… from (name and address of applicant) addressed to (designation and address of PIO) on this …….. (date) can also be used for this purpose.
CAPIOs / Designated Post Offices: Central Government has identified Post Offices as a convenient facilitation center for receipt of RTI Applications addressed to Central Public Authorities, for its onward transmission to concerned CPIOs. Here is the State-wise list of such Designated Post Offices & CAPIOs This facility is available only if the RTI application is addressed to Central Public Authorities or CPIOs and not for State public authorities or SPIOs.